Media Response to WSOC-TV: Charlotte, NC

This is a repost of my response to WSOC-TV in Charlotte NC. To see the original post, complete with all the comments, click here.

To Jason Rice from WSOC TV here in Charlotte:
Thanks for addressing your questions in email and thanks for understanding that it took me a couple of hours to get a response together to them. Here are the answers:

1. What is it like knowing that 26.5 million people (as of Friday afternoon) have watched your video?

Answer: It’s still surreal to me and to my family. I had a guy today in the McDonalds drive thru line toss me a thumbs-up from across the parking lot. We have received letters from almost every country on the planet. It’s crazy. I just don’t understand it. A few people have stopped me in the mall or in public as far as 200 miles from home this past week to say hi. Others snap pictures when they think we’re not looking. The online response though… it’s been simply amazing. I had no intention for this to happen and no idea that it possibly could.

2. What was your daughter’s reaction to the video?

Answer: It was what you’d expect I suppose if you came home and found your parents had tossed/broken/destroyed/or given away any toy you had as a kid. She was mad, but in the end she got over it pretty quickly. She didn’t have the sensationalized response people seem to be assuming she would. Where we live though, guns to us aren’t an anathema. They’re a constitutional right that we enjoy being able to utilize fairly often. She’s being raised around guns just like she’s being raised around hammers. I think she would have had the same reaction if I’d smashed it with a hammer instead. If you mean “was she humiliated and forever scarred knowing people knew it”… No. She was embarrassed about being called out for the language she used. She was embarrassed her parents and grandparents and people from church were able to see it. She really doesn’t seem bothered by what the world at large feels about it though. That may change over time, but that’s true for now. Time will tell.

3. Did you buy her another laptop?

Answer: Really? You mean did I feel so overwhelmed with guilt for embarrassing her that I’d go back on my word and give her another one just because I felt bad? No. I have plenty of them around the home and office but she knows they’re off limits. She can get another one when she gets a job to get one. Other than that, she uses the ones at the school computer lab just like every other student who doesn’t own one at home. And no, to those that have asked; You can’t send her one.

4. What is the craziest response you have received from a viewer?

Answer: Honestly? That snarky retort the other morning by the woman on the far right, on NBC today. I don’t remember her name. She’s the one sitting opposite Star Jones. I’ve received plenty of four-letter explicative-filled responses calling me everything from a bad father who has forever scarred his child’s psyche to “Way to go Dad – I wish I’d thought of it first” comments, but that lady and her “I hope child protective services is at his house right now” comment.. well, she’s not my favorite person.

She’s uneducated about what constitutes child abuse apparently, and as a talking-head should have better sense than to spout off that kind of thing on a public venue.
You all know CPS was already called. You already know they’ve investigated. And obviously both the State and the overwhelming response on THEIR OWN POLL show that most of America (3 out of 4 to be precise) don’t agree with her or with their definition of what child abuse is. I know I certainly don’t.

Does she really think the flurry of calls she’s going to spur is going to help them (CPS) do their jobs any better?

Child abuse is SERIOUS and CPS has a job do to that’s important and when they have to step in on a normal family with normal family dynamics it wastes both their time and brings undue stress to that family. Couple that with the media attention it received and they feel under double or triple scrutiny to investigate every inch of that family’s life. So guess what, lady? Somewhere some kid IS getting beaten half-to-death by some coke-addicted parent but they can’t go investigate because they’re over at my house playing legos with my kids.

My daughter was WAY more stressed out about some lady with almost-police powers that have the legal ability to barge into her home or school any time of day or night than she was the laptop or the embarrassment. My children are healthy and happy and we get along great.

Fox Houston already ran a very similar poll almost a week before, and their numbers were almost identical. I think when 75% of America polled say they disagree with her stance, she should just drop it or at least have the tact to express herself in a manner appropriate for TV. And before someone says “Wait! Who are you to talk about tactful displays of emotion – you gun-slinging redneck?” please understand that I was a distraught father that assumed about 15 people were going to see what I said. She’s on a national television morning show spouting off her drivel so she’s well aware of the impact of her words. Normally I don’t much agree with polling figures because someone will put together a national poll with a total of a couple hundred samplings of probably-not-random people, but yesterday 124,000 people spoke up and just about 100,000 of them agreed with me. Parents in America are tired of the entitled generation of “give-it-to-me-for-nothing” kids. And I for one, won’t be raising of those if I can prevent it.

