In other words, do we know what our kids are doing online?
I can’t say that I’m the most tech-informed parent, but I’m a tech-savvy person and I have a good understanding of the latest tech trends and I’m active on social media. However, I will never know 100% what my son is doing online.
Since both, my partner and I are computer geeks, so is our son. It is then my duty to teach him how to use technology, how to get fascinated by it, how to explore new things but also, and most importantly, how to be aware of the dangers and learn to stay safe and protected.
It is not an easy task to do, but I’m determined to do my best to teach him.
Many parents are technophobic or ignorant or worse, do not respect technology
Many parents my age, or close to, even though they also grew up with technology and the birth of Google, Facebook and social media in general, haven’t embraced it in the same way, or even if they use it, not everyone understands how it works and the privacy issues that come with it.
I remember having classmates that stated, “I’m simply not interested”. And you know what, that is totally fine. However, if you are a parent and share the same mindset, then it is not fine.
I have seen kids as young as 9 years old, with the latest iPhone and an Instagram account, posting selfies. I have no idea what rules that kid’s parents have, and I want to be optimistic, however, I find it alarming for a young child to carry an expensive device and expose themselves online, without obvious control.
- Child predators
Cyberbullying is a thing, unfortunately, so we must teach our kids to protect themselves.
We will never be able to do it 100%, but we can teach them to spot dangers and teach them how to use social media with respect and awareness.
Sure, many parents, including me, are on social media, posting things about their private or family or friends’ lives. But do all of them know all the dangers that are out there?
Do they know how kids are going to behave when they are online? Do we know what it means to be a teenager online nowadays?
Professionals like educators, psychologists and doctors, know how to spot the impact technology and the devices used by kids, have on them. But, I don’t think the rest of us can see it in the same way.
We teach them how to eat, walk, and talk, we should teach them how to exist on the internet world as well
I know it’s not easy to grasp, but we teach our kids how to walk, eat, talk, and so on. Technology is here and it is one of the things we need to teach them as well. No matter how much you wish it, we will never go back to the 80s or 90s. We must learn to live with the internet, social media, and everything that comes along with them.
We don’t have to know it all, and frankly, it is impossible, however, we need to have talks with our kids and teach them to be kind and respectful, even when they are online.
My son gets a lot of screen time. I try to teach him that everything needs to be done in moderation and that taking breaks is important for the brain and body.
He is not allowed to have his own social media accounts. He has access to an old iPhone of mine, but with no sim card, and mainly to play Pokemon Go and he does it with me.
I’m not completely honest. He has a Roblox account and we have activated all the parental controls we can. And we often play together. I try to tell him to not trust people he doesn’t know. Of course, not everyone on Roblox is a predator or criminal. There are kids like my son who just want to play and have fun online.
There is a thin line between checking that everything is ok and controlling without trust what your kid is doing. However we must do it, and we must have open communication with our kids so that they can come to us and tell us if they spot anything weird.
What I’m trying to get at, without pretending that I’m an expert or anything, is that having a good communication with our kids is crucial so that they can always feel safe and willing to come to us whenever they have problems.
My daily goal as a mother, is to always be there for him, listen to him, participate in his online gaming sessions (whenever I can, I’m yes I’m a gamer myself but how much more Roblox can I take?), and encourage him to have his friends over as I believe the real social interaction is the best, even if they do end up playing together video games. At least they are close.
I also feel like we need to block certain websites and words and put some filters on our firewall to prevent my son from being exposed to things he shouldn’t. I know when I was 19-20 years old, back in the mIRC days and Web 1.0, there were websites where you could see the most grotesque things. And we were searching for them. You can argue that I was an adult. And yes, I was not destroyed by it but definitely disgusted by some.
But these are things that are definitely NOT ok for kids, or teenagers.
I have linked it above, but here it is one more time. This is an amazing article by Amber Mac, which inspired me to write this article here, and even though it is from 2017 it is still valid and very informative. I really encourage you to read it.