This is something that I have talked with a few of my friends about over the last few weeks. I think this subject is always going to divide people as we are all protective and want the best for our children.
My daughter will be 10 in July and she is getting to the age where she wants to talk to her friends on Skype etc. She also is interested in watching videos on how to do her hair, loombands and funny animals.
But what should you actually allow them to access via the Internet?
With Skype, I have allowed my daughter to create an account. I have helped her do it and I have control over who she talks to and when she talks to them. I always know what she is talking about and I personally am completely happy with this.
Facebook however, I am not sure of. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all state in their policies that you have to be 13 years old to open an account. I think we can all say we know children that have an account on one of these sites.
13 is a good age for these sites. It gives teenagers that little bit of independence, lets them have a bit of fun with their friends online and at that age they are a little bit more sensible and should (I would hope) have learnt the dangers of the Internet.
Am I willing to let my 9 year old on Facebook, no. Although she is very sensible for her age, I feel that Facebook is not the place for her. Even with a profile set to private people can send her friend requests and if she thinks they are another child, she may accept them. From there private chat may start and I do not want to think about where that could end. The same goes for Twitter and Instagram.
I do not feel any of those platforms are right for her now, in the future maybe, but for now, no.
Now that said, I have allowed her to appear in a Youtube video with me. The video is posted on my Youtube account, I control the comments etc on it (good or bad she won’t see them). It is my account so I can keep her away from troll/pervy comments.
I do let her search for videos on Youtube as I can see what she is doing and what she is watching. She has never watched anything that she shouldn’t and if a video she is watching has swearing in, she tells me straight away and stops watching it (like I said she is sensible, probably more sensible than me).
Is it right or wrong for me to allow this? For me personally this is fine, I feel comfortable with how much she is on the Internet, but I understand others may not agree with this. We all have our opinions on this subject and they are all going to be different.
Who knows, 20/30 years in the future kids will probably be online from the day they are born. More and more of our lives seem to be happening online now, we are all going to have to face this dilemma sooner or later.
The best thing we can do is educate our children on how to be safe on the Internet and what dangers to look out for. Teach them to keep themselves safe, hopefully they will teach their friends too.
Take care all.