5. How many talk shows have you been offered?
Answer: If you mean how many of our OWN shows, none. I thought we had one show offering, but that was just another offer to be the subject of a show. The voicemail wasn’t too clear on it and I delayed calling back because I just assumed it was too crazy to be true.

If you’re asking how many shows we’ve been invited to; well I have no idea. Almost every major and most minor news networks from the US, a few from Canada, Britain, Germany, Australia, and some others I’m probably forgetting. No, we haven’t received letters from Leno, Letterman, or anyone else known simply by their last name. lol. Dr Phil is the only one I think I’d classify as a talk-show that’s called. The rest were news outlets I think.

6. Does your daughter still do the dishes?

Answer: No more or less than the rest of us do. Yes, she still has her chores. No they haven’t been reduced, but no they havent’ been added to either. Chores are a necessary part of everyday life.

As adults we do them at work, at home, for our kids, for our spouses, for our pets, for the sake of our yard, etc. As a new person about to enter the work-force at the bottom-rung of some company, she’s going to get a lot worse at her first job most likely. I know I did.

There are hundreds of chores we all (people in general) do daily. The few my kids do won’t hurt them. And as far as “dishes” go, we’re a busy house; gone all day at work and school, and home enough for usually one meal together at night if we’re lucky enough to get that. So it’s not like the loading/unloading of a dishwasher is going to kill her, nor is it a demeaning chore. I did it as a kid and so do my kids. I have to do it as an adult too. I’m not sure why anyone finds that cruel and unusual punishment. Maybe I’ll even have the only kid at the college laundromat who knows how to separate whites from colors in the washing machine. Oh what a tough life…

7. Did your daughter consider the job offer at the ice cream shop?

Answer: Not really, but to be fair to the ice cream shop, that’s only because they’re over an hour away from us. If they were here in town I feel quite certain a child her age would think all kinds of fun things about the opportunity to be surrounded by ice cream all day. lol.

A child today does have a hard time finding a job for two reasons. First, the job market is crap. Let’s just be honest. I know plenty of grown adults fighting for positions we would never have considered doing back in 2008. Employers have a much larger pool to pick from right now. Why hire a teenager with no experience when you can hire a grown adult with reliable transportation and a good résumé for the same price?

Second; at her age she would have to get a job she can either take the bus to from school or one close enough that one of us can be sure she can get to and from work. We don’t live in an area where cabs are common so she has that challenge as well. Is that unfair? Well some might think so, but it’s also called “reality” and it’s the same for everyone else in the world who has a job at her age.

8. Is your daughter still grounded?

Answer: Oh yeah.

9. What would your best advice be to parents of teens who use social media?

That they need to accept that the idea that a young teen has a right to privacy online is a joke. That’s my advice.

Your job as their parents first and foremost is to protect them and love them. All the rest is secondary. If I can protect them, love them, AND give them lots of freedoms to do things they enjoy then so much the better, but if I can’t do all those things, I refuse not to be able to protect my kid from harm.

This hasn’t made the media, but thanks to “snooping” I’ve already caught one thirty-year old man trying to set up a time to come over and have sex with one of my daughter’s friends. My daughter happened to be over at that girl’s house that night. This was about a year ago. I wouldn’t ever tell the girl’s name to anyone, but I called the cops and told them about it. Then I busted the same girl to the police for sending nude photos of underage boys to my daughter’s facebook account. My kid was 13 at the time. The police could have buried that child UNDER the jail if they’d wanted to. Amazing… no one called CPS on that kid who actually NEEDED some intervention. You want to talk about a situation where CPS needs to get involved? Whew… Anyway, I know my children’s online history. I can see every word she’s ever typed, every keystroke she’s ever sent across her laptop, regardless of whether she was at home or at a friend’s house. With what I do for a living, I have to see it all the time with other parents, employers, etc. You see a lot in my industry that people don’t think about when they think about what an IT person does for a living.

