My boys are aged 11 and 5 and they bond over YouTube. They sit there for as long as I let them, watching videos of strange cats and guilty dogs. Then, when I leave the room to make dinner they start Googling and next thing I know they are watching groups of boys pranking their friends by dressing up as zombie girls. My son asked me how to spell Miley Cyrus last night and when I asked why, he said there was a funny twerking video his friends had told him about. Keeping an eye on their online use has become a major part of modern parenting.
As parents, we can no longer choose what our children are exposed to. We can only manage it as much as possible. I joke to my husband that I can’t believe modern parenting involves watching endless funny cat videos, Googling ideas for birthday cakes and frantically signing up multiple devices to WiFi.
I once read safety guidelines on keeping kids safe online and it suggested getting rid of WiFi and having one dial up account set up in the living area. How unrealistic. We have multiple phones and devices…how inconvenient and annoying. I choose instead to navigate my children through this new world. I want them to be savvy when it comes to online and technology.
My best friend’s husband works in IT. Whenever she and I start trying to figure out how to reduce our kid’s time online and on devices he says he feels that would be a mistake. “All jobs involve the internet and devices; they need to be proficient in them all to have a successful career”. He’s right. Kids learn socialisation online, it’s educational and it’s a useful skill to have for future careers. The internet and using devices is now part of their education.
When my son asks me a question I don’t know the answer to, he Googles it. At the moment he is obsessed with volcanoes and natural disasters. Scary yes but he’s 11. He already knows about them so by educating himself it removes the fear and mystery. Now he explains to me how safe Australia is compared to other countries when it comes to natural disasters.