Younger You

The Knot


How To Outwit Your Teenager

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Look But Can’t Touch

August 29th, 2010 · 4 Comments

I could hear my son singing and playing his guitar in his bedroom one evening. The only thing strange about that scenario was that he had closed his bedroom door. Just weeks away from his 13th birthday, the door closing had begun.

So naturally I opened the door to find out why it was closed: standard parental response (although not always appropriate). My son was on Skype with a girl from his old school and he was singing her a song that he’d just written. She later wrote on Facebook that my son had just given her a private concert.

Above: A teenage girl using Skype on a computer in her bedroom.

Although not a religious person, I suddenly thanked god for Skype. At any other time in history, my son would have been serenading the girl in person. But there he was, sitting on his bed, while she sat happily on hers, unable to touch. And at that moment, there was no one happier than I.

My son was 12 when he started Skyping his friends every night of the week. At first it drove me insane because I saw it as a distraction from his studies. He’d just started high school and the homework had doubled from the junior school.

The thing is: he would have found something else to distract him if there wasn’t Skype. Best not to kid myself about that.

But I have come to appreciate Skype for what it is in the life of my teenager. It is the ultimate enabling tool – it enables him to socialise with his friends, the group of girls in their circle and one girl in particular, any night of the week. And it enables me to know exactly where he is when he’s happily socialising – in his bedroom, safe from harm. Better than the old style communication of the home phone, with Skype you can conference call all of your friends at the same time, and it’s free.

Above: Skype is like a free conference call on your computer.

There’s no meeting up in parks or shopping centres after school. They still meet up during the day on weekends, when I can drop off and pick up. But during the week, after school, when I’m not yet home from work, my son is getting what he needs: socialisation with girls (he attends a boys school); and I’m getting what I need: peace of mind.

Tags: Puberty · Relationships · Technology · Uncategorized · friends · social media

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Julia // Aug 31, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    What a great idea. I have been wodnerign how to keep my daughter at home after school instead of hanging with friends at the shopping centre.

  • 2 Family Matters // Sep 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    I don’t know. When I was 13, touching start to climb to the top of my list.

    Also, my dad was a door opener, which I knew and quickly learned to handle. Try knocking (and waiting) or the door will start to be locked and then what?

    Although my older kids use Skype mostly for the family abroad, I put my youngest on Skype to keep the phone free and reduce the noise level (see had been using speakerphone to free her hands for the online game she was sharing with her best friend).

  • 3 Diane // Oct 8, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Skype is great until they discover Chat Roulette. In fact, it was great until one of my 50+ friends discovered it — and subsquently, the dude that decided to show her more than his pretty smile. Ugh!

  • 4 Lillian // Feb 11, 2012 at 6:01 am

    My soon to be teen is already starting to close the door. Thankfully, I at least know where he’s at. There are so many things to worry about with kids these days and anything that keeps them home and under a watchful eye is helpful. Thanks for sharing!

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