I feel pretty lucky living in a semi-rural environment amongst rambling fields, farms and cute villages with a stable on every corner.  Right now you are probably picturing a country house with Laura Ashley chintz curtains and wall to wall book cases stuffed with classic tales and Mary Berry cookbooks?  Well scratch that thought, our house is a post war 3 bed semi with roller blinds, we don’t own a bookcase, or any books for that matter and we have a total of 5 computers and a TV in practically every room, heck there is even a TV in the bathroom!

Home Internet-Cafe

We are the fully fledged modern techie family.  I live life on the internet and so do my children.  My son was surfing the internet and indeed the delights of You Tube at the age of 4.  He used to search for “Monster Trucks” and sit there for hours and hours watching video clips. We typed it in once for him and he learnt that he only needed to put the first couple of letters into Google and it would pop up as if by magic.  But it would only take a slip of his podgy little chocolate spread fingers and his viewing wouldn’t have been trucks humping up and down on top of each other!!

Seeing my innocent little boy working the web so effortlessly made me wonder if I should be worried…..?  Worried I might lose my job to a toddler!  No, seriously, I did question if we had got to the point where we should install some sort of parental controls.  Well……my son is now almost 9 and my daughter is 12 (and I now feel like I am just about to stand up in a self-help group and admit to some sort of inadequacy) but…  We have NEVER installed ANY form of parental controls, locks, software programmes, blocks , NOTHING.

So when The Telegraph headline It’s up to parents to protect children online, says Google caught my eye, I read on with interest.   It seems there is pressure on the government from various groups to introduce an opt-in system so that all users are automatically excluded from explicit sites and should anyone wish to view them they would have to specifically indicate that wish to do so. Google claim that parents should be responsible for supervising what their children are viewing on the internet.

Of course they should and I would even go one step further to state that the plentiful tools out there to help block the nasty’s are just the lazy option! Oh yes we could all just install a few nifty bits of software and Bobs your pervy little uncle, the little darlings can play away in their own little bubble of safety. So how about this for radical?  Take the time to educate children about the internet, how useful it can be, how much fun it can be but also how dangerous it can be. Errrrrr bit like real life then really?
The amount of parents I have come across who radically de-clutter their homes because their child starts toddling and investigating.  Heaven forbid that Aunty Rose’s clay vase that she made at night school gets worn as hat, or that beautiful tea cup and saucer you carefully acquired from the local hotel at afternoon tea gets served up at the next teddy bears picnic. Worse still the picture of Nanny Maureen is used as a tea tray and then discarded at high speed into the garden pond.  So what is the natural reaction? Best move them out of harm’s way. No! No! No!  We should be educating our children about what is acceptable and what is not, what they can play with and what they can’t, what is right and what is wrong.
The internet is no different and should be treated in the exact same way.  Children should be taught that the internet is not just for children and that grown ups use it too, but there are some things that you just don’t touch. I am not saying show them all the sights and tell them not to look, chances are, as in our house hold they haven’t even stumbled across them yet. But prepare them for the fact that internet is not just a kid’s playground. I have to admit I was quietly chuffed by the results of the Telegraph’s poll which found that 87.58% of readers agreed that the parents should be taking responsibility for making sure their children are not watching porn and the majority of the 240 comments strongly backed this up.
But how do you feel?

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