The children and I each have an iPad. The iPads were birthday and Christmas gifts for the children. Joel and I performed a cost-benefit analysis of the financial investment for three iPads for the children versus the emotional toll on us for moderating bickering among them if we expected them to share one iPad. Trust me, we made the right decision. Peace reigns. At least when it comes to iPads.
But, the iPad phenomenon meant that I, as the technological guru in the house, set up the iPads and iTunes account, and I oversee all updates and app installations for the kids. I thought, until tonight, that I had done a pretty good job so far. I disabled their access to You Tube. I limited their access to the internet. I monitored the game apps and nothing bloody, gory, or horribly violent is allowed. I downloaded books and educational apps for them. I password protected the update and app installation feature. Metaphorically, I patted myself on the back. Way to go, Suz!
But, someone should have warned me to protect them from me. Specifically, from my texts. I text regularly with many people, but most of all with Joel and my sister, Cyndi. Tonight while in an after-work board meeting, I texted Joel a mild and succinct gripe which reflected my irritation with the hour and the length of the meeting. I left home at 7:40 a.m. this morning and returned home for the first time at 9:30 p.m. I expected Joel to text back a sympathetic virtual hug.
What I received instead was a text that sent the cold, clammy sweats down my spine accompanied by a racing heart and mind.
“Hi guys. I mean from Samuel. Hi. It keeps showing me the messages you give each other.”
Holy texts! Why is my nine-year old son texting me a reply to what I texted Joel? And, if he saw that text, then what other texts has he read between us or between me and who else? In the recesses of my mind, it dawned on me that my iPad and the kids’ iPads share one iTunes account and I have had to manually edit certain things off their iPads such as books or magazines to which I subscribe, or game apps of theirs from mine. Did this mean that our texts were shared among all four iPads?
Yes. Yes, it did. I came home and immediately snatched up all the iPads and there were my texts with Joel and with my sister. ALL OF THEM. Some not appropriate for children. If the texts were movies, they would not necessarily be G or even PG-13 rated, especially the sarcastic swagger and bravado traded during game play on Word with Friends with my sister. Some texts were boring and mundane stuff like where are you, do you have the kids, and here is the grocery list. But, some were flirtatious exchanges between spouses, some were funny insults traded between sisters, some were of an annoyed wife to a husband, and NONE of them were intended for our children.
I felt naked. Exposed. The curtain was pulled back like the Wizardof Oz to Dorothy. Samuel saw the hand in the puppet. I figured out how to delete all the texts and turn off the message feature on the kids’ iPads. Now, how do I erase their memories?