Respecting Your Child’s Privacy While Protecting Them from Online Dangers

Trust is one of the most universal components of modern society. Trust can permit someone a driver’s license, trust can build a relationship, and trust can end a war. Where trust matters most to the everyday person however, is in their personal lives. The expectation in society is that as a kid grows from a child to an adolescent that the amount of trust within the relationship will grow with it. This begs the question though, how far should this trust stretch? In the age of technology, it is becoming increasingly difficult for parents to accept that they cannot control everything that their children do online. In an effort to take back that control, many say that monitoring kid’s phones is the best way to protect them. The underdeveloped state of a child’s brain, the potential for internet addiction, and the constant dangers of online and texting mistakes are reasons why some monitoring of a minor’s use of their phone is necessary.

On the most fundamental level, the brain of a child or teenage is still maturing. Their ability to think critically about a situation and make a good decision quickly is lacking and it can lead to devastating results. During these critical years of a young person’s life, their brain is creating more and more grey matter which is used to process information. Through experiences and learning, the grey matter will thicken and the child will learn to make logical decisions faster.

An example of this inadequate thinking ability could be seen in 2014 when a young girl was kidnapped on her way to school because of unsupervised usage of a messaging application on her phone. When twelve-year-old, “Jane Doe”, never made it to school one morning, her mother was quick to call for a search party. During the investigation, the detectives found that the child and her suspected abductor had been chatting for a while on the “Kik” application, a social media platform. Which, in a conversation with another person, Jane Doe says she couldn’t tell her mother about her scary conversations with her future abductor because “[She was] not supposed to have [Kik] so [she] would get in big trouble”. While in captivity, this girl reflected on how she had learned her lesson of using apps like that without her parents’ consent. Being so young, Ms. Doe did not think about the possible consequences in time to avoid this tragic event. Had her mother been active in monitoring her phone, Jane could have reduced the probability of harm from occurring.

Coinciding with the developing brain of a child is the higher risk for addiction. Not only has this been seen with drugs and dangerous substances, but also with technology and the internet. Children, teens especially, are at the greatest risk for addiction and research shows that the earlier a person begins to use an addictive substance, the more likely he or she is to develop serious problems. As much as a brain or apathy can be blamed for this problem, much of the problem can be attributed to the intent of app creators. From the design of the logo to the function of the app itself; creators of such apps intend it to be addictive. According to Tristan Harris, an Ex-Google Employee, smartphone applications are made to be similar to slot machines. “When we pull our phone out of our pocket, we’re playing a slot machine to see what notifications we got. When we pull to refresh our email, we’re playing a slot machine to see what new email we got. When we swipe down our finger to scroll the Instagram feed, we’re playing a slot machine to see what photo comes next”.

Allowing children to spend more than two hours every day in constant connection with the internet can lead to unfavorable psychological effects. Many studies have reported associations between Internet addiction and psychiatric symptoms, such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-efficacy, etc. among adolescents. It is less likely that you will see children playing kickball in the front yard and more likely that they will be killing enemies in Call of Duty, a popular first person shooter game. Along with monitoring what they do on their cell phones or online and controlling the amount of time they are on them can increase their chances at a happier and healthier life.

The purpose of keeping an eye on a child’s online and personal interactions is to protect them and should be done with their complete knowledge. To make all rules and provisions clear, many families have turned to the idea of a technology contract. These lay out specific guidelines that often provide reasonable expectations for both the child and the parent. By placing limits and rules for both parties, it will make the younger party feel more responsible and in control, which often leads to better decision making. The monitoring of a child’s phone and online activity should be implemented but with reasonable limitations and respect for their privacy.

 

Real Reading, Real Kids: The Who, What, and Why

By Susan Straub, Rachel Payne and KJ Dell’Anotonia

reading-on-the-porchReal reading, with real children, is rarely a picture-perfect process. Even a baby who loves to be read to isn’t going to curl up in your lap every time. Toddlers tear books. Twos throw them. Trying out an ebook or app? She’s all over every button or swipe of the screen, including those that shut the whole thing down or email your boss.

You may think books are for reading. Your baby sees that books are almost infinitely useful for playing peek-a-boo, experimenting with Newton’s Law of Gravity, and forming a bridge to allow the giraffe to walk into the plastic barn door.

It seems as if there’s an enormous gulf between what the two of you are trying to achieve: you’re trying to get to the end of Harold and the Purple Crayon, and your baby is trying to taste the book cover. You want to read; she wants to experience. Her experience, though, is really akin to your reading. She’s learning about the book: as an individual book, a part of a larger set of books, as a hard object, a soft object, a paper object, and, finally, something that causes you to make a given set of sounds.

Whether she’s mouthing Harold’s cover or using him for a hat, she’s happy. Isn’t that what you really want—creativity, experimentation, imaginative play, talking and laughing and doing something together? Let go of the goal and savor the experience. You probably already know how it ends, anyway.

