I hate topics that due to their nature get very close to the political nature I hate to give them time of day.
However, I’ve kind of had enough of two lines being bounced around:
“The Internet is a lawless state.”
“Will someone think of the Children?”
Here’s my opinion while I’m assembling the troll proof bunker.
OK before we go any further, this post is aimed at parents and potential parents, so if you’re under 18, drag your parent or guardian here NOW!
Firstly the lawless state concept… it isn’t a lawless state if you know how to handle the fallout from it.
Parents have quite a powerful role in this however the ban hammer doesn’t work. Telling a teenager not to do something is like putting a red rag to a bull (from personal experience).
However you need to do something and some would argue programmes like “Net Nanny” are the solution.
Yes that works however reality doesn’t have filters and having a kid protected until they are 18 leaves them vulnerable to real life, also, they won’t have the skills to make judgements about what the internet really is,
it is a temporary solution to protect the youngest in society that needs to be slowly removed so that teenagers can learn safe internet practice.
So what is the solution? Its the classic responsibility and knowledge argument. You are responsible for making sure that kids have the knowledge and smarts to safely navigate the internet.
The one thing you should teach your children from early age is the following:
“The Internet does not always have the right answers”
Two important things this means for you as a parent:
- Teach them that if they are not sure if they have a reliable source, compare it to sources you know that are reliable.
- You have to answer questions and in the right way so that the answer satisfies the child or teenager.
Eventually a teenager will see something that is over 18 and you will discover they have OR they will follow point 1 and ask you.
First, go and look at the site yourself and identify warning signs, any respectable journalist, editor or web designer will have an age gate confirming age so identify that first then talk to the teenager about the warning signs that this site is over 18.
Secondly, take advantage of the situation to teach them about something useful. Teenager seen a violent action in war, explain why wars occur, teenager seen <shudder> porn, talk about relationships (all types of relationships).
Now I’m not a psychologist and I hope someone will tell me how far my opinions are off. I’ve written a lot here about the “lawless state” so I’m hitting the breaks for now.
…Ok debate can now begin and I can write part 2.