A dangerous playground

Michelle
Michelle Stewart
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It wasn’t so long ago parents’ most common worry over their teenagers was having them out ‘beating the paths’ until the later hours of the night or early morning hours. Worrying perhaps if the teen may be drinking or hanging out with someone older or a troublesome type, those were (for the most part) the general scope of worries less than two-decades ago.

It wasn’t so long ago parents’ most common worry over their teenagers was having them out ‘beating the paths’ until the later hours of the night or early morning hours. Worrying perhaps if the teen may be drinking or hanging out with someone older or a troublesome type, those were (for the most part) the general scope of worries less than two-decades ago.

And, these were the same days that when teenagers finally came in for the night, the doors were locked and the home became a safe haven for all who resided under the roof.

But not anymore, because within the home the world’s dangers can lurk right in the same room with so many kids and teens thanks to the widespread use of the Internet, which is probably the greatest tool and worse weapon ever known to man.

While the Information Highway has allowed for great conveniences—such as in the workplace, great educational aid for students and teachers and a blessing for many researchers—it also has a dark, ugly side that has been providing a playground for those who make most of us cringe: perverts, terrorists, bullies and just downright corrupt and dangerous excuses for human beings.

The RNC’s Child Exploitation Unit in St. John’s is reporting a rise in Internet luring complaints of young girls between ages 12-16 engaged in risky behaviour. We don’t have to just take the RNC’s word for it because it’s a growing problem and hase been publicized many times. It is a global problem with pretty dangerous happenings taking root on social networking sites and random chat sites. As technology keeps growing, so does this problem and it has now gone beyond the computer on to cell phones and iphones where the Internet has found itself.

It’s amazing how some parents will worry themselves in to a frenzy if their child is out an hour past curfew—many will phone around looking or go out and drive the streets to make sure their teens are safe—it’s a reaction from caring responsible parents.

Yet, it seems for many, that same worry doesn’t carry the same impact when it comes to those same teens being held up in a bedroom with a computer, or sitting in their own living room (oblivious to all that is around them) frantically texting on a cell phone.

When a kid is sitting on a computer, he/she is on a playground of a much greater scope; the dangers are countless, huge and scarier than falling off any monkey bar.

How old should a child be before left to his/her own devices on a computer? How old should a child be before he/she should be allowed to own a cell phone? There would be a great variance in the answers for sure.

When teens are using computers, maybe having it in a common area, rec/living room is a safe rule to adopt—there’s not a lot of logic in allowing a 12 or 13 year-olds to have a computer in their bedrooms equipped with webcams and whatever at their disposal and a door locked (for privacy privileges).

Responsible parents have always checked out the playgrounds their children play on, and until they are older, parents accompany their kids to these playgrounds or assign the task to a responsible adult.

When a kid is sitting on a computer, he/she is on a playground of a much greater scope; the dangers are countless, huge and scarier than falling off any monkey bar. No one should take for granted that just because they are home in their own houses, children/teens are safe.

It’s not that it’s a hard thing to control, it’s just it’s a very easy thing that can slip by parents if they are not cognizant of the potential dangers.

The 12 or 13-year-old with the cell phone in his/her pocket, or the kids tucked away in their bedroom with their laptops are not the mark of parents’ generousity and overindulgence when it comes to their child, it’s too often the mark of parents who should probably be thinking long and hard of what they are putting in their kids’ hands. No many parents want such toys to be the tool some pervert uses to get his/her hands on their child.

Monitoring computer usage is not a sign of distrust towards the child, it’s a sign of a loving and caring parent making sure the one’s not to be trusted are not accessing your child through this method—a method that is usually provided by a loving parent. It’s worth getting worried over.

 

mstewart@theaurora.ca

 

 

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