Oh, no! Risa discovered email, and the addiction has officially kicked in. My husband set up a gmail account for her years ago just so another “Risa Cove” wouldn’t snatch up the log-in name. Last year, he told her about her account, and she couldn’t wait to get on and send an email to her grandmother. He showed her how to create a password, explained that it was private, had her sign in, and let her type and send an email. Damn him. Enabler.
Luckily, Risa then forgot her password. That's my girl! And then she forgot about email altogether. Nice. Except one of her friends apparently sent her an email recently and wanted to know why Risa never wrote her back. This was the impetus Risa needed to suddenly remember her password and log on. There were 17 new emails waiting from various friends, that had been sent months ago: picture attachment of girls’ cats, images of cupcakes, jokes, all innocent. No gossip, no rumors, no scandals…not yet. Risa kept asking my husband “What can *I* send to my friends?” She doesn’t realize that you can actually just use email to say hello. Ah, the innocence.
“Now that I’m getting my own emails,” she asked this morning, “can I have my own computer?”
Me: No, not yet.
Risa: Why not?
Me: We’re not there yet. I’ll let you know when we are.
Risa: Well, when do you think we will be there?
Me: All I can tell you is not YET, and it will not help your cause to badger me.
Risa: Do you think I could get a cell phone next year?
Me: I’m walking away now…
Risa: The reason I need a cell phone is…
(Muffled sounds as I go upstairs.)
I’m not ready for this. I don’t have the brain capacity at this particular time to think through youtube filters and blocking sites and safety lessons and porn-avoidance (which is getting shockingly harder) and limit setting and time restrictions and all the other hazards and demands that come with giving our kids the keys to the technology kingdom.
I can feel the sands of time gushing through the hourglass on this one, but I’m just not there yet. Risa is already starting to borrow my iPod and walk around the house listening to music. She is less interested in TV and more interested in playing games on the Tablet, which we have to keep time tabs on. She is already learning how to use technology to tune out REAL LIFE. She’s eight, and I don’t want her to get a jumpstart on tuning things out (like her mom). I know that’s coming. And I will do whatever possible to keep her plugging into family and non-virtual life…but it sure ain’t going to be easy. Advice welcome.
I am a journalist, filmmaker, author, wife, and mom to an 8-year-old daughter. My most recent project is I Love Mondays: And other confessions from devoted working moms. Other projects explore raising only children, happily ever after, raising strong girls, and hot topics for Jewish women.
Also find me on