Every dad has to have THE talk with his little girl. We don't look forward to it. It just sneaks up on us, and the next thing we know we're asking questions like:
"Do you really know what your getting into here?"
"What are you going to do if anyone asks you about what you're wearing?"
"I'm worried about you going there by yourself."
These questions and more came to mind when I realized that Ellie was accessing her first chat room. Groovygirl.com is apparently the rage among Ellie's friends, letting little girls create their own characters, dress them up any way they want, and even add highlights and jewelry!
They can go camping or shopping--they can even go to a dance, and all around them are other avatars of kids from Maine to California.
Today I spent some time looking over Ellie's shoulder to figure the whole thing out. She had her friend, Kaitlyn, on the phone, and they were talking about where to meet online. "I'm going to Fashionista Fashion Show #2," Ellie said at one time, before she decided to move on to Campground #4 for a meet-up with Kaitlyn.
This went on more than 90 minutes before I beckoned Ellie back to reality and got her off the phone. From what I could tell, the chat was carefully regulated. The kids couldn't really type their own messages. They merely chose from among a number of provided questions and answers.
With that said, it's still bizarre to see the virtual worlds that Ellie has access to. When I was a kid, long distance charges were 18 cents a minute. When I moved away from my friends, there was NO way to communicate or keep in touch. Since Ellie's best friend, Darby, moved away 14 months ago, they have kept in daily contact via e-mail and phone (here we pay a flat rate per month for unlimited long distance).
I guess that's life in the 21st Century for a dad like me. As far as THAT OTHER talk, well, I guess I have a few more years to prepare for that one.