I have come to realize that it is easier to wake up my five year old for school early morning (and you know how arduous that can be!) than to take the phone away from him. The ‘five more minutes’ plea is far easier to duck and outclass while pulling the blanket away rather than while pulling the phone from his hands. Children today are in many ways addicted to gadgets and devices that open up whole new worlds for them with a tap of the screen. To make matters more complicated, you have internet that is easily accessible on practically all devices, which makes it both a bane and a boon for the younger generation.
Undoubtedly, living with internet and technology is a way of our life and we cannot really blame our children for spending more time on the phone or tablet. The net is this amazing virtual world which has information on almost everything and anything and children can find this dissemination of too much know how, overwhelming, confusing and at times too easy to be true. This is why, as parents we need to step up and ensure that our children are exposed to the best of what the internet has to offer and shield them from its worst. Hence, we need to build and sustain some sort of immunity for our kids while they spend their time online.
Just to put in perspective, can you imagine that our kids can easily find out how to conduct dangerous experiments with acids or chemicals, can be playing games online that demand money or worse lay out tasks such as suicide to win, pick up foul language while watching something online, or learn how to cheat and steal. They can make unknown friends whose credentials are hard to track, watch age inappropriate content such as, porn or naked pictures, or can also share personal information unknowingly to people who may be faking their identity. The fact, that the internet allows people enough room to create duplicate identities, profiles, as well as opens up access to content and information that is extremely vast and as varied from explanation of math concepts to videos on dark magic to horror and sexual content, makes it a tad bit scary to have our children digging through this pool of myriad data.
So, how do we build the immunity that our children require to dodge the unpleasant and sick content? Some ways are to use parental filters, try Youtube kids apps for Android or check the ‘safety’ box on Youtube while logged through a PC, establish the family security settings on Windows or the Family Link service (introduced in USA) from Google. However, the best immunity is to explain to the children and give them a sense of what is right and wrong. It is important to not over react when your children use a bad word or asks questions about sexuality when they see it online. It is best to firmly talk to them about risks of internet as well as be aware of when and how much are they using it.
In the end, the more we try to control our kids, the more they may choose to hide stuff from us. In case of their online activities, it is best to be cognizant if not extremely savvy of how the online world works. Be a friend to your child and help him explore the net universe without compromising on privacy, intent and content.