We asked some stalwarts a simple question. Here’s what Kym Niblock, chief executive officer at Lightbox, had to say.
I work in the online and devices industry and not a week goes by without someone asking me how to use parental controls, limit graphic video or pictures or install a ‘net nanny’ on the various devices our kids use. These devices can’t account for the human psyche and a friend told me a story of her 11 year old who had searched the term ‘hot chicks leather jackets’ in an effort to find a cute video his older brother had showed him of baby chickens dancing in leather jackets. Needless to say the results returned were considerably wider!
Both of my kids took to the Internet like ducks to water. They can’t conceive of a world where you can’t Google an answer – Google is a verb in our house! They know it’s not always the right answer but sometimes a place to start. They use YouTube like it’s a TV channel they can personalise for themselves and would rather get their TV from there as every episode is always available.
From time to time they come across inappropriate material, even with the devices locked down to the extent that I can set up, and as a result, we’ve had some interesting dinner time conversations about why people do the things they do (adult nappies anyone?).
As parents we need to be on the ball about how much our kids take in and where it’s coming from. As the sexualisation of children marches on and the Internet provides a unique form of ‘validation’ of experiences both real and imaginary, we must get better at explaining things we don’t plan for our kids to see. No amount of parental controls will plan for that unexpected ‘hot chicks’ video so if we want our kids to remain connected then we need to be very present in what they see and be ready to provide censorship, context and the necessary validation or explanation on that which they can’t yet understand. When the net nanny fails, there needs to be a trusted source who can explain things in an age appropriate way.
Over the next years we all need to be concerned about what our kids are seeing and hearing online and what contextual sense they make of it. Responsible communities make sure their young get the information they need to process the world around them.