When my book club had finished discussing Esmeralda
we expected more), the conversation turned to our children and our control over
their Internet habits. In this circle of women, I discovered that I was the odd
I found out that most of my friends have their children’s computers locked down and
tricked out with every kind of safety bell and whistle possible. In addition,
many of them make sure that the computer is in a common room of the house, so
that they can further control the activity. I have heard this advice before and
can certainly understand the concern we have for the safety of our children.
There are some freaks out there and we want to put up as much of a protective
barrier as possible. Was I not creating enough of a roadblock? Was I the “horrible”
mother? The one who forgets to sign the class trip slips, forgets snacks on
snack day… the one who doesn’t protect her kids from crazed Internet predators? For a moment, I wondered, but then I remembered that everyone has a different parenting style.
When our children, now 18 and 12, first started emailing, we
did have their incoming communications forwarded to our email addresses, but
eventually we stopped, and beyond that, they have a very minimum of policing. Did my son, at the age of 11 or so, Google “Boobs”
and come up with more than he bargained for? Yes, but he survived, unscathed.
My husband and I spend a lot of time with our children, we
talk, we listen, and we talk. Since they were little we have had the
conversations: “You know never to give your address or personal information to
anyone online, right?” ” You know never to meet anyone who pretends to be your
friend on Facebook, right?” To which they respond, “Duh, Mom!!”
They are not perfect, they certainly do some stupid stuff, but they have some sense. I was an only child, the focus of my parents’
lives. They knew my friends, they knew where I was, and they learned how to
trust me to make the right decisions. And you know what? Most of the time I
did. Yes, those were different Internet-free times, but much of this is about
trust and letting go. You try to set the ground rules for life and they pray that they
learn how to implement them. They need to see things and learn what to filter
out on their own, it’s a survival skill.
I understand protection, I’m a parent, after all, but I trust my
children on this. Call me crazy, but, knock on wood, so far it’s working.
Every parent needs to follow his or her gut when it comes to
these things. If 24/7 surveillance is what you’re feeling, you’ve got to go for
that. It just doesn’t feel like the right thing for my family. However, were I too see any particularly odd behavioral patterns
or weirdness in my kids, and suspected that it had anything to do with their
online activities; I would be the first to go into Special Ops mode. May that time never come.
Labels: Child Rearing, Internet control, Parenting