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5 Lessons 80’s Teen Movies Teach Us About Digital Parenting

by | Apr 20, 2017 | Internet Safety Tips

Scenes from our favorite 80’s teen movies, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and Pretty In Pink can put big smiles on the faces of today’s parents.  I mean, come on, these were our teen icons (although their characters were not always the most stellar role models). These flicks live on as two of the best movies of all time, holding relevancy to this day as seen with the new Domino’s commercial spoofing the famous ending of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.  Now that we have tweens and teens of our own, we can find lessons in these iconic movies of our time to help us navigate through today’s digital parenting challenges. Life wasn’t really all that different, and the lessons sure do resonate.

In Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Matthew Broderick, er, Ferris, goes to great lengths to have the perfect day off school with his friends.  In order to get what he wants, he conjures up never-ending plans so his parents don’t find out.

1. Never Underestimate Your Kids  

It’s not that they’re bad kids, it’s that their brains haven’t fully developed to understand the consequence of risk.  When they want something or feel excluded, don’t expect a high level of maturity, and do look for signs of grand plans.

2. Know Their Entourage

Ferris Bueller’s girlfriend and best friend were in on the plan and in fact, pressured to participate in his grand plans of deceit.  A seemingly great group of teenagers crossing some well-defined parental boundaries. Hmmm. That never happens…

3. Technology Assists in Grand Plans

Did you take note of his audio setup in his room to fool his mom that he’s actually in bed sleeping? There’s some advanced (for the 80’s) equipment there that comes second nature to the high school boy to buy time for his day out. Technology has always been a teen or tween’s right-hand man.

In Pretty In Pink there are scenes of bras and underwear, kissing and making out on a bed, a couple of F-bombs, and even characters getting drunk….yet we still have a soft heart for all of the characters in the movie.  

4. Sex, Profanity, and Alcohol Still Exist

Do your parents know about every experiment you tried growing up? We’re sure thankful ours don’t. While today’s parents are offered high levels of monitoring previously untraceable behavior, it’s how we respond, teach, and guide our children through these experiences that will help us with successful outcomes, despite the uncharted digital landscape we now find ourselves in.

While watching Pretty In Pink with knowledge of today’s evolved technology, it’s surprising to see the library computers with instant messenger-like capabilities. They were  even interacting on the library computers with photo sharing . . . a dinosaur version of snapchat created by Hollywood.  

5. Private Messaging is a Conduit for Love

There are multiple apps today to assist in private messaging way beyond texting (like messages disappearing with Snapchat and now Instagram!).  Our goal as parents is to develop character and opportunities for our children to know what it feels like to make both good and (sigh) bad decisions. However, without proper monitoring, you may be missing many available teaching opportunities.

These are great movies that all end well with great messages of living life to the fullest, having good character, and being true to yourself and your feelings.  They are iconic role models of our time, and we turned out to be semi-decent humans.  So relax a little – you’re a great parent and you have good kids. Get your head out of the sand (if it’s stuck there) and stay a step ahead of what’s going on in their digital lives with proper monitoring and alerting.  

You don’t need to know everything they do, but we could all use a little help from our (techy parent) friends. The team at Bark is well-versed on 80’s teen movies, bad decisions which thankfully shall not make their way onto the internet, and how to help teens and tweens understand the consequences of less than wise risk taking.  Bark alerts you to need-to-know information, right away, sending you the major red flags to help you start lesson-filled conversations.

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