Kids and Social Media

I am far from being an “authority” on parenting skills.  Fortunately, this post is not really about that.

From what I have seen in many parts of Turkey, children are raised differently from those in the U.S. – for the most part. Of course, there are exceptions.  But most children are treated like little gods and goddesses, doing what they want, eating what they want, and being fawned over constantly.  Frankly, it’s not my cup of tea.

Surely, there are also little ones that are also beaten every day of their lives.  That’s hard to swallow.

In the States, however, there seems to be a more full range of parenting skills from daily beatings, to timeouts, to Daddy’s little princess.  But we just don’t see the little gods as often.

For many months, I have wondered if there is any difference in how these children turn out.  In fact, I started writing a similar blog post last summer, and just couldn’t come up with the right words.  I unsuccessfully searched for data that would show the outcome – U.S. kids vs. Turkish kids: What parents are doing right!

This morning my blood is boiling and I decided to change the post a bit.  One thing I can say for Turkish kids is that they to  seem grow up with a lot of respect for themselves and for others.  Sure, there are those young adults that turn out to be thugs, but what I don’t see is their use of social media to prove what punks they are!

Take Facebook for example.  I love it.  I love keeping in touch with my friends and family across the pond.  I love meeting new folks here in Turkey.  I love watching videos of my talented “friends”.  I love reading good news like graduations and births.  These are things shared around the world.

But more and more, I see kids and young adults from the States using Facebook as a way to tout their ignorance and bad behavior.  Perhaps that is not the best way to put it.  Many of these kids are well educated.  But they write as if they don’t have a brain in their heads.  Sometimes it takes a lot of work just to decipher the unintelligible words.

Doubtless, poor parenting skills sometimes played a role in this.  But at some point in everyone’s life, you must realize that you are who you want to be.  You must take responsibility for your actions and words.  You must both give respect and demand respect.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we were all born with a “respect” gene?

The young adults are the absolute worst in my view.  I feel for the young parents out there in the world.  They have had little or no training on how to be a good parent.  But putting yourself out there on social media to show the world what an ass you can be is certainly inappropriate.  Gangstas, crackheads, whores.  Who would call themselves any of these things?  Why would you publicly call someone else these?  Have they no understanding that others read Facebook too?  Do they not realize that the police often access these pages?  And let’s not forget, that universities and prospective employers scour the internet as part of their background checks.

How can one talk about their loving innocent child in the same breath that they curse others or brag about being a complete criminal?  Is this an example of nature vs. nuture?

I am wondering, is this something that is only going on in the States?  Is anyone else seeing this in Turkey? in Europe?  Asia?  I am truly embarrassed by and for these folks.  But what can one blogger do?  I would love to hear your comments on this.

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12 thoughts on “Kids and Social Media

  1. A lot of my younger friends and cousins on facebook post similar messages. I don’t find it particualrly offensive: it seems to be just a part of fitting in for a while and most teenagers love to be the same as their peers. Re. parenting in turkey. I think my experience of it has been different to yours, but in H’s family there is a definate cut off point around age 7 (also school age) where the kids are suddenly a whole lot less indulged. This is not to say the children are actually expected to help around the house or do chores (indeed most male turkish children are never expected to do these things) but rudeness is not even vaugely tolerated and personal responsibility becomes a priority eg. remembering all the stuff you need for school, and in the case of lots of my oldest’s six year old friends, catching the dolmus alone to get home at lunch time.
    I’m not sure who has got things right, if indeed anyone does. I dislike in Turkey that often discipline involves verbal humiliation, but in the UK I think kids tend to lack a sense of community and social responsibility that turkish kids often excel in.

    • Hi Mary! It’s great to hear from you again. Ankara misses you! I appreciate the comments, especially from an expat who is raising her children in a Turkish world. Levels of what is posted on FB of course can vary. While some of the language is just what their peers are doing, what I am referring to is completely offensive. So much so that I can not bring myself to quote any of it (and I am no prude!) It is interesting to hear that there seems to be a cut-off age for the indulgence. I will keep an eye towards that. I have to say though, I have seen over and over again complete rudeness tolerated at unbearable levels. Here’s a good question for you, have you ever seen another Turk step in when someone else’s child is out of control? I haven’t, which is very different from the US, although probably is a good idea. I am particularly flabbergasted when a child is really naughty in front of a group and the parent does absolutely nothing. Again, I have seen this many times here, and not so much in the States. The verbal humiliation I have not encountered here, but is very common to hear in a U.S. market or on a bus. Good point about the responsibility. When I was a kid, much more was expected of me than today’s US kids. Having to jump the school bus alone was norm. American kids don’t do that as much today. Turkish kids take public transportation alone!

