For decades, the government, the public, and parents have debated the role that media plays in the development of children. First, it was television corrupting the youth. Then violence in video games became the culprit.
But no one source of media has raised the question of undue influence more than the unfettered access to potentially harmful or sensitive information presented by the internet. It’s simply too easy for children to see something their parents want to protect them from. On the other hand, understanding technology has practically become a prerequisite to attending school and functioning in the working world, and you don’t want your child to be stunted or miss out on developing marketable skills that every other kid has. So how can you be sure your sons and daughters are getting the most out of this valuable tool without letting them spend every waking moment glued to a monitor? You’re simply going to have to keep track.
While some parents set time limits on usage, others are more concerned with quality than quantity. The problem is that the internet is a tool for both communication and information, and kids need to understand how both aspects work.
This can make it difficult for parents to deny their children access to social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and any number of other interactive and friend-based offerings. While some parents grumble that their child’s language skills are crumbling because of the mass texting that occurs on these sites (sans grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and so on), the truth is that they are simply learning to communicate in a different way, one that is no less appealing and widespread for the fact that many adults deplore it. The ability to communicate with one’s peers cannot be overstated, and many parents will have a hard time putting a stop to it for just this rationale.+
In addition, kids need to understand how information-gathering on the internet is done. Those who are capable of sifting, narrowing, and searching efficiently are in high demand in job settings. If your child is going to be able to compete both in school and eventually the professional world, they need to learn these skills now, while they’re still young. Children who are denied the chance to incorporate these valuable lessons into their lives at an early age will not only suffer a social stigma for their ignorance, they will have a very real problem down the road when they are expected to perform tasks without the general knowledge that the majority of their peer group possesses. Unless you want your child to face a severe disadvantage, growing up computer literate is absolutely necessary in this day and age.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to allow your children around-the-clock access to the internet. By setting parameters on hours of usage as well as content that can be viewed (check out v-chips or restrictive software to ban certain types of sites from your system), you still have some control over what they’re browsing. Studies show the average child is spending several hours each day involved in internet usage. A good rule of thumb, if you’re looking to set a schedule, is that they spend at least equal time involved in both homework and physical activity as they do on the internet. So unless they want to spend several hours studying and kicking a ball around the backyard, they will likely bow to this restriction (with only minimal complaint).
Sarah Danielson is a writer for Adiamor Diamond Engagement Rings
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