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.


Perils of Distracted Parenting

By Will D. Rhame, author of The Voyagers Series, the first books of their kind!

ipad_and_iphoneThe time adults spend with their mobile devices might be affecting the way children learn language. Since the technology hasn’t been ubiquitous for long, research on this question is scarce. But other research on the effects of adult-child conversation makes a strong case for putting cellphones away when you’re around children.

Is technology distracting parents from teaching their children? Or distracting from children from learning?

Technology is both distracting parents and children from learning specific things. On one hand, technology has opened a whole new era of unparalleled learning of techno-gadgets, games, computers, social media and much more. On the other hand, this new and ever increasing world of apps, games, communications and computers have taken the place of parent/child bonding and the essential necessity of learning to read. Once a child learns to speak most working parents succumb to offering additional techno-gadgets to satisfy the child’s need for companionship, which to some extent alienates the child from the parent.

Many of the apps and computer games have become addictive by the user and act similar to a drug. Studies have been conducted that have shown the addictive affects these computer related games have had on children, and for those parents that have a computer at home, ask yourself how much time you spend on it compared to nurturing your child.

The statistics are scary. In the United States, now a dual income society many parents take their jobs home with them in the form of a laptop and continue their work at home thereby taking the precious time of parent/child bonding away if not completely then to a large extent. The addiction of computers is not just an adult thing it is a child problem as well.

What kind of research has been done on the effects of adult-child conversation?

A number of studies have been performed regarding the effects of child fun reading and essential reading. But surprisingly the research conducted regarding the effects of child/parent conversations has overwhelmingly found that this basic family interaction is crucial and yet becoming less and less in the parent/child household. Humans by nature are social and if a child does not get proper companionship at home they will seek it out wherever and whenever the opportunity avails itself. This is an ever increasing problem that has proven negative affects due to our dual income society. The United States has become a workaholic society and is following the path of Japan which research has shown to be one of the most unhappy societies in the world. Proper adult/child conversation is critical for children on many levels. These levels include bonding, learning, psychological happiness, well-adjusted and more capable of handling outside influences. Aware parents that recognize the need of child interaction naturally create an atmosphere of constant open communications. However, many parents are unaware of the needs of their children regarding inter-personal communications and think techno-gadgets provide a good alternative to interpersonal child/parent conversations. This is a growing and disastrous trend.

Is social interaction crucial to early learning in children?

Mountains of studies have been conducted regarding the crucial need of proper parent/child interaction. Without this interaction a child is left to their own devices to fulfill this critical need. They will seek interaction with peers and in many cases their peers are also parent interaction deprived. Therefore, children many times copy what they see on television. Hollywood becomes their role-model and this can lead to all kinds of disastrous outcomes. Proper social interaction is crucial in a child’s development. Parents provide stories, education, experiences and the ever needed bonding. Who does a child look up to if not their parents?

Can adult-child social interaction be replaced with technology? Will the results be the same?

There is NO substitute for proper parent/child interaction. Technology will never leave us and if used correctly is critical to understand and utilize on a global basis. There so many benefits to technology, but beware that is will never replace the parent/child interaction and bond process. Proper parent/child bonding is the key to well-adjusted children.

Children can make appropriate decisions with the confidence of parent backing, and in most cases follow a road of proper society production and long-term prosperity and happiness.