If you are over 40 years-old and can still identify three songs on your kid’s iTunes playlist, you may be a parent that is “keeping it real.” If you actually have those songs on your own playlist, then here’s a long distance fist bump in your honor. Keeping up with changing times, trends, and technology takes effort, especially for those of us who are “mature” parents. But, staying current can make life with a teenager at home more engaging. The bottom line is: Technology isn’t going to move backward so unless you’re living off the fat of the land and tending to rabbits, then you have to get on board.
Showing interest in what my 16-year-old finds funny, cool, and important, gives us some common ground for talking and spending time together. I’m not suggesting that lip syncing to a Bruno Mars song will get your kid to look up from their phone, but it does make them smirk a little while texting.
So much of what teens do is online or by cell phone, so sometimes you forget they are quietly interacting with friends by text and Messenger a lot of the time. To keep in my daughter’s loop, I’m determined to know the magic phrases that dot the world of data streams and cellular service. And believe me, it’s way more mysterious than “Open Sesame.”
Here is a little example of what I have figured out about online popular culture. Please remember this is just my interpretation based on what I have learned and there may be many more functions that completely escape me:
- Meme – an online photo with a one-liner caption that can make you laugh hard enough to snort
- Vines – quick, six-second video recordings shared online, showcasing peculiar antics that can make you giggle or cringe
- YouTubers – sometimes racy pranksters and humorous personalities who record their antics for millions of viewers to croon over each week
- Snapchat – app for phones that makes photos and messages only viewable for a short time, quickly disappearing after they are sent out
- Fails – trying something you have no business attempting and ending up with a photo or video to prove it
- Instagram – app for photo and video sharing that filters, colors, and hues to perfection, allowing everyone to look like a super-star at least once
The ace up my sleeve is my daughter’s father. He is such a tech fanatic that he is usually up on terminology, online resources, and viral videos making the rounds online. His knowledge has helped to keep our daughter safe as she has ventured into a more electronic world. He’s also our underpaid IT guy who makes my iPhone meltdowns waaaaaay more tolerable. Between the two of us, we have a good foundation to provide parental guidance and technical savvy keeping us present in our daughter’s busy life of school, friends, and activities.
Now, if someone could just help me understand why teens want so many piercings, all my questions about life would be answered.