I’ve been keeping track of the recent discussions in regards to the Internet and family. Safety is important for any Wi-Fi connected home regardless of there being a family or someone living on their own. Facebook, Google, twitter, and YouTube combine to form the basis for this new social and interactive atmosphere for us to not only connect with one another but also to seek whatever information we wish. Understanding how interconnected our homes are with the world is very important to parenting in this day and age so I wanted to share what I’ve observed from children growing up these days who are exposed to today’s entertainment and media outlets.
Part time, I work for an entertainment company that mainly has me setting up and handling the extra entertainment for expensive and lavish mitzvahs. I am constantly exposed to children of this age group and in my experience I’ve seen the enormous range in which they interact with one another and their environment. One thing is very clear; kids between the ages of 9 and 13 will blow your mind by how much they know. It will shock you because your first thought is, “How the HELL do you know that!? HOW old are you again?”
We’re not living in the age of blurred out adult channels and potential magazines hidden in places that an adventurous and curious adolescent will find if he or she looks around the house hard enough. What was once considered rated R level violence can now be seen on prime time television and even in cartoons aired late night on Cartoon Network (anyone familiar with “Super Jail” at all?). I’d bring up something to my coworker from a film or tv show that I would consider to be for my age group and, next thing I know, the nearest group of kids chime into our conversation! They’re ability to connect with me about what I’d consider adult interests as a 24-year-old stop baffling me after the first few parties. My last “post” was a list so I decided I’d stick to the familiar style, as I break down the average preteen with Internet access:
- Kids probably know just as much as you do: When the word “sex” first came up, it was when I asked my mother where we came from. At 7-years-old at the time, I was handed a book with illustrations that told me what I needed to know. Today, if a kid with a developed literary comprehension hears the word “sex” all he has to do is google it. And thanks to the modern age…
- High Speed Internet= High Speed Absorbtion: I remember the day when I first used search engines with a 56k modem speed. Images took a minute to load; not to mention how long it took high content websites. Today, web pages and all sorts of content load at the blink of an eye. Now it all depends on how quickly the brain receives the information that limits children. With the Internet in their hands, they are able to learn everything and anything they want to know about very quickly. Thank God for parental locks, right?
- Parent Locks are virtually useless: Some parents see the best way to control their children from content “not suitable for their age” is by taking advantage of some sort of parental lock. To me, that’s very much like locking a gorilla in a cage made of toothpicks. Simply because if they don’t figure out how to get passed it, they’ll just get the info from a friend whose parents don’t use parental controls on internet usage. And with friends comes my last important point.
- The social network shares all: When a kid reaches that age where he or she definitely knows how to read and write, they have the capacity to learn whatever they can because they have finally reached that level of comprehension. They begin the adventure of absorbing whatever peaks their curiosity. Now take this adventurous child, and put he or she into a small band of adventurers. If Indiana Jones were actually the name of an adventurer’s squad, there would be nothing left uncovered in the world; no supernatural relic NOT in a museum. Truth is, the Internet turns them into a super adventurers squad. They would cover every ground much faster as a group than on their own. Kids fill in each other’s gaps and holes when it comes to things they are learning and figuring out. So whatever a kid didn’t google last night, their friends will tell them about it today because they most certainly did.
As adults, we tend to forget how quickly we grew up. The newer generations are reaching new levels of acceleration to the point that it is the parents’ job to make sure they don’t misuse what they learn from the world and end up making terrible mistakes. We can’t stop our children from learning; we can only control how they use the information given to them. Kids learn quickly and the urgency of chiming in on what is fed to their brains is key to protecting them. After all, would you rather them learn about mature content from you or from an 8-year-old that just discovered what online pornography is?
Photo by Sailor Coruscant