My husband experienced somewhat of an “aha” moment when I pointed out to him that the football he loves to watch on the telly is much like how societal changes tend to take effect over the generations, in that they work in twos. With the football, a team that wins the league and / or the continental club competition tends to enjoy being at the top for about two years before another team rises up above it, in the same way that the transition between our grandparents’ generation and that of our parents had the both of them largely exposed to the same challenges.
It’s a huge leap from our parents’ generation to ours, for instance, whereas the transition from our generation to that of our kids largely has us both exposed to the same things. To be more specific, if your eldest kid as someone who is my age comes at you with some internet slang, chances are you’re up to speed with exactly what it means, whereas with our parents’ generation you’d first have to explain exactly what Twitter is and the subsequent “Tweet” synonymous with that social networking platform, so too what a hashtag is and its significance to the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
Heck, perhaps even the entire concept of the internet was somewhat of a dark abyss for many of our parents, so they perhaps had it harder in having to deal with all the potential threats that come with the use of social media and the internet at large.
Where our parents would give the dad a right old grilling for their eleven-year-old getting into trouble at school for bringing dad’s nudie mag to school, which he thought he’d hidden quite well in the broken toolbox in the attic, these days something like porn as one of the potentially harmful things our kids can get exposed to is as easily accessible as running a Google search.
Consequently, you’ll have to try and keep tabs on your kids’ social media usage and their use of the internet at large. You can only do your best, but try you must, even if it may feel like you’re fighting a losing battle.
While I can almost guarantee there is no sure-fire way of shutting out all potential online threats completely, the next best thing and perhaps the best thing to do properly, in any case, would be to educate your kids. Talk to them about what they do online, asking them about what they come into contact with.
Don’t give them the impression that their eyes are essentially getting dirtied by what they come across, whether they’re actively seeking it out or if they happen upon it by mistake. This way they’ll be open about exactly what it is they come into contact with, in which case you can then proceed to educate them about why it’s bad for them and why they need to try by all means to abstain from entertaining such harmful material circulating online.