Do you sometimes feel like you should just ban the internet for your kids? That moment when they have had too much screen time… or are always wanting the laptop. Too much screen time can sometimes be a serious problem. When we have tweens, it really gets out of hand as to how much we can control them too. What are they seeing… who are they talking too? Are they sharing too much personal information… there is so much to keep an eye on. At times like this, it is natural to feel like you would want some control. I know many parents who have just banned the internet for their kids.
If you are from my generation and reading this, then I am sure you’d agree that our parents really weren’t this strict about a lot of things that we are about these days. I don’t think they ever thought of technology as a threat to their children. No doubt, it was all new and most of us didn’t know what kind of danger mobile phones and the internet posed but even then, I think, it was a lot of freedom that we got in our days.
I keep telling myself that I should trust my children and that I should give them time to learn to handle their own problems before stepping in. As parents, we need to understand that there is a time to talk to them and there is a time to take action against them.
If you think there is something wrong then it is our job to sit down with them and talk it out. Sometimes, they need us to act. Like for example, you have seen a case of bullying or sharing too much information online. You have to step up and stop them from sharing that information. You have to find out who is bothering them and how you can protect them.
For the past four months, I have been researching, reading and collecting all the information I can about the ways in which I can keep my children safe on the internet. I strongly believe, that children need technology. We are in an ever changing world. Just as you would teach your children skills like reading writing and counting, you ought to teach them to use technology too. Most of us do start out enthusiastic about it, then trouble hits. Your children start to misuse it. They are in and out of your documents, you have security issues and you catch them on you tube or google, searching for stuff that they shouldn’t be and then when time-outs and with-holding priveleges don’t work either you wonder if you should just ban this whole internet thing in the first place.
Should I ban the internet?
No you shouldn’t.
You shouldn’t ban the internet because you cannot ban it. If you restrict it at home, your kids will find other places to use it. And when that happens… you are in a bigger trouble than you were with them messing your stuff up. Here are 5 main reasons why I think you should never ban the internet for your child.
1. You will disadvantage your child in terms of educational resources.
The internet is a huge resource of information. Think of it as the library. Just like there are good books, bad books and inappropriate books, so has the internet. In the fast paced life that we live, education is advancing too. There is every reason for our children to be on the internet. Your child can explore new ideas, gather information for the topics that interest him; he can look for more references for what has been taught at school; find easier methods to understand a topic and he can virtually travel the world understanding multi cultures and histories. They also get entertainment in the form of videos and games and then there is their chance to communicate and stay in touch with their families and friends. When you switch off the internet for them, all this is hindered. You are disadvantaging them in a skill that they need to survive in today’s world. You have to mention ‘computer and internet skills‘ even in resume these days, you know…
2. Lack of trust.
The one thing that every parent should give their child is trust. Without trust your child will never have the confidence in himself to be true to himself and others. When you switch off the internet, your child will find ways to get on it. They may not be doing it in front of you but they will always be trying to find the passwords, keys and ways to get themselves on it secretly. It isn’t like if you shut off the internet at your home, your child has it gone out of his life. He can get on the internet at other places like school or a friend’s place or even internet cafes. This means you cannot trust your child at all. This will also mean that your child will not trust you either. They will ‘have fun’ at a friend’s place but they will not tell out of fear that you may get that banned too. What purpose have you fulfilled with banning the internet this way, again?
3. Disadvantage yourself with the opportunity to educate.
As I was saying, when you switch off the internet at home, it means your child is going places to find that WIFI signal. He will be seeing stuff, reading stuff, meeting people online and watching stuff too. Since you think that there is no internet at home, there is no reason to talk about it. That means, you are not educating your child about the proper way to use that channel. What things your child should have watched, read or seen with appropriate guidance and supervision, your child is doing it on his own. You have given up on your responsibility and also opportunity to educate your own child. When we, as parents educate our children, we do so with every right intention. We know our children. We know their faults and we know their strengths. We also know their temperaments. Our methods of teaching our children are tailor made according to the way the child is. In books and in schools, it is educating the mass. The language that every child understands will be used. What I am saying is that when we rely on our education system or schools to educate our children there is a gap that remains. Nobody can educate your child the way you can, so why should you give up on that opportunity to teach your child the rights and wrongs (rights and lefts too) about the internet. Wouldn’t it be more educative for them if you did it yourself?
4. They have no idea what ‘inappropriate’ is.
As I said, when you educate your child, you educate him/her from their level of understanding. Different cultures and societies have different level of what is morally acceptable and what is not even though some practices are considered inappropriate by all. When your children aren’t getting their moral education from you, they will differ in their thinking of liberal and conservative thinking. If you live in a multicultural environment, there will be a clash of what you consider as right and what is indecent. When this form of thoughts arise, there will also be a rise in the choice of freedom of expression. There is a lot inappropriate freedom of expression these days, isn’t there?
5. No idea about ‘safety’.
A parents main concern is always the safety of his child. Safety, whether it is online or offline, should always be talked about at home. It is highly possible for you to avoid talking about internet safety when you ban the internet. When you have taken your child off the internet and he is going off to his friends place to surf the net, there is every chance that he may become a victim to internet predators. There is also a very high chance that he will not come to you in case he has been a victim of cyber bullying.
These are 5 reasons that I feel, are enough to shake us out of our belief that things will get better without the internet. These reasons, although they apply to the use of technology as a whole, are not enough when it comes to deciding whether to give your child a mobile phone or a tablet. That is a totally different topic and another hornet’s nest that we so want to kick!
Have you been bothered by your child’s internet usage? Do you worry about the impact of technology on our kids? Do share your thoughts. Join us on Facebook!
More posts you may like: