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RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

What cautious responses, if any, should be considered by the adults on this forum when answering the questions of children on this forum?

Asked by RealEyesRealizeRealLies (30938points) March 26th, 2010

I’m noticing more and more children on this forum. Recently a junior high student asking about dates for the dance.

No complaints really, but I find myself either avoiding them, or answering in a different way… for some reason I don’t know why.

There was another question posted by a 16 year old girl about not having a boyfriend. One of the answers could have been interpreted as a proposition from an adult. I ignored it and let it pass.

But in my year at Fluther, I’ve noticed an influx of younger members. It’s giving me reason to consider answering their questions in a different manner than I would an adult question.

Perhaps the reasoning is because I expect adults to understand adult humor and sarcasm. We’ve earned our adulthood and should not be afraid to express our personalities. But younger teens and children give me reasons for more cautious answers. The big issues in their lives are very serious to them, where I might find them trivial. Though I do enjoy remembering when I felt the same way about things as them.

Do you find yourself speaking differently to the younger members than you do to the adult members? As an adult, are you your true self when speaking with children or younger teens?

Sometimes I ask questions specifically directed to the Ladies, and sometimes I direct them specifically to the Fellas. Should I consider directing some of my questions now to the Kids, and others to the Adults?

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20 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I do answer the questions of younger members as myself, but with an eye toward their tender years.

I remember how life or death everything was in the teen years. I try to have some compassion for that.

As to asking questions of kids or adults, why would you unless you specifically wanted answers from those groups?

wilma's avatar

I have some concerns about this.
I would not want my child to be viewing some of the questions and answers on this site.
I do believe that it’s a parents responsibility to monitor their child’s internet activity. That said, I try to be careful when answering a young persons question and gear it to what I would want my kid to read.
As for the questions asked by adults, (and of course we don’t really know who is an adult and who is a child) I want to have an adult discussion. I know that kids are probably “watching”, but I can’t police everyone’s child, only my own.
I just hope that I haven’t contributed to the delinquency of any minors!

squidcake's avatar

Well, I guess I fall under the category of one of those “younger members.” (I’m 17…almost 18 though!). But I don’t usually put my age out there just because I like to be treated as an adult and not judged by my age, so I don’t really mind how people answer my questions.

squidcake's avatar

Oh, and think the main reasons a lot of the youngsters are here is that they think this is just another Yahoo Answers. And we all know it’s definitely not.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


I do not consider you as a “younger teen” or “child”. Though technically, you are not an adult yet. It’s a difficult line to draw for sure. Not confident on where I stand on this. But I thank you for your maturity nonetheless.

phillis's avatar

We’re already going to be cutting the site into bite-sized chunks when they roll out the blacklist feature. Why not cut it up even further by having the under 18 crowd be junior jellies in their own section of the site?

faye's avatar

Blacklist feature? Some of the stuff on here isn’t suitable for middle school but, as you said, we earned our adulthood and adult speaking is part of it. I generally pass over most ‘young person’ questions until I’ve read all the others! Kids wouldn’t like my answers, I am too intolerant, lol.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Even kids can understand humor.

Apparently way better than adults, way too often.

cockswain's avatar

As a point of comparison, here’s a similar question recently.

ninjacolin's avatar

go on an annoymous site like and talk to a random person. don’t ask their age. try to have a big huge difficult conversation with them. (may take a few tries since many people are just on there to be weirdos) have 2 or 3 of said conversations and only after you’ve been utterly impressed with the intelligence and comedy your victim was capable of.. ask their age.

I’m not sure what the best way to chat with minors is, but i find them capable of grasping more (sarcastically and technically) than I’m yet prepared to believe is possible for their age.

So far, I haven’t wavered on how I answer their questions vs adult’s questions. Not because I’m sure it’s best, simply because I’m still trying to push their limits and see how much they can handle. They haven’t failed me yet.

wundayatta's avatar

I don’t understand why we should talk down to anyone. I treat people as adults, and if they have questions, I answer them. If a person can’t ask a question about something they don’t understand, then they probably can’t even write or find this place in the first place.

Kids are people, too. They may not know as much, but they are just as capable of learning as anyone else is—maybe more so. I don’t see what they should be shielded from the world. You never know what knowledge might be necessary, and, if you think they haven’t heard everything here and much much more already, you have another think coming. Just check out a schoolyard during recess sometime. Un-fucking-believable!

SeventhSense's avatar

I consider an age appropriate response if I’m aware of their age and if it’s germane to the topic.

liminal's avatar

If I know I am responding to someone who is young I tend to be more gentle and patient with what I perceive to be naive or limited.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

I think there is a significant number of young people who come here who may need a different perspective on how adults think and adult lives works than what they’re seeing at home. Kids have complex lives, and getting exposed to exchanges of information that is multifaceted is good. Sometimes they need to be hit between the eyes with a 2×4 by someone that’s not their parent. Sometimes they need to hear that there are ways to get over problems, life will be okay. Sometimes they need to hear that while their parents may be unreasonable, they need to talk to them rationally.

Rest assured that the exposure to information about sex is nothing new for even middle schoolers. When my daughter was in middle school, 3 of her friends were sexually active, one boy got a 14 year old girl pregnant and she had an abortion, a favorite party game in some middle school circles was Lemons and, in a middle school located in the heart of upper middle class Republican Christian suburbia, there was an outbreak of and STDs in the 8th grade class. It turns out that there was a large group of kids who would get dropped off at the movies every Saturday afternoon, and the girls were giving the guys blow jobs at the movies. We’ve got middle school kids sexting. The whole “bro/ho” culture is most prevalent in college tracked, fraternity/sorority-encouraged households.

There really is a large segment of the middle school and up population who never have conversations with adults. The adults in their lives talk at them, lecture to them, bark directions, are angry with them, or send mixed messages. Many kids are dealing with abandonment due to their parents’ divorce—many kids are not as resilient as adults would like to think.

YARNLADY's avatar

No, the place for management of access is the home. If children are allowed on this site, that is their parents decision, and not of concern to fellow Fluther users.

SeventhSense's avatar

I’m not really worried about sexual topics as much as maturity. Most kids can be sexually aware and even active but completely lost, impressionable and clueless.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@SeventhSense hmmm… the same applies to a lot of nominal adults.

SeventhSense's avatar

Yes. I’ll assume you weren’t being sarcastic…

augustlan's avatar

I’m very much in agreement w/ @marinelife and others here. I answer as myself, but with an eye towards compassion.

liminal's avatar

I am very glad that there is a community on fluther that uses caution with youth.

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