What About a Heart-To-Heart Talk with Your Loved Ones This Valentine’s Day?

I was listening to the Valentine’s Day playlist of my friend when suddenly espied one of my favorites- Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and started humming the song. Remember it?

If you need me call me

No matter where you are

No matter how far;

Just call my name

I’ll be there in a hurry

You don’t have to worry coz

Baby there ain’t any mountain high enough…

To keep me from getting to you.

Post becoming a mom, it resonated more with me and I would often find myself singing the song whilst doing my daily chores. (Hope the kids heard me and remember the words!).

In the digital age, when kids are maturing faster and social media reflects the rapid rate at which hearts are getting connected and then disconnected, it’s important that we talk about online romances, dating sites and privacy with our teens.

Is your teen sporting a moony look and walking around as if on cloud 9? Then it’s time to sit them down and have ‘the talk’- the one about crushes, love and the need for separating digital life from their romantic life.

So how do you go about it? You can start on a light note, discussing Valentine’s Day and the number of roses they may have received or gifted. Talk about their friends and the various plans they are making for this special day. You may then gently lead the conversation to online romances and the rising interest in dating websites among adolescents. Finally, it’s time to discuss account security and privacy.

Here are some tips you can share with your kids during your heart-to-heart talk on digital age romance:

  • Whisper sweet nothings in each other’s ears but not your account passwords
  • Share your hobbies and dreams, but keep your sensitive information private
  • Make new friends online but only as long as the conversation stays decent and non-intrusive
  • Use PIN or biometrics to lock your devices. Set autolock to 10 sec
  • Money attracts the attention of cyber criminals like nothing else. Avoid making online payments to help out a friend seemingly in distress, without consulting someone senior and trusted. Be judicious – do not share ATM PIN or credit card CVV number
  • Take time to decide whether or not you want to create a common social media account and avoid if possible. You wouldn’t have the control over posting
  • If your social media account is compromised, write a general post informing all about it, take screenshots of offending content and delete account
  • Use only secured devices with authentic software -This is to be implemented without fail by all family members

Isn’t it also a good time to talk to kids about real love – The love that isn’t limited to romance? Love is also when Mom gets up at midnight to make a studious child a cup of hot chocolate; when Dad forgoes his annual vacation plans to buy a collegian a dream laptop; when friends make plans to spend maximum time possible with a depressed friend; when a teacher spends extra time helping a child improve grades; when a 4-year old makes and proudly serves her Mom a cup of tea. Love is all that and more.

Recently Safer Internet Day was celebrated worldwide and I am really happy to note that not only security firms, government agencies and experts, but even schools, media and various NGOs showed support through activities, slogans, posts and discussions. Though the number is still insignificant, if you consider that we are a billion plus nation, it’s a start. Awareness of the issue and commitment to be a changemaker are the first two steps towards a positive digital life.

Here are some DIY ideas for your child for Valentine’s Day:

  1. Make cards for near and dear ones, showing appreciation and love
  2. Make and hang heart chains to decorate their rooms/the house
  3. Get flowers and chocolates for grandparents, domestic help, school bus drivers, canteen staff etc. to thank them for their support
  4. Compose poems and songs mentioning each loved one and sing it at the next social meet
  5. Visit a children’s hospital with parents and share cards and small gifts

These activities will not only boost their creativity and realization of real relationsships, but will also help them lead a balanced digital life.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

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