I read a lot of dumb things on internet.
The dumbest thing I’ve read on the internet this past week involves the Momo Challenge.
I know, I know — you’re expecting me to join the chorus of folks giggling with glee about how stupid parents fell for the rumored urban legend.
Nope. Today we’re going to discuss how ridiculous it is to chastise parents for caring about their kids, and the experts who criticized them for believing the warnings of of other parents and not being “concerned the right way.”
What is the Momo Challenge? The rumored viral video that encouraged children to commit violent attacks and suicide.
Parents even received notices our elementary schools warning us to look out:
So parents have naturally been taking to the internet to spread the word. Only to be treated to near-constant lectures from non-parents and experts about how “ignorant parents” were FOOLED by this terrible HOAX.
Here’s a perfect example from a totally well-meaning communications consultant (and for the record is not a parent) from the Boston area posted on Facebook:
“There are lots of things on the Internet kids shouldn’t watch, including some videos appearing to be children’s content that have inappropriate clips embedded within.
Whether you think the existence of those videos makes the Momo Challenge real, or think the fact that kids aren’t self-harming or encouraging others to self-harm makes it fake, doesn’t really matter.
What matters is playing a role in what kids consume online, knowing what services and videos are vetted & safe, talking about hard issues like self-harm, and creating a space where your kid will tell you if they encounter problematic material or believe their friend is doing something dangerous.
What isn’t helpful is the news, schools, police, parents, and others bringing mass attention to negative internet content, which has always existed and always will, and feeds the trolls with more attention.”
I’m sorry, what?
Yes, unfortunately “spreading the word” create an echo effect and copycats — but all three of my children knew about this before I did because of Fortnight videos they saw via YouTube Kids. They knew EXACTLY what I was talking about when I asked them about it and expressed tremendous fear about it.
As a parent, this is exactly the kind of information I need to know and information I would not have had if another parent had not shared it with me even before I received a notice from school.
Listen, non-parents and experts: I do the best I can.
But do you think I’m honestly previewing every single Wild Krattz episode before they do?
(Girl, please. I’m out here trying to live. I’m a single mother with three little boys.)
Do “experts” even understand how difficult it is to monitor every single thing your child is exposed to online? And not online? It’s PHYSICALLY and MENTALLY IMPOSSIBLE.
And even if you do — do you know how difficult it is to be able to monitor every conversation your child has with other children whose family may have different standards around monitoring when this stuff comes up at lunch time?
Why do non-parents and “experts” have an issue about this being talked about in terms of something that parents might want to have on their radar?
Why do non-parents and “experts” feel such a need to chastise parents for trying to share something they feel is important within the parent community?
Which brings me back to the three big elephants in the room when it comes to parent engagement and just talking to us in general:
Everything seems super simple until you become a parent and then you have to like … ACTUALLY do it.
Parents view of engagement often looks different from the way you WANT us to engage.
Many parents are also survivors of your public school systems and we aren’t always in a rush to “engage” with your institutionally, generationally racist education system.
Listen, just because people are poor, brown or black it doesn’t mean we’re stupid. We understand and can see quite clearly.
Information sharing should be ENCOURAGED instead of perpetuating a conversation around how stupid we are for doing it. We indict parents for not caring enough and then beat them up when they do. We just can’t win.
What else do we expect from people trying to work 2-3 jobs to keep their kids alive, raise decent human beings and meet the standards of everyone in society passing judgement about whether we’re “doing it right.”
The whole problem with parent engagement is a lack of understanding of actual parents and what it takes to engage them in meaningful ways. We want them to “engage” with us the way we WANT them to — and if we don’t, we “just don’t care.”
That’s a pretty arrogant way to approach someone we’re looking to have a relationship with, isn’t it?
So you know what experts?
If the worst thing a parent does today is share information with another parent about a potentially harmful internet video to the point where even the IDEA of it is scaring kids, we’re doing ok.
You can save your righteous indignation and your superior knowledge about the stupid little parents. If there’s anything in life I can be sure of, it’s the fact that the “experts” will be back to tell us how we “just don’t care” that much next week.