      You are absolutely right, no one gets it right. There’s no such thing!

      • To be honest where young kids are concerned even the parents themselves act helpless. They tend to look around as if to say “what can I do??” Start by saying “no” is my tip. I expeienced a lot more extremely spoilt kids in Ankara than I have here in Fethiye (surprising as I am exposed to a lot more kids here with one at school.) There seems to be more value placed on being a kid for longer here, I haven’t noticed a “tween” culture at all. H is certainly a much stricter parent than I am but will occasionally have moments when he says “what can I do? he won’t le me help him …” For me although I tend to give the kids more freedoms than him if there is something I feel they have to do eg. cleaning teeth, changing out of grubby clothes, I think it is my duty to enforce this not just give in to a tempertantrum.
        I think overall I prefer raising kids here. Partly because I am foreign and so am not as constrained by traditional turkish standards. And partly because I think kids get to be kids a lot longer here: there is less drinking and vandalism, etc. I don’t think I have ever felt threatened by groups of teens here and in the UK I certainly have.

  2. . . with you on this one. I’m not much enamoured by having out of control kids around me as we see a lot here in Turkey. That said, there is no doubt that, by and large, Turks grow and mature into really decent human beings who ‘nurturally’ give respect. A Turkish friend put it this way when I was being grumpy – ‘Let them be kids; they’ll have to grow up soon enough.’ I think that the break down of family and social norms in the so-called ‘developed’ world – to quote Thatcher, ‘There is no community, only self!’ just about sums it up. Social media simply mirrors the situation in any given grouping – if they are abusive on Facebook then the same will apply in the classroom or on the street.

    • Good point Alan. Social media does mirror the situation. That’s exactly what I saw this morning on FB; a bad situation. I absolutely agree that agree that Turks, like folks everywhere, are some truly decent people!

  3. I’m neither an expert nor a parent (though I am a wise old uncle to 11 -my words, not there’s) and so maybe I shouldn’t comment. Ok I will! I have rarely seen an example of brattish or selfish behaviour by Turkish children in public. Turkish kids seem to have retained a childish innocence long lost in the West. On the other hand, the numbers of street kids in Istanbul is still very high and (according to the Govt’s own figures) the incidence of child abuse within Turkish families is truly alarming. What does this prove? Well, that parenting is a complex issue and that we can learn from each other.

    • Interesting Uncle Jack. I see the “brattishness” often, even in the otherwise very innocent children. I guess I really didn’t address the issue of the street kids (which there are many of in Ankara too), mostly because they probably aren’t often on FB – which was more of my focus, I think. Have you had the opportunity to view Turkish kids interact on FB?

      • Perhaps they’re nicer on this side of Anatolia! No I haven’t noticed them on faceache but for some reason, I’m really popular with Turkish kids on Twitter. No idea why or what they’re tweeting about. I don’t follow back (for the obvious reasons).

  4. I really do not like the piercings, tattooes, immodesty and vulgarity of the young ladies that has gone mainstream nowadays. (I don’t care for the gansta look and slang either.) When I see these kids in vulgar poses with their tongues out and all the exhibitionism, it really saddens me. They are so young but there is a hardness there that should not be. I blame the parents and the media for creating this pop culture that has influenced this generation. I wonder what kind of wives and mothers and employees they will make. There is something so unfeminine about a girl that markets herself like a cheap goods. I hope it is something they will outgrow. We are a nation of conformists. What are all these tattooes going to look like when these kids turn middle-aged. Proabaly even more ridiculous then they look now. But hey, what do I know. I am not cool.

    • Hi Ann! Thanks for the comment! I can’t say I agree about the piercings and tatoos. The has been a symbol of self-expression for a very long time. Yeah, I think many go overboard, but they will have to live with that. The vulgarity does really bother me. But I can’t blame parents for most of it. There are plenty of great parents that have tough kids. What I just can’t wrap my head around is the need to put it out there on social media – for the world to see. Do they really have no limits? Ir do they not yet understand the internet?

      Your comment also begs the question, “What about the boys?”

  5. It has more repercussions for the girls then the boys so I worry about them more. Also, girls influence the boys too. If they act like ladies, the boys will behave better too.

  6. I have three kids of my own. I work in a high school. There are kids there from over 50 different countries. And they are fabulous. Even the kids with issues are wonderful. Even the rich and entitled kids (although the sense of entitlement is irksome). Teenagers are generally much better human beings than their parents. They are more generous, kind, charitable.

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