Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Holding A Child's Hand

Having grown up in a very liberal household where there were limited rules and fewer restrictions, I have no first-person experience being kept on a tight leash by my parents. I would have no doubt rebelled had they tried to impose their will on me and learned to evade detection if I was monitored and controlled. Now that I am a parent myself raising a child in a far more complex world than what I grew up in, it is my turn to figure out what if any rules would apply for J.

I cringe at the thought of remote controlling kids as this iApp allows parents to do. This can only degenerate into a cat and mouse game with kids being one step ahead at all times given their greater familiarity and comfort level with new technology. The parent is effectively letting them know that they do not trust them and that sentiment is fully reciprocal. Besides, it is impossible to love when there is no trust. There is no easier or more effective way to strain (often to the point of complete breakdown) the parent-child relationship.

When I got J a laptop last summer, I wondered if I should have parental controls installed as my most of my friends with kids do. They reason it is the easiest way to keep kids safe and I don't disagree. But with any cyber-nanny service there is the ability to monitor and block access remotely and that I find onerous from a child's perspective - I know for a fact that I would have resented if it was done to me when I was a child.

In the end, I decided not to filter or monitor J's access - several moms warned me that I would regret my decision someday and by then it would be too late. I explained to J that wandering around the web without adult guidance is the cyberspace equivalent of crossing the road without looking on both sides and therefore being at a very high risk of being run over by a passing car. It is just not a very smart thing to do. She is welcome to explore and learn to navigate her way around the web but I would like to be around so I can make sure she does not get into trouble.

At six years old, it was not very hard to get this message across to J. At twelve I am guessing it would have been next to impossible.Since she holds my hand when we cross a busy intersection, she does not find it hard to accept me as her guide around the Internet. So far it has worked out well. She enjoys a sense of freedom that few if any of her friends do and yet she feels safe. It takes me more time, effort and direct involvement with J during her time on-line than it might have had with a cyber-nanny service to keep her out of trouble but it is time I am glad to spend in the interest of fostering a relationship of trust with J.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shobaa De in one of her interviews said " Overcommunicating is better than undercommunicating ".

I could not agree more.So in an imperceptible way transfer whatever wisdom you have gathered from life.And ofcourse , pray to God. Which is what I do.