Tag Archives: Internet and Children

Privacy? That’s what you get when you’re an adult.

21 Jan


In 1984, 15% of children between the ages of three and seventeen had computer access at home.  By 2010, the percentage of children with internet and computer access shot up to 85%.  In other words, most children can access the internet from home.


The most common activity kids engage in online?  Social media.  Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, GooglePlus, MySpace – all places where kids (and adults) meet and interact.  Some of these kids will be known to each other from school and other activities, friends from the neighborhood and extended family members, but lots of interactions will be with complete strangers whose age and gender and motivations cannot easily be verified.

And you know, we don’t really need to get all warped out of shape with fears of online predators and creepy serial killers attempting to lure innocent victims to certain doom.  The vast majority of interactions on social media are harmless and a great way for friends and family to stay connected and in touch with the circumstances of each other’s lives.  Without Facebook, I wouldn’t see what my friends in China had for dinner or what my brother and sister-in-law planted in their garden this year.



In general, social media sites are pretty awesome.

That said, there is a dark side.  Cyberbullying, slut-shaming, sexting, inappropriate messaging and images exchanged and then exchanged again.  Those things are not automatically bad in and of themselves. We all know how I feel about slut-shaming right?  I hate it!  Why, no girl should ever be called a slut, even if she’s dressed in a see through shirt with no bra and assless chaps!



Yeah, right.




Where did this idea come from that a child’s activities on social media should be private?  Oh, I’m so glad you asked.  Allow me to enlighten you:


Back before there was such a thing as computers and the internet, there was the diary.  Or journal, if you like.  A little book, often adored with a sparkly kitty and a special lock with a key, and it was a place to record one’s deepest, darkest, most squirmiest, embarrassing thoughts.  The classmates you had a crush on.  The teachers who were mean.  What jerks your siblings were being.

Anything and everything, and it was widely considered to be an absolutely private space that verged on sacred.  To read your child’s diary was the height of parental intrusion.

Fastforward:  kids haven’t changed, but the diary sure has.  Now it’s possible to publish your ideas, where they can be read and mocked and ridiculed not just by everyone you know, but everyone in the world with an internet connection.  Children’s most private thoughts are fodder for a bored world with little sympathy and no empathy.

What to do?  Well, a really effective response is to pound the walls, screaming in rage and frustration and then write an impassioned plea to the world to just CHANGE ALREADY.


Yeah, no.  There is only one response to this brave new world children inhabit:  BE A PARENT


Another word for parent is GUARDIAN.  You are responsible for guarding your children, protecting them from malign influences and making certain they do not throw themselves, however inadvertently, in harm’s way.  You would never let your toddler play on the interstate.  It’s unthinkable.  All that traffic zooming by at high speed, distracted drivers occupied with their own thoughts, the potential for imminent disaster and even death.


The internet is no different.  It’s no coincidence that the volume of participants on the internet is called “traffic”.




It is your job as a parent to safeguard your children.  And if they kick up a fuss, too fucking bad.  They’re kids. What do they know?

Here are some tips for how to do that:

No computers (or TV) in the bedroom.  The computer should be a main area with the screen facing out so you can see what is on it when you walk by.


You are a friend on Facebook.  You know your child’s password and you will log in and post as a parent in response to anything inappropriate and then promptly unfriend the transgressor.

Randomly read texts on their phone.  It’s not “their” phone anyways.  If you pay for it, it’s YOURS.

Use the maximum privacy settings

Check the browsing history

Talk to your kids about what is and is not acceptable.  Set limits.  Enforce consequences when rules are broken.

Phones are on the counter every night before bed.  No late night texting.


Whatever you do, YOU MUST PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN.  It’s not an option.  It’s an obligation. YOUR obligation.

Don’t let your children play in traffic.


Lots of love,


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