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Finally Grownie

They say that the night before your 18th birthday is the most excited and anxious you’ll ever be. I feel like whoever “they” is just might be right because it’s 11:30 pm and I have no idea how I would fall asleep anytime soon.

So. Much. Anticipation.

After a brief moment to soak in the anxiousness and excitement that I am feeling, I return to writing my bucket list, my ‘Internet Bucket List’ that is. I have filled the pages of my IBL journal with all of the things I’m most excited to do, starting tomorrow. Tomorrow!! Eeeeeep.

First things first, I’ll have to check out Facebook. Apparently you can virtually stalk anyone ever?? Sounds terrifyingly fun. I absolutely can’t wait to go on YouTube and finally watch a vlog!! Apparently there are people who are famous on YouTube for these things...not like celebrity they don’t have any talents or anything...but the grownies all know about them and I’m very intrigued. My sister raves about Netflix but from what she’s explained I’m not really sure what the hype is all about. Can’t I just watch tv and movies like normal on the television? Anyway, tomorrow is sure to be a busy day, lots of things to start checking off my IBL.

My oldest brother turned 18 before the Child Online Prohibition Act of 2010 was passed, so he never got to experience all of the anticipation of your 18th birthday eve. Before COPA 2010 your 16th birthday was apparently a huge deal, but in the years following its passage, all of the hype gradually shifted to the new rite of passage COPA had created.

Before everyone realized that the internet was terrible for kids, it was a free for all! Literal BABIES could be watching YouTube all day, middle schoolers were addicted to social media, and teens just Googled all of the answers to their homework. It’s honestly hard to even remember those days; I was only 4 when COPA10 was passed.

Some kids my age complain about the restrictions, saying it’s unfair that we have to wait until we are 18 to even legally look at the internet...but I kind of like the excitement of it all.

It’s going to be so cool to finally see the computer lab at school!! The lab is locked and you have to swipe your license in order to get in and access the computers. Apparently there used to be issues with people making fake IDs to get into computer labs underage...crazy stuff. My younger friends are going to be so jealous at school on Monday when I get to go to the lab during study hall with the other grownies, I’M SO EXCITED.

Okay...I guess it’s probably time for me to fall asleep...or at least attempt to!! I can’t believe it’s almost here.


Before my alarm could finish it’s annoying wake-up call I hit it and sprung out of bed. My 18th birthday, lovingly referred to as ‘netday’, had finally arrived. I was finally a grownie.

I threw on a sweatshirt and crocs bounded down the stairs to find my parents already waiting in the kitchen for me, car keys in hand. They know me too well, and clearly figured out the first thing I would want to do on my netday- go get internet on my phone!!!

The days of my phone serving solely to text, take pictures, and play candy crush would soon be over.

My mom wished me a happy netday and reminded me to grab my birth certificate, and then we headed for the car. I could sense the relief coming from my parents, they no longer had to worry about the massive fines they would be issued if one of their underage kids accidentally accessed the internet under their watch. It was a big day for all of us.

My heart is POUNDING. Can you die from over-excitement? I hope not.

Walking into the Apple store I make a beeline for the back left corner, the designated “new grownies” area. Two other fresh 18 year olds stood in line before me, phones and birth certificates in hand, anticipation filling the air in the brightly lit store.

Finally it was my turn. I hand over my birth certificate and my phone and the worker begins to process my paperwork.

Before the internet app could be installed, I had to watch the safety and history reminders video. As if I could ever forget the history of it all after it being force fed to us in school each year. The Child Online Protection Act of 1998 (COPA) was passed to try and restrict online material that was harmful to us minors. Soon after, scientists realized that that wasn’t enough, as the internet itself was harmful to our developing brains blah blah blah which led to COPA10 of course. Watching the video, I am reminded of all of the riots that ensued after COPA10 was passed, and I’m just glad that everyone has chilled out about it now.

Finally the worker returns with my phone, I quickly unlock it to see the brand new Safari App installed front and center, as well as YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and more now automatically downloaded.

In the car ride home I excitedly create my new social media accounts. I have had my usernames and profile pictures prepared for months now, and it feels surreal to actually be on the apps. It’s different than how I always pictured it...less intuitive.

I pop my head up after what must have been 15 minutes straight on my phone, hearing the familiar crunch of gravel as we pull into the driveway. I walk inside to find my siblings and dad gathered in the living room with netday signs and balloons crowding the couch and mantel. A beautifully wrapped rectangular box rests on the coffee table and I immediately head towards it as my family wishes me a happy netday.

Tearing off the wrapping paper, a beautiful, new, sleek laptop is revealed. My own laptop. My jaw drops in shock and I begin to shake with joy. My siblings smile knowingly as my mom begins to rattle off all of the safety things I need to keep in mind. I practically tackle her with a hug, ending her monologue and causing the rest of my family to chuckle.

I can’t help myself, I immediately flip open the laptop, scan my thumbprint to unlock it, and open up the internet browser. This is the first time I have ever held a laptop (if you don’t count the time I snuck into my sisters room when I was 6 because she had fallen asleep with her laptop on her bed and forgotten to lock it up). First things first, I google my name. It takes me a painstakingly long time to find and tap each of the letter keys to spell out my full name...going to take a while to get used to this whole typing thing I guess. My newly activated social media accounts pop up, as well as an article about my high school lacrosse team that I had never seen before.

It’s overwhelming to think about the abundance of new things I have access to via the internet. The possibilities seem endless and I immediately think about all of the things on my IBL.

I thank my parents for the incredible gift and dash up the stairs to my room. So much to do, so much to learn and explore! I plop down on my bed and my fingers hesitate over my keyboard, trying to find the letters to spell out my next adventure.


I had heard of this internet site on which you can buy practically anything ever, but hadn’t been able to quite wrap my mind around it until now.

My eyes dash all over the website, astounded by the pure mass of products and visuals. I timidly scroll through the home page, both astonished and euphoric at what I am seeing.

I can’t help but feel like a new way of living has begun.

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