Personal Story: He Is Listening To What??!!

Personal Story: He Is Listening To What??!!

(A guest post from John LaMorte in the Online Safety Group community)

I was never the perfect child, my parents can attest to that. My music was loud, and it was nothing like the Doo Wop my father made us listen too driving home from The Bronx every Sunday night. I can remember one night when dad came into my room, and I was listening to The Steve Miller Band. Our eyes met just as Steve belted out, ‘You know that I can surely see, that I don’t want to get caught up in any of that funky shit going down in the city.’ Now I was thinking my dad has to feel this is as great as I do.  This is almost a bonding moment. The language is a little strong, but maybe this will open the door to more adult conversations between us. I finished that thought, and realized my father had been speaking. “I don’t know who that is, or why you think you can listen to it, but if I hear it again, I will rip that stereo out of here, and throw it out.” I was 16 years old. I turned off the radio in compliance, dad left the room, and I put on one of my dad’s old Chuck Berry albums, and listened to, ‘My Ding a-Ling’. My father could hear it in the next room, and approvingly shouted, “Much better!”

The music teenagers listen to will always be a bit too much too the adults of their generation. If you want your child to stop listening to their preferred music, just start singing along to it in front of them and their friends. Works like a charm. Music has always been the drug of choice to me. If I had a couple of dollars in my pocket, then or now, it went towards music. I thought it was simple in the seventies and eighties. I would grab the money, jump on my bike. Drive by Joe’s house, yell at the front of the house, Joe would magically appear. Together we would ride to the local department store. It was only a twenty minute ride. We’d walk to the music department, check out the singles, and hope that they would have the one song that I wanted. They usually didn’t. I’d Settle for something like Bruce Springsteen, ‘Blinded By the Light’, and laugh about the innuendo associated to the song as we rode home. It’s easier today, I do it sitting at my computer, and every song is always available. How much better my life would have been if I had iTunes as a child. 

Kathy told me the other night to go get Travis for dinner, he was relaxing in his room. I knocked, waited, walked in. He was out cold. Sleeping like run-down puppy. He looked so beautiful. 16 years old, 6’2”, 260 pounds, he plays left guard in football. Despite his size it was easy to look at him and remember how just 15 years ago I could hold him in one hand, and smell that magic baby scent from the top of his head. He had a slight grin on his face, and that made me smile. I slowly walked towards him trying not to wake him right away, so I could savor the moment. I really wished I had my camera. I leaned down to caress his face, and wake him gently. Then I heard from his iPhone, in a very low volume sitting right next to his ear, “F---ing this, F-that, F---ing F---ing F---ing them all”. “Travis, wake up!” He jumped, “I’m up, time for dinner dad?” This just became a wakeup call for us both.

We discussed limits. iTunes is awesome, in my family we all share the account. My 17 year-old, my 11 year old, Kathy and I. What I was amazed at was, I never updated the account setting since we started our iTunes journey. The family grew, but the account stayed the same, tailored for me and Kathy. Just as Steve Miller was to me, to Travis it is DMX, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Wu-Tang Clan and such. My last Apple receipt showed among others, ‘Sucker for Pain’ by Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa and Imagine Dragons. When I talk to Joe today, he sees the same issues in his house. These issues aren’t specific to just my family. Travis needed to understand that his brother Emmett has access to this account, he could see and hear this. Not to forget that this type of language can lead to negative feelings, create aggressive emotions, and that just because it’s out there doesn’t mean it’s acceptable in our house. “I can’t stop what you listen to when you are out with your friends,” I told him. “But if I hear this stuff in my house, I can promise you that we will hold your phone for a week.” He agreed. Most importantly, he and Emmett both know where Kathy and I stand on this issue.

We deleted these songs from our library, updated the settings on our account. Kathy and I agreed that we will review and update the settings minimally four times a year. We verified that we need to approve all purchases. We explained to Travis that he is an example to his brother, and to people we see every day. We also pointed out that this is a conduit through the World Wide Web, that can’t stay unfiltered. Online safety goes beyond the obvious, and I startled myself when I found that I had been caught off-guard by the offerings from this simple online service. 

After dinner, Kathy needed a birthday card from the store for a friend at work. Travis and I drove together. He hooked up his iPhone, and played ‘Jetliner’ by The Steve Miller Band. “That’s what I’m talking about,” I said looking at him. He nodded back and smiled.

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