On Sunday, I Write.

A personal weekly blog by Picture This Clothing Co-founder + CEO, Jaimee Newberry.
Posts written in 45 minutes or less.

What Happened with Zia and Snapchat

image source: https://www.funklevis.com/blog/when-influencers-turn-against-you-the-death-of-snapchat/

image source: https://www.funklevis.com/blog/when-influencers-turn-against-you-the-death-of-snapchat/

OK so… I vanished for a couple weeks. Let’s catch up!

In February, I posted a mighty parental post about letting Zia, my ten-year-old, install Snapchat after a very compelling request she made, along with about a week of consideration on the topic. LESS THAN 24 HOURS LATER I was sitting in her principal’s office. I got a pretty vague “we need you to meet with us about Zia” call. I honestly expected it to be about depression, or lack of focus in class - these are fairly frequent comments/notes surrounding Zia in school, stresses that we’re constantly working on. But that’s not what this was…

While I’ve always been pretty good about random, periodic reviews of the girls phones for inappropriate /concerning behavior and content, within the previous two weeks since my last kid-technology review, Zia decided to go “catfishing.” Here’s a good definition of that to save you a Google search if you’re unfamiliar:

“Catfishing’ refers to a scam where someone, the ‘catfish,’ creates a fictitious online identity and seeks out online relationships. These are frequently romantic relationships, and online dating websites and cell phone dating apps are fertile hunting ground for catfish. However, there are also catfish who seek out friendships and other forms of social contact.
Source:
https://consumer.findlaw.com

Let me clarify, we had not even installed Snapchat yet.  

I think I can sum it up in one line from Zia’s browser history:
https://www.omegle.com/ “Omegle, A place to meet strangers!”

Ya. A place. To meet strangers. On purpose. She learned about it from one of the YouTubers she watches pretty regularly (who’s videos are usually annoying and target an older teen audience, but typically fine content-wise. It just takes one little post to go un-reviewed, though.)
And more awesome - the school had to call the police because Zia had created a fake profile and had been having some conversations with two 18+ dudes. Fun times.

She found photos on the internet of things/people to share with them. One of the dudes shared a no-shirt pic with her, but we didn’t find anything “worse”, and while she *totally* shared photos of the inside of our home, she did not share photos of her own face/self, so the police didn’t need to confiscate her phone or take further action.

She told one of these 18+ dudes she was ten, and he still carried on “friendly” conversation with her. Puke-worthy.

Zia seemed to think her prowess as a crafty catfish was pretty funny and shared a screenshot of one of her conversations with a couple of her friends from school - one child was concerned for Z’s safety, shared with her mom, her mom turned the screenshot into the principal at school.  I have personally thanked this mom and Zia’s friends for doing the right thing. These kids and this parent were looking out for others, and I’m genuinely grateful.

With the exception of supervised use of her laptop to complete homework, Zia has been without any/all technology since the moment we walked out of the principal’s office. .Mostly while I figure out how on Earth we rebuild the trust and honestly between us, and NOT just create better sneakiness skills.

I cried on the drive home. It’s sad, embarrassing, disappointing and more than anything, it’s terrifying.
At home, Ken and I sorted through her entire phone and computer history. We were able to pinpoint the start date of all this stuff (less than 2 weeks prior), along with some phone numbers, chat logs, etc.

Z and I had a really, really, really long talk about EVERYTHING. Talks I didn’t think we’d be having for at least a few more years. I explained to her that while one of my biggest fears is that one of my kids goes missing, the scariest part of that fear isn’t finding her dead after having been horribly abused - it’s that she’ll be kept alive, being horribly abused, and never found.

With technology, comes access to everything. Parental controls? Parental controls in my experience have been very all-or-nothing, or impossibly high-maintenance. And kids are smart, they figure things out very quickly. I have worked in tech since 1998 and have more intimate knowledge of tech than a handful of parents out there. I’m grateful for this knowledge and for Ken’s way-better knowledge, because we were able to find a lot of information and talk openly with Z about it. And while it was scary bad, it could’ve been WAY worse, so in that way I have to be grateful that it happened now, and was caught relatively swiftly before it got WAY worse. 

I had to leave for London the following week to speak at a conference, so I asked her if she could just be ten years old for a week with her dad, and we’d work more on rebuilding trust when I returned.

It’s a long road. It’s a balance of sharing some of the darkest realities of horror that exist in our world while also trying to let her know I am here, and she is loved, and how not-shitty her life actually is in the scheme of things. I can see there is a blatant need for attention in her right now, so I’m trying to nourish that in the healthiest way I can.

Probably the most important thing for me right now is to make sure she understands and defines her moral compass and personal values, and the importance of honest and open communication between us.

I’m not a perfect parent. I don’t have perfect kids. We fumble out loud, cuz hey… we’re all just figuring it out as we go.

More catching up next week! Thanks for following along.

<3 Jaimee

Going Back to the Start

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The interesting thing with the idea of going back to the start is that you’re never the same as when you started. You’re different. You’ve changed. You’ve been through stuff, you’ve learned, you’ve experienced.

In my coaching days, one of my clients used the analogy of a high dive at a swimming pool to talk about pushing through things that were daunting. I loved that analogy and ran with it a bit for the sake of thinking through the process of starting new challenges and overcoming obstacles.

You climb the ladder to the highest high dive you see. It’s scary and exhausting, but you climb. Not everyone will climb with you, some will cheer you on from the sidelines, some may laugh at you or call you crazy, some will do their own thing and never even see you. But you climb and eventually you reach the top of the ladder and you slowly walk out to the end of the board. You can see so much from up there. You stand there, staring out, looking down. The fear of jumping grips you. Some get scared and climb back down the ladder. Not you. Eventually, you take a big breath in and you jump. You feel the air, anticipate the cool slap of breaking through the water. When you come up for air, it’s not just air that you’re breathing in, you’re inhaling a huge accomplishment. You did it.

You can repeat this process on the same high dive. The second time it’s still a little scary, but you’ve done it before so you know you’re capable. You can do it over and over. Sometimes the leap isn’t graceful. Sometimes you hit the water wrong and it hurts. You learn from the experience and go again.

For some, this will be high enough. You become a master, you teach others how to do what you’ve done. You push the boundaries of all the variations and ways possible to jump from this one amazing height.

Others crave more, and more will always exist. The need to search for higher dives will overcome you. You’ll search, you’ll find incrementally higher places to climb and leap from. High dive boards, cliff diving, sky diving…

Each time you’re standing at the base of another ladder staring up, it feels a bit insurmountable. As long as we start -one ladder rung at a time and don’t give up -you’ll eventually get to the top. Once you’re there the perspective shifts, the focus shifts.

The climb is a little different each time. Each time you figure out how to get to the top as you go, but you rely upon skills earned from all your previous experience. Each time you reach the top, you’re tired but thrilled by the view. Each time you get that knot in your stomach as you look to the water and you decide if you’re going to jump or not. The closer you get to the edge the more you feel your heart beating inside your throat.

You jump. 

You do it all over again.

-Jaimee