As a mom, I’m always worried about how my daughters interact in the outside world. I have always been vigilant about online safety with them being online whether it is to do research for a school project, to play games, or to chat and e-mail friends and relatives. Years ago they would either go out and play with their friends, or call them on the telephone and talk as the day is long.
Today those concepts are being replaced by the emergence of the evergrowing technological advances of man. It seems when a child is born, they come out of the womb already knowing how to use technology. Their nursery is set up with computerized monitors, mobiles, and toys. Their thermometers have digital reads, and their toy boxes filled with computerized learning toys (what ever happened to the glass thermometers with the mercury in it that we grew up with huh)?
These children grow up in a world that is far more advanced than the one we, 30-40 somethings ever had to deal with so quickly. Every year there is a new digi-ma-something on the market, and these kids (the iGeneration) grasp at it so quickly it makes my head spin. Although I enjoy watching my kids learning and becoming smarter and smarter by the day (minute), it is somewhat scary because I do not want them getting forever lost in cyberspace.
I like to believe that I am somewhat computer savvy, and I try to stay on top of the latest gadgets, and computer programs out there, so that I am not behind the times and able to teach my girls a thing or two about the “Net”. I also encourage my children not to be so consumed being social over the computer. I tell them to go out and hang with your friends. The computer should be a means to communicate mostly if you cannot communicate on a person-to-person level. With 4 computers in my apartment, it is so important to interact with my children outside of the computer (board games, cards, drawing, or baking) because we can get caught up with what we do on the computer.
There have been times when I witnessed my 18-year-old multitasking with 3 or 4 windows open with chats going on, while she is listening to music and texting or talking to another friend on the cell phone. Sometimes I’d wonder how she kept up with which conversation went to which friend. To my surprise, she was on top of it all.
My second daughter just entered the social networking world, after a few years of wearing her father and I down. We decided to let her have a page so that she can keep up, but we put very strict stipulations on it. I immediately put up a disclaimer of no profanity or lewd conduct on her page for all of her friends to see. I monitor her page everyday to make sure she is keeping up with her end of the bargain. She has also been asked to start a blog which I will have total control over if we decide to let her do. My baby girl could care less at this point about the social network, but she loves to video chat with her grandma. For the most part, she in into playing games over the internet and listening to music (I’m good with her for about 4 more years, I think).
I think that allowing a child to interact with others over the internet is a good thing as long as the child is surfing, blogging, and communicating in a safe and healthy way. I have given my daughters the “not-everybody-online-is-who-they-say-they-are speech, and I keep on top of everything they do and say online. I want them to be able to feel safe and make good decisions when navigating the cyberworld.