A couple of nights ago (when I wasn't watching cricket or attending a school concert...) I went to an internet safety talk organised by the boys' school.
I learnt a lot.
I also learnt that my kids are not internet addict, that they have a pretty healthy relationship with the medium and if I think they're 'connected' too much I should remember that a) I am too. A lot. So lay off with the hypocrisy, b) just because I grew up without it, it doesn't mean my youth was better than theirs, and c) it's ok to say no, it's ok to be a parent and put limits and rules. My kids are not allowed any 'internet' connectable device upstairs in their bedrooms, but we are on the cusp of changing that as No 1 for example is getting older... Or at the table, when we eat. 9.00pm is the watershed. Everything is off.
Tanya Byron quoted something (when I last saw her at the Cheltenham Festival of Literature) that really resonated with me; she said that 'our' generation is the one of the 'technology immigrants'. We came to it, not always out of choice, as grown ups and therefore we tend to have a romantic view of the past, of how we grew up. Our kids? They're the technology natives. They know nothing else and removing that... is like throwing their lives upside down.
I kind of agreed with that. Being from another country and all that... I know what it is like to have the instinct of replicating they way things were when I was in Italy and a teenager. (Ask my children about my obsession with vests and coats... and then let's move swiftly on...)
Anyway, the reason I mention all this is because I came away from the talk with the names of a few websites I wished I had had a couple of years ago and that you might find interesting.
Or you might know of them already, because let's face it, I might have had a blog for years... but let's face it... Steve Jobs I'm not.
(Reviews on games and books and movies and apps. It's American, so sometimes their age classification is slightly different from ours here in the uk... but if you've ever been asked by your 12yr old to buy Grand Theft Auto... you might want to read the review first. Geesh, am I glad I always said no to that one!!)
This site is ran by the NSPCC and I think it's brilliant. Again lots of information, and the reviews are also done by children... which is very revealing.
This is another gem. It offers all sort of information on apps, on how to put control on every device, on the issues that internet can churn up at various ages. Very informative. My kids won't know what hit them!
Anyway, I'm not paranoid. I don't want you to become paranoid. Or remove all devices from your offsprings. It's their life after all... I guess the emphasis should be on opens and dialogue rather than 'blocking and forbidding'. (And not being a lazy parent, which is something we're all guilty of one time or another. No? Just me?... oh...)
I like that.
By the way... do you know what this plant is called? Of course you do... you lot know everything!