How do parents balance the wealth of resources available on the internet with the inherent dangers of such a space?

Photo by Blake Israel

As the internet age evolves, the question of the relationship between young people and the internet is one that is also developing as fast as technology. Even though no one on the editorial board is a parent, we believe that our generation, more than ever, is able to speak to the importance of establishing the boundaries on the internet at a young age. 

However, the internet is far more developed than it was when we were growing up, so it is important to note that as we consider these topics, we are simply extrapolating from our experiences rather than simply extending them.

The internet, more than ever, makes children extremely vulnerable and susceptible to danger. When the internet was still developing, it was relatively easy to establish safety rules between parents and children: stay away from certain sites, avoid strangers and do not tell anyone your personal information. However, the rise of social media sites begins to blur all of these lines. 

When websites like Instagram and TikTok encourage users to put their entire personal life on the internet and constantly interact with strangers, it is difficult to apply traditional internet safety advice in these situations. As the culture of how we use the internet changes, parents are often not able to keep up and advise their children accordingly.

Nothing has highlighted the dangers of the internet more than the rise of child celebrities. Family social media accounts and parents posting their children have shown how dangerous the internet can be for children as pictures of children are posted elsewhere on the internet and disparaging comments are made. In addition, children who have their pictures posted do not have the power to consent to having their image plastered across the web, even though it could have far reaching consequences well into adulthood.

With all these dangers on the internet, it is easy to just suggest that parents simply should not let their children use their technology. However, this strict viewpoints comes with its own issues. For example, as the culture on the internet changes, the culture of our society changes as well. 

Social media, such as Snapchat, has become the primary form of communication for many younger people. Furthermore, not having these social medias can cause their own for of unintentional ostracism. 

More academically, it is also important to note that there has been a shift in education towards electronic-based learning. This means that if you keep your children away from all electronics, they may start at a disadvantage when they begin schooling.

Considering these two very opposing arguments, we encourage moderation. Rather than completely barring children from the internet or providing them with completely unsupervised aspect, we encourage setting flexible boundaries. 

Instead of emphasizing control, we encourage parents to emphasize conversation. By having a less rigid boundaries and ideas around the internet, parents and children can both work together to ensure the maximization of the resources on the internet while minimizing the danger.

In addition, it is important to emphasize that much of the responsibility of making the internet a safer place also falls to the corporations running these massively popular social media sites.

Rather than having an algorithm focused on encouraging an addiction to media, it is important that we encourage them to support the health of the younger generation. 

Moreover, as Tech students, some of us will begin to enter into the very companies that define the internet, and it is important that we are cognizant of the generational impact that our developments can have. 

In addition, we need to reconsider our own relationship with technology as we encourage our children to do the same. If we are constantly living in a technological world, how can we expect children to do any different?