I rented a cottage from a young couple for my New Year’s Getaway this year. They live on west coast of Florida but come over to their vacation rental from time to time to do work on the property and vacation because it’s in such a beautiful location. The couple loved the outdoors, so did their kids.
The entire 4-day stay I saw the husband and wife couple along with their three daughters. They all were so nice. The owners were so happy to see me on their pier fishing and walking to the beach. We talked about all the different types of fish in the waters and all the wildlife I saw during my stay. We kept our conversations to superficial things. I knew the owner was a very busy guy because he stayed on his phone attending to what appeared to be business calls.
I would sit outside in the mornings to watch the sunrise while watching the owner’s daughters collect sea shells, watch fish, rays, and sharks in the water during tide changes, and play in the beautiful clear waters.
The owners of the cottages worked diligently daily doing minor upkeep on the property, even climbing the roof to do some repair work. To say I was impressed is an understatement. I later learned they owned a farm with acreage and animals which explained their work ethic. They seemed to be the perfect little close-knit family.
On the last day of my trip, I was trying to get in the last bit of fishing before check out. As I walked onto the peer, I noticed the husband owner sitting all alone. His head was hanging low as if he was praying or meditating about something. I almost hated to disturb him. I greeted him with a good morning like I always did and he lit up with a huge smile.
We talked for nearly 30 minutes before his wife came out. We chatted about the area, and I told him how much I enjoyed my time in his cottage. I assured him I’d do a review for the property on my stay. In our conversation, we talked about children. He asked if I had any. I shared with him mines were both adults and lived out of state. The owner noted he had four children. Three girls and a boy.
My mouth flew open. They had a son and I had not seen him once in the 4-days I was on my vacation. The family stayed in the cottage right next to me.
Where in the heck was his son?
For the duration of my stay, I hadn’t seen a boy child anywhere. He wasn’t helping his father with the manual labor and upkeep of their property, nor was playing with his sisters on the beach or sitting out at night with the family enjoying the natural beauty his family owned. The wife was up on the roof helping her hubby get the job done.
My curiosity had been peaked.
So naturally, I inquired about his son’s age and where he was.
The father dropped his head sadly and shared with me his 12-year-old son had been inside the entire vacation playing the video game Fortnite on their Ipad. He said it was the worst decision he’d ever made and he regrets is dearly. The son is a 3-sport athlete, great student (per the parents), and no problem at all. He came home from school one day pleading with his parents to be able to download the game. Whether or not they checked it out was unclear, but what happened to their son was very clear.
Unlimited technology has the ability to change the behavior of young people, and not in a good way.
Every Vlogger Claiming to For Kids Really Isn’t Kid Friendly Good
I watched one video tutorial about the Fortnite game when my friend’s son wanted to play it. It had lots of violence, too much for an 11-year old kid for my liking. Any killing of people in a video game is too much killing, and my friend agreed. She decided her child would not be playing that video game. She was a bad parent for about a week, but her son got over it.
The co parents clearly didn’t do the research on how addictive technology is to school-aged children. Studies have linked time spent using technology with negative effects such as teacher-reported problems, paying attention in class, and deficits in attention, visual memory, imagination, and sleep.
Technology had caused their twelve year-old son to out of the family. He had also checked out of life. No longer was casting nets to catch bait for fishing important. A screen in front of his face for hours and hours now is the only thing this kid cared about. Peer pressure and parental guilt of not keeping up with the Joneses caused the parents to cave to their son’s request.
Now, a dad sits on the water’s edge thinking about the beast he’s unleashed.
Not only did the young parents give their son unlimited access to the video Fortnite, they also gave him access to YouTube. Now their kid is watching grown-ass men pretending to be kids like Jake Paul and Logan Paul. For some reason, these pervs are attractive to young middle-school aged boys and it’s scary. These types of YouTubers are anything but child-friendly.
I watched some of the channels of supposed “child-friendly” vloggers in the same genre and noticed they frequently used f-bombs and made occasional sexual references inappropriate for young kids. A few videos discussed masturbation and on occasion discussed porn. Lots of these vloggers cursed saying “hell” and “damn” “ass” and “crap.” Those aren’t words I would want my kids exposed to be exposed to if I didn’t curse myself. Even if I did, I wouldn’t want people talking to my kids using these words for no other reason except to get rich.
One of these grown men children’s vloggers talked about it sounded like “foxes are having sex outside,” as if kids would know something about that. Another advised young kids not to get herpes. I died right here.
One video I watched was of grown men talking to young kids about a kid video game, but they were discussing drinking whiskey and hangovers in the background. These grown men are planting all types of seeds in the minds of innocent naive children. Parents have no clue what’s happening, they don’t even look at what their children are viewing. Lax parenting is not parenting at all. It’s friendship disguised as parenting that yields bad results if employed for too long.
Like all things in this life, some of them should be consumed in moderation. Some things should never be consumed.
The internet is a huge wild, wild west with few filters and no oversight. Heck after the age of 13, YouTube doesn’t filter videos anymore, so if you don’t set parental filter on your own devices, your kids can access all the wonderfulness the nasty net has to over.
I talked with the owner of my vacation cottages about how dangerous the internet was, and assured him he should never feel guilty for protecting his children from becoming addicted to the technology, video games, and the internet. We felt like our discussion was a divine intervention. I was able to share some experiences tied to my work as a child advocate and ICAC (Internet Crimes Against Children) policy advisor for a local task force. There are lots of things people don’t know about the internet that could get their kids in trouble. It starts with someone planting seeds, and the next thing you know they are searching sexually explicit sites.
One wrong click could land your kid in an ICAC dragnet sting operation and in federal prison for accessing inappropriate material or child porn. Parents must educate and protect their kids from the pitfalls of using technology unsupervised.
Remember, we didn’t always have the internet, computers, tablets, smartphones, Siri, and that old talking too much Alexa. We have access to more technology than ever before. But just because we do, it doesn’t mean it’s good for us or our children.
The owner’s kid missed the entire vacation because he wanted to stay in and play stupid video games on a dumb smart device. It’s family time that they’ll never be able to get back. I still don’t know what the child looked like because he never came out of the family’s vacation cottage.
What a shame. Instead of the son learning how to care for his future inheritance, he stayed inside learning nothing from his dad playing Fortnite, a free video game made by people who don’t give one shit about his mind, well-being, future potential or the things he missed sitting looking at a screen.
What a shame.
We shouldn’t allow our kids to guilt us into not protecting them from themselves. Parents must work around the clock to guard their children’s ears, their eyes, and their hearts for as long as they can. Don’t allow technology to steal precious family time and memories that could last a lifetime.
Once those moments are gone, they are never coming back. Give technology wisely.
Marley K., 2019