At the beginning of 2017 my daughter joined an established and very popular collab YouTube Channel. She was ten years old. A controversial parenting decision I know, and not one I made lightly or quickly. I know many parents would disagree with it; raising their eyebrows at best, calling me a terribly irresponsible mother at worst.
I don’t need to justify myself. I’m doing my best for my kids’ best. We’re parenting in a precarious climate at the moment, with a strong online presence of both ‘slummy’ mummies and ‘yummy’ mummies. With ‘Fishfingergate’ still simmering away after the strong reaction to a Daily Mail article about motherhood this week, I think we’re all left feeling a little vulnerable about being judged. What has emerged though, is a battle cry from the motherhood; a desperation to be able to be real and honest, and a longing to stand together and support each other wherever we fit on this sliding scale. Whether you feed your little darling nothing but organic cuisine and teach them Latin before they learn their phonics, or you’re winning if you’ve managed to shower this week – we’re all doing it all for the same purpose – to be the best mothers we can be. So please, let’s be slow to pull each other down in our subtle or not so subtle judging.
Back to YouTube.
Our children are growing up in a digital age. Fact. Every aspect of society is immersed in the online world. Fact. The internet ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. Fact.
I’ve been aware that the issue of online bullying has been prevalent in the media over the past year. I’ve wept over TV interviews with parents that have lost their child to suicide because of what lurks in the shadows of online interaction. My gut response as a mama was to separate my children from it; to create as big a chasm as I could between my babies and the dark side of the internet.
But you know what that would mean? That the bullies, the trolls, the cowards that hide behind their keyboards – they win! It becomes their territory, their playground. And I’m not having that. The online world can be a wonderful and inspiring place and the bullies, trolls and cowards can jog on because they aren’t stealing that from us or our children, or the generation that follows. Not on my watch anyway. The solution is not to encourage our children to hide from this; but to build them up to be the change, altering youth culture where kindness becomes cool. But they can’t be the change out of the situation.
The word count on this post started to compete with War And Peace so I’ve chopped it in half. Tomorrow night I’ll post the second and last chunk to this chronicle, sharing why I didn’t want my daughter on YouTube and why I changed my mind.
Mrs C x