The Secret Online Lives of Our Children

I’m not exactly sure how I missed this: a singing green gummy bear in yellow underpants. There have been some 59 million views of the English version of this silly video, and about four million of my kids’ favorite version, Hungarian: (Warning: the ridiculously annoying song will get stuck in your head.)

The Hungarian version has had more than four million views, an amazing feat considering that there are only 10 million people living in Hungary. Even if you add my in-laws in New Jersey who speak Hungarian, that’s just 10 million and two, making the video’s views equal to about 40% of that European nation’s population. And my in-laws aren’t on YouTube in any language.

I learned about the singing gummy bear from my fifth grader, whose classmate and buddy Joe tends to sing the song in various languages in the classroom. (My sympathies to the teacher.) And I wondered: How did I miss this?

I consider myself fairly cybersavvy for a middle-aged woman who drives a mini-van. That’s why Consumer Reports asked me what I thought of the creepy ads for Microsoft’s Kin, and then Babble re-quoted me. Right?

I was well aware of Formspring when I discovered that a teenager in my life has a page there, much to my dismay. Formspring is the online equivalent of standing in a park in New York City at 10 pm, your name printed on your T-shirt and a light shining in your eyes so you can’t see who is making (frequently rude, sexual and mean) comments about you. In other words, it’s a terrible idea, especially if you are a teenaged girl – or boy for that matter. 

This is not to be confused with Foursquare, where you announce to the world that you have checked in at Starbucks or, I dunno, Chuck E Cheese. While it has great potential for businesses small and large alike, it’s also like saying: “Hey, I am here and I look like this, so if you want to stalk me, drop by now. I’m having a latte!” 

But the gummy bear. Ich Bin Dein Gummy Bear. Osito Gominola. Je m’appelle Gummy Bear. How did I miss this when millions of people have seen it? It makes me wonder what less Internet savvy parents don’t know about what their children are doing online.

Rather, it makes me worry, because I know that it’s becomingly increasingly difficult to keep track of, let alone control what your children are doing online. If “all the kids are doing it,” too many parents won’t want to hinder their children’s social lives. Nobody wants to be the Cranky Out-of-Touch Old Person. Well, I do, and apparently, so does Consumer Reports, according to one commenter who said, “I am both amazed and disapointed that Consumer Reports has become so censored and conservative.”

Also, cybersavvy.

I decided to check into the singing Gumimaci on the bible of all things pop culture, Wikipedia. That’s where I discovered, to my relief, that the Gummy Bear craze was launched in October of 2007, when I was in the middle of radiation treatments for cancer and had no time for singing candies, no matter the language. I’m playing the cancer card on this one.

When I dropped my son off at school this morning, I asked him to give this message to his pal Joe: “Ich bin dein Gummy Bear.” I hope it gets stuck in his head, too, funny kid.

No responses to “The Secret Online Lives of Our Children”

  1. Jennifer

    Ok . . . here I am watching this Gummi insanty thinging, WOW! I’m glad my kids aren’t singing this to drive me batty. When my FIVE year old runs in at starts chirpping about how I’m watching the “crazy gummi” and can we watch this gummi or that gummi. I had a bit of a heart attack trying to figure out how she was seeing things on the Internet that I hadn’t. Fortunately, it seems my foolish husband introduced her to gummi maddness.

  2. Arden Greenspan-Goldberg

    Let it to you to be up on everything Net. Ouch I don’t like this Formspring. It has come up in a recent article in the New York Times Styles, of course. Jen it’s so hard to stay on top of what’s out there and be proactive and appropriately protective of our children.
    I look forward though to hear this very popoular video. I hope the music and lyrics don’t stick to me like crazy glue.
    Much love always dear,
    Arden http://askarden.wordpress.com/recent-post

  3. Jen Singer

    Dawn,

    Sigh.

  4. Dawn Sandomeno
  5. Lisa Romeo

    About the parents who don’t want to “hinder” their kids social lives by banning their participation on certain websites: While we hated it when our parents said it, this retort (or some variation) still has its uses — If all your friends were jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you do it too?
    I know, hopelessly outdated, but the point is, sometimes we just have to say NO, let them hate us for a little while and call it a day.

  6. Amanda

    Lol This song is one of few that tends to play as background music in my brain. Oh, and I have it on a cd which my 9yr old insists on playing daily. In my defense, I am a preschool teacher and this falls under “Things to Know So Massive Groups of 4 Year Olds Will Follow You Like the Pied Piper”. :-) Oh, and I love your post, fyi.

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