Yes, this post is about the internet. First, a quote:
“Do not raise your children the way your parents raised you. They were born for a different time.” Ali bin Abi Taleb
That quote is about 1,350 years old.
Most blog posts with a question in the title don’t really answer the question, or the question was rhetorical in the first place. I’m going to try to answer that one here.
As a parent, I want my kids, in no particular order, to be happy, safe and good.
As an internet safety professional second, I have very deep seated thoughts about how the internet plays into the above construct, and it does – my kids are online all the time.
Let’s go through the list.
Happy – Do I want my kids to be online less? There has to be a balance, sure, but I want them to be happy, and the internet is the platform that allows them to connect with much of what makes them happy – their friends, who are also online all the time, the games they’re interested in, the content that they want to read, the things that they think are funny or compelling or cool.
Your kids are probably online all the time too, and hopefully they seem happy. You can usually tell by the look on their faces. When they are online, can you tell whether their are safe? Being good?
Safe – The internet can be a scary place. To keep kids safe from predators and cyberbullies, you need to cover the basics about privacy settings, not talking to strangers and who to turn to when something doesn’t feel right. If you’re worried about your child falling in with the wrong crowd, or viewing inappropriate content, you’ll need an idea about what she is actually doing online and who she in interacting with.
Good – Just telling kids to act as responsibly online as they do in real life may fall short of getting the job done. The internet can feel like it’s less real than what happens face to face. Also, kids are often anonymous online or on their cell phones. Cyberbullying, illegal acts, inappropriate speech and actions can all be found on the internet. To be sure your child is acting appropriately, you need to get up to speed on which apps and social networks she is using and which sites she is visiting, and why. You can’t just ignore it and hope for the best.
It’s a big responsibility for parents.
All of the above go into why I’m so happy that we’ve created ThirdParent. Like-minded parents who have similar aspirations for their kids may be at a loss for how to allow access to the good that the internet offers for their kids without risking the bad. At ThirdParent, we believe that our solution really helps.
Telling kids to go outside and play doesn’t work as well as it used to. I’m OK with that.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.