Fellow Parents: Time To Review Our Kids’ Online Activity [OPINION]
I thought I had our parental controls on lock, so to speak. I was wrong.
I'd like to consider myself a pretty hip, digital parent. At age 39, I found out that I'm part of the xennial generation - I grew up with some technology, and I've learned how to use it in my everyday life, so I'm not as "in the dark" as some baby boomers or members of generation X.
Plus, I work in an industry that has transformed into digital media, which basically means that I'm on the cutting edge of most electronic trends.
But, even all of that can't outwit a 10-year-old boy who's hipper than me online.
Yesterday, our son asked if he could use a site called Omegle. It's basically a newer version of Chat Roulette. He asked AJ, and told her that I said it was okay (I obviously wasn't around for this conversation). So, she said yes. She also admits that she should've done some research on the site, but because I (allegedly) said it was okay, she thought it was safe.
Less than five minutes later, our son came downstairs and said that somebody asked him how old he is, and that's when he logged off. He had an innocent prank in mind - he wanted to surprise people by being dressed up as Kylo Ren on the camera.
Unfortunately, there's a lot of unsavory people out there who have different motives. He apologized profusely, and that's when AJ and I realized that the site had gotten past the parental controls we had set up. We reset everything and blocked the site, and sat down to talk with him about it. He was very receptive, but we both felt like we had failed as parents.
The point is - it never hurts to do a quick check of what our children are doing online. This is the first time we've found something inappropriate in his history (aside from the time that he googled "man grilling naked in woods" because he saw it on a cartoon...and boob pics popped up - innocent enough), but it also slipped past the parental controls. Lord knows what kind of creeps could've found him on there.
Kids have to learn from their mistakes, which goes against being a helicopter parent. But, while we still can, let's try to protect our kids. Even if you've got parental controls set up, they can be manipulated. It never hurts to check and double-check.