My biggest fear, as a geeky mother, is that in my geekalicious arrogance I will fail to keep up on the latest technologies employed by kids and teens, thus falling dreadfully behind and becoming completely unaware of the dangers lurking in the digital shadows.
I pride myself on being a smart web user; I’m careful about passwords, I keep my computers secure and virus-free, I can spot a phishing scam a mile away and I don’t leave a trail of credit card numbers around the internet. I don’t “friend” people I don’t know on Facebook, I regularly review my privacy settings and the policies of every network I participate in and I’m generally aware of and taking action against the dangers of living in a digital world as best I can.
The problem is that as much as technology was a part of my life growing up, it’s even more ingrained in my children. My girls have never known a day WITHOUT a touchscreen device. They haven’t used a computer or “smart” device not connected to the internet. They know, at 3 and 5, that the internet is a wealth of information, fun, games, videos, movies, clips, songs, coloring book printouts, craft ideas and all manner of things to purchase. At 3, my youngest understands that I can order toys from the computer and have the mailman deliver them to us within a few days. My five-year-old understands that if I can’t rent a movie at a RedBox, I might be able to check the availability of another local RedBox with an app on my phone, or I can stream it from Netflix, Amazon Video, or rent it “on the TV.”
As the kids get older, my husband and I have a plan: one family computer, in the living room, to be used during regular daytime hours only. We haven’t figured out the nitty gritty–how old they need to be before they can use whatever the new Facebook is, or when they can have a (smart)phone, or how closely we’ll monitor their online presence. Some days I’m determined that we’ll install a key-logger and in lieu of sex, hubby and I will review computer use logs before going to sleep for the night. Other days, I realize that it’s going to depend entirely on my girls, on the company they keep and, most importantly, what’s out there on the internet and what I consider dangerous.
I know for sure I’ll be keeping a close eye on them–I just haven’t decided whether I’ll feel it necessary to take a look at the virtual diaries stashed under the mattress.
What are your policies for controlling your kids’ digital lives?
*Yes, that’s a Star Trek reference.