The Classics

Twenty-five Picture Books for Every Child’s Library

These are great books—books you’ll find in every library, every preschool, every bookstore. You’ve probably heard of many of them; some you may remember from your own childhood and some you may read to your grandchildren someday.

1.     Blueberries for Sal, Robert McCloskey. This simply illustrated glimpse of the past resonates with any child who’s lost sight of Mom as Sal does during blueberry picking.

2.     Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? Bill Martin Jr., Eric Carle (illus.). Many kids can “read” Martin’s predictable and comforting text before they even learn their letters.  Carle’s simple animal collages are iconic.

3.     Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys, and Their Monkey Business, Esphyr Slobodkina.  A wonderful, timeless tale of copying and cleverness.

4.     Carrot Seed.  Ruth Krauss, Crocket Johnson (illus.).  For more than half a century, this beanie-sporting boy has had faith that his carrot would grow, despite his family’s doubt.

5.     Chicka, Chicka Boom Boom,  Bill Martin Jr., John Archambault, Lois Ehlert (illus.).  In arguably one of the most memorable and playful alphabet books ever, lower case letters and their parents, the capital letters, cavort up and down a coconut tree.

6.     Clifford the Big Red Dog, Norman Bridwell. Yes, it’s a television series; yes, it’s a franchise…but the original books are really good and perfect for babies and toddlers. Big, red dog. Need we say more?

7.     Corduroy, Don Freeman. A lovely story of a little girl’s kindness and empathy for a teddy bear who needs a home, with realistic illustrations.

8.     Curious George, H. A. Rey. The story of the little monkey, so like a toddler in his curiosity and impulsiveness but so much more capable, is one kids love. You’ll probably notice now that George’s removal from the jungle isn’t the most politically correct thing ever written, but your child won’t mind.

9.     Freight Train, Donald Crews.   This multicolored train has been crossing trestles, going by cities, and going through tunnels for over thirty years.  Now there is an app that was created with Crews’ input.

10.  George and Martha, James Marshall. The hippos have an admirable friendship, so real that it’s full of pranks, hurt feelings, and make-ups. Marshall produced tons more brief stories about them, but this is the first. Arguably the story “Split Pea Soup” is a legend all by itself. Fun for the whole family.

11.  Go, Dog. Go!, P. D. Eastman. Simple books meant for beginning readers can make great books for beginning talkers.

12.  Goodnight Moon, Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd (illus.). The old-fashioned setting, the simple rhymes, and the cozy illustrations make this a nighttime must read for many toddlers.

13.  Guess How Much I Love You, Sam McBratney, Anita Jeram (illus.). Big Nutbrown Hare can one-up Baby Nutbrown Hare’s declarations of love every time, but this baby doesn’t give up.

14.  Harold and the Purple Crayon, Crockett Johnson. You may remember Harold, but you probably didn’t think of him as a book for babies. In fact, he works very well—simple illustrations and many moons.

15.  Harry the Dirty Dog, Gene Zion, Margaret Bloy Graham (illus.). Harry needs a bath—and after he’s run away from one, he gets so dirty his family doesn’t recognize him. His ultimate return and his family’s recognition make for a very satisfying resolution.

16.  Hop on Pop, Dr. Seuss. A wonderful introduction to rhyme.

17.  The Little Engine That Could, Watty Piper. This tale still resonates, and always will. The original illustrations are fun, and if the words (definitely a little on the sweet and cloying side) begin to get to you, you can always edit a bit.

18.  The Little House, Virginia Lee Burton. Most of us remember the poignant illustrations in this story of a little house in the country that becomes surrounded by city before sympathetic owners move it to the country again.

19.  Pat the Bunny, Dorothy Kunhardt. The mother of all interactive baby books.

20.  The Napping House, Audrey and Don Wood.  In this fun, cumulative tale, a nap goes awry due to the antics of a “wakeful” flea.

21.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle. Kids love putting their fingers through the holes and pulling the pages to watch the hungry caterpillar eat his way through an uncomfortable assortment of food.

22.  We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen, Helen Oxenbury (illus.).  A family, a journey, a bear, and lots of great sound effects from Rosen and lively watercolors from Oxenbury make this read aloud irresistible.

23.  Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak. Sent to his room for being a wild thing, Max travels to the forest and conquers even wilder things before realizing that home is best.

24.  Where’s Spot? Eric Hill. Plump, yellow Spot and his wonder at discovering the world around him have spoken to children for decades.  Also available as ¿Dónde está Spot? in Spanish, and in many other languages.

25.  Whistle for Willie, Ezra Jack Keats. A whistle will call Willie the dog, but Peter can’t whistle until practice finally pays off.  Refreshingly warm collage illustrations.

Excerpted from: cid:image004.gif@01CE4C07.68260FD0Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos: A Guide to Laughing, Learning & Growing Together Through Books (Sourcebooks; ISBN: 978-1-4022-7816-7; Parenting; April 2013; $14.99 U.S.; paperback)