“Mum Google is not good” thats the statement my daughter announced to me the other day. I had mixed feelings when I heard this from my child.
The mixed feelings were a combination of one I wondered what she had innocently seen and Two I knew instinctively that this represented a moment of what I term #TeachableMoments. A teachable moment is that moment when you have the ability to discuss a real situation that has popped up. As a parent you realise that you cannot always perfectly plan when you choose to teach something. Parenting is an on the go ready to react role. Like the talk about the birds and bees which you think will only happen when your child is a teenager! No such luck.
My past experiences and as a life coach has taught me to ask why before I react to comments. So when I heard “Google is bad” I knew to immediately dig further. So digging I did.
While she was in the middle of completing an assignment on “What if Shakespare wrote rap” she decided to google (of course!) “girls that are rappers.” At this point of narrating her story she paused and complete with an expression of shock she said and “do you know what I saw?…. I saw a picture of a boy dressed as a girl!”. Phew not so bad right?? In my mind not so bad but for her quite an anomaly!
How To React
I did the only thing we are allowed to do! Take ownership of the situation. This enabled us to to have a conversation both about what she saw but more about the reality that there are lots of things on the internet which are inappropriate. I went on to explain that Google is not bad…but some of the content you can find is not for children and that is what is bad. We also discussed the need for anti-spam and other ways to protect yourself online.
The truth is the internet is not going anywhere and any child born today seems to come technology abled. Parents and caregivers need to remember that content without context is very dangerous. Children still need the training to navigate all the information thrown at them. I say thrown at them because sometimes they do not always go looking but many times come across information that is inappropriate.
Internet Protection Conversations
While we need to do all in our power to protect our children from what they see online. We need to also empower them by having conversations. Have conversations about what to do if and when they come across inappropriate material. Afterall if you don’t train them who will?
Would you allow your 13 year old to meet a stranger, become friends and decide to meet without being supervised? What about allowing your teenager share personal information about herself to a 30 year old man. There are apps like Tinder that have location services and so Person X can ask to meet, because X can tell when #MissSunshine is in the vicinity.
That is the reality today! With every device and technology, a child has access to connect anytime and anywhere. They can literally meet when and where they like. If you don’t train them who will?
As a parent you need to Be Aware and Be Relevant
Where does that leave you? even more than before you need to be having real conversations with your child about what is appropriate both offline and online. As a parent you need to Be Aware and Be Relevant. If you are not aware of what’s going on you cannot influence your child positively. If your child thinks you speak different languages and not relevant to their lives today they will not communicate with you. The danger here is that they could then be learning everything from outside.
Put yourself in the position to understand the language of today and engage with your child to know what’s going on in their minds. The way you react to things will determine if they talk to you in the future on other matters or not.
Digital Parenting is real and here to stay – lets be one step ahead.