Defining what’s right and what’s not is not always as simple as it sounds. There are myriad layers of reality and situations depending on individuals, their capabilities, interpretations and perspectives. Therefore evaluating a person or situation based purely on popular notions may not often be the best way to judge either.
In our modern world, one of the biggest challenges to parenting has been posed by the ubiquitous internet – the great web of information that has irreversibly altered the way we see our world. While it comes with a plethora of advantages and conveniences there are very real dangers that lurk just beneath that can threaten the safety and wellbeing of our children, not to mention expose them to content that is ugly and inappropriate for their age. Much has been rehashed about this topic by alarmed parents who would do all they can to steer their kids away from the potential dangers and improper influences that the virtual world could expose them to, and understandably so.
So what is my stand on this topic – as a mother of two young girls – one just entering her teens and the other on the threshold of adulthood? While I am all for safeguarding the privacy and wellbeing of the child on the internet, do I really support constant policing of each and every online activity that my child engages in? Are we being too simplistic when we blame the internet for spoiling our children? And are we being too judgmental when we label parents and children as being too free, based on what they watch on the internet?
Technology is going to outpace us and will continue to spring new surprises on every generation of parents and children. These are challenges that will never cease and parenting will forever reel under the stress of the tug of war between the old and the new. We cannot really shut the doors of technology on our children nor is it possible to monitor every browsing activity especially when it comes to older children – those in their late teens. Forbidding them from watching shows that we believe are inappropriate would only serve, in my opinion, to heighten their curiosity and may even encourage them to be furtive about it.
What can come to our rescue are solid values and good old trust. Parenting is an ongoing process – it is all about keeping communication channels open, it is all about discussions, about reading together, having fun together and letting your children know that no matter what, you will stand by them. It is also about allowing them to make choices as they grow older, about respecting their privacy (within reasonable limits of course) and about letting them take responsibility for their decisions (again in moderation). It is about being vigilant to their mood swings and in tune with the slightest changes in their behaviour. Most of all it is about instinct –that gut feeling that tells you more about your child than any psychological theories can.
It is these values that have held me in decent stead (or so I believe) as a parent – and a working one at that. With spending so many hours away from home, supervising the internet has never been an option. Neither has blocking the children from using it. So do I come in the category of parents that have raised children with too much freedom? And would it be correct to assume that children who have been raised without strict adult controls would necessarily go astray and lose all focus about their future?
I think it is time we let go of superficial assumptions of morality and understand that the root cause of the problem is not the technology but the lack of connection, communication and a sound value system. Once these have been put in place, I am convinced that no force in the universe can shake can shake that foundation.
Again – its only a gut feeling ….