The Problem Of Kids’ Access To The Internet Is Also A Problem Of Parents Blabbing About What Their Kids Like

Another parenting post.

We instituted some new guidelines in our house for Daughter’s use of the iPad and my old phone. She has to use them in open areas of the house, so she can’t take them into her room and close the door. This is because we heard some horror stories about kids Daughter’s age stumbling into awful content online. We also changed our wireless router configurations to use Open DNS as a web filter for our home network.

We informed her of these changes yesterday when she wanted to use the iPad to search how-to videos on YouTube Kids for a craft project she had thought up. Oh the tears.

Her objections took a surprising route, though. What started as, “Why do you have to watch everything I do?” became “Why can’t I be into things without you guys knowing about it?” which became “Why do you guys embarrass me by telling people about the things I like?”

So it’s only partly a tech issue. It’s also very much an individuation and privacy issue, where an eight year old wants to express an interest in things that are maybe a bit out of reach (Taylor Swift) and things that remain anchored in childhood (Shopkins) at the same time and is developing an acute self consciousness about her parents’ and her peers’ perceptions of her tastes.

It’s also not just a kid issue but also a parenting one in which Mom and Dad need to learn to respect a measure of hiddenness about Daughter’s life and not talk so openly to people she barely knows about her and her fascinations.

None of these issues were on our radar three days ago. The landscape changes quickly, so you need to keep up. That means learning new technical strategies but also spotting the things you need to get better at, the things you need to learn. I guess that process never stops.