Life isnt’ the same as when we were kids, even though that wasn’t so long ago. When I was her age, about the only thing my mom had to worry about required someone to physically kidnap me to be able to abuse me. We didn’t have cell phones, or Facebook, or super-private ways for our parents not to know what’s going on with us. Today technology is smarter and “bad” people don’t have to watch your kid from across the playground. They can communicate with hundreds of kids from anywhere and pretend to be anyone. We live in an age of pederasts, pedophiles, and perverts and they’re all capable of the same things they used to be, just on a much larger scale thanks 100% to the Internet. I’m a tech-savvy parent and I encourage EVERY parent to make it a goal to know more about the technology their kids use than their kids do. Yes, I’m lucky that my job requires it, so it comes easier to me. That’s ok. My company teaches parent’s how do to the same thing. Don’t call me necessarily, but make it a point to call SOMEONE and learn how to protect your kids digitally from others and from their own bad decisions.

Example:
If my daughter were to leave school in the middle of the day for any reason, as soon as her cell phone’s GPS footprint triggered outside the normal 3 mile radius she’s supposed to be in I get a text alert. (whether someone thinks they’re smart enough to disable the gps or not) Then I can push a few buttons and turn on her phone’s speaker, track her GPS location in real-time. I make it a point to know how to get to my child better than any police could dream of in this day and age. Nothing short of an FBI swat team find my child better than I can. I could make a call to 911 and tell the police turn-by-turn directions to where she was within about 500 feet. I can do the same with her laptop. I can remote activate the web camera, track the ISP node the laptop is closest to – within about one mile and constantly record what happens on the screen if I need to. Call me over-protective if you want, but I know what the technological capabilities of the bad people are because we use them too in our industry, though for different purposes.

I’ve never used ANY of these tools on my children’s computers and phones except in the instance of the pervert mentioned earlier and to test that they’re still working, but you simply have GOT to know how to protect your kids online. Don’t give them top-of-the-line toys you yourself dont even understand without realizing the consequences you’re subjecting them to. Even if you have great kids… how do you know the integrity of the rest of the people they’re dealing with?

UPDATE: Thanks to this original question by you guys, we were able to accomplish some amazing things. Check out the new Protect Your Kids page we’ve got, where we educate parents AND raise money for the MDA at the same time. And while you’re at it, check out my blog post about how I used this software to protect my own child.

 

10. Is WSOC-TV your favorite station in Charlotte?
LOL. What a loaded question! I’ll have to look back at the spin you’ve given my story thus far before answering that one! I DO like your channel though.


6 thoughts on “Media Response to WSOC-TV: Charlotte, NC

  1. i have read all 3 of your blogs and still… i completely agree with you (bear in mind im 17) but i would like to talk to you further if you would have time, my e-mail is wee-man_nik12@hotmail.com thank you Tommy, never forget, you were right in what you did.

  2. I’m also in IT. And I’ve lo-jacked my kids computers and can do what you mention above, looking at the screen remotely and viewing the feed from the laptops microphone and webcam. I’m not as well versed with phones though. Could you email me how you get a text message about the position of your child with GPS like you describe above? Thanks man.

    Also I applaud your commitment to your ideals, not cashing in on this (except for the ad revenue here) but I have to wonder if you’ll regret the decision. Come up with some rules for the interview, all questions in writing 1 week in advance, etc., etc., and cash in. Put the money in a trust fund for your kids education. Think about it.

  3. wow, spoken like a GOOD father, i wa curious to know if you could possibly tell me how to do all of these GPS texing things, or the webcams, im 20 years old and i am taking care of my 2 younger sisters and i would like to stay on top of things when there are so many bad people out there, thanks! and and by the way, nice gun!

  4. I just wanted to say that I really admire you for staying true to yourself and your family values! The world has lost a lot of rationale and common sense these days. It’s such a relief to know there are still people around with a good head on their shoulders! Cheers from Canada!

  5. Vi su entrevista hoy en la TV, Today Show. Estoy de acuerdo a lo que usted dijo en la entrevista. En mi casa, mi esposo es el Tecnico de Computadoras y puede hacer varias cosas en la computadora. Aunque tengo ninos pequenos les ensenamos que todo tiene que pasar trabajo. Nada se da por gratis o pq no los piden. No tenemos celular, no tengo cable tv. Visito la biblioteca regularmente, para sacar libros y videos aprobados por nosotros. Sus Ipads, tienen accesso de internet limitado.
    Su pagina esta bien construida y facil de leer, gracias por la informacion que provee a otros padres sobre como manejar la tecnologia y que nosotros debemos de aprender para poder tener contros de nuestro ambiente familiar.
    Sinceramente,
    M. from Houston TX

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