Raising kids in an online world - what is neglect and what is safe?
Parental Digital Negligence - a phrase coined to capture a generation at risk of online harm
I was with a group of children whose ages range from nine to ten, they were talking about one of their favourite games, Roblox. They explained how they were fully supervised with the computer in the main room and they could only be on it for a maximum time periods.
Which all sounds well thought through and sensible except for the fact that Roblox is a site used by a prolific amount of paedophiles. When I was talking to a colleague about this the phrase 'parental digital negligence' came to me. And it does not take much digging to know the harm and the types of users that are using these game sites like Roblox, Minecraft, TikTok. I totally get the sensible approach, I really do, its hard swimming against a tide of digital peer pressure – 'everyone' literally is on these games, and it is easy to feel like a prude or paranoid parent.
Meeting with a woman who works for the Internet Watch Foundation and my fears were proved correct. TikTok is used by paedophiles to watch children, we would never in a million years put our children in a room of paedophiles, not one parent would do that but yet most parents of young children today are doing exactly that. We are facing a crisis of childhood, I read recently that our teenagers are the safest they have ever been but the most depressed and suicidal.
We have to be willing to open our eyes, to truly assess the risk, just the same as if it were the real world; we would never let a small child wander down the street and met their friends but yet that sort of carelessness or we could even say neglect is now common place in our parenting. This isn't easy terrain to traverse but as a parent of a pre teen I am wanting to find a way and will do this with you and share what I find to be helpful and useful along the way.