I can’t blame technology, including the internet, the safety (or insecurity) of your kids on the internet. I’ve been in the te fieldnika field for over twenty-five years, and it would be ridiculous and embarrassing if I were to advertise something that risks my child.
I really think they are more dangerous now than we were when we were kids. Let’s take a look at three different scenarios to contextualize my views: harassment, sexual predators, and violent content.
Think of a time when you were about the same age as your child. What did you do in the school yard? If you are unlucky, other children may have bullied you in school as a child. Maybe you even witnessed a bullying incident. The bullying usually stays on during your child’s days in the school yard. When the time comes to go home, the mental effects of the bullying are likely to stay with you, and when you return to school the next day, the bullying may have started where it left off: verbal and possibly physical abuse. The main thing is that you didn’t drag the bully home with you. I stayed in school. Today a child rarely has the luxury of stopping bullying in school.
Cyberbullying is based on the internet and you didn’t have the internet as a kid. Perhaps the closest analogy to something like the internet is a phone or an amateur radio, and it really projects my imagination. If someone wants to spread the word about you, the best thing they can probably do is tell their friends at school or maybe spread the word about the bully over the phone, a very slow and thorough way to spread the word about the bully.
I’ve seen live bullying episodes on the internet, specifically on Twitter and Facebook. Not only is news of the bullying spreading rapidly, but its instigators can do so anonymously. During her children’s time, bullying used to be facial, so she knew exactly who was behind the events. Today the probability that a stalker will remain anonymous is quite high. They hide behind fake profiles and user identities, then launch a “secret scary dissemination operation.”
Then is the kingdom of the predator. When you were a kid, were you ever afraid of being chased by a predator? Have you ever thought that they (the stalker) will take you and get serious? Do your parents think there is a robber behind every dark corner? I know for a fact that I was never afraid of such a thing, and neither were my parents. If my parents were concerned, it certainly didn’t overshadow or judge their lives. From time to time they may remind me to “not talk to strangers”. In fact, I felt very safe: I walked to school with my friends alone and played outside after sunset. Although there may have been real dangers, I never felt threatened. I felt completely safe!
The meaning of violence?
When you start comparing the violence you experienced as a child with that of children today, there is a huge difference. When I was the same age as my son now, the amount of violent content he was exposed to was tiny compared to today’s child content.
I was born in South Africa and as a distraction my parents rented 16mm movies on the weekends. 16mm reel-to-reel films were the South African to North American equivalent of the previously popular BETA or VHS. The 1967 film Bonnie & Clyde was the most violent film my parents rented, as we (the kids) were sent to our bedrooms to play while they (our parents) watched the movie.
Fast forward to 2011 – I can list at least a dozen online or console games that are very violent, and I know kids under the age of 10 who play these games. I won’t go into details about the games, but Common Sense Media rates them as “Not for Kids” and “5-Round Violence”.
About Internet for Kids
So when you start comparing children with others and when you are a child, it should be clear that today’s children are more vulnerable than the previous children. Your initial thought, after considering harassment, sexual predators and violent content, you are more likely to blame the internet. Isn’t the internet the big difference from time to time? It may sound like that, but I don’t think the internet and technology are to blame.