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Kids and Internet Access

by Hauwa Datti-GarbaSeptember 22, 2014

Being a parent is hard work. Not just in the physical sense. Emotionally. Intellectually. We often fret over the effects of our decisions….too harsh or not harsh enough? Too careful or not careful enough? Too emotional or not emotional enough? It is endless and one can only pray and hope one succeeds in bringing up well-rounded kids.

There are so many issues to contend with but there is one aspect of giving in to kids I have a serious problem with…not censoring their access to communication devices like phones and the internet. From the age of seven, my son has campaigned tirelessly for a mobile phone. Of course the answer has been no. We have a deal to sit and have a discussion on his readiness when he becomes a teenager. Of course he doesn’t quite agree with me but there’s not much he can do about it. His supporting argument is a friend of his, a year older, got his 1st phone at the age of seven.

What on earth will a seven-year-old child need a phone for? I raised my doubts to the mother of this kid who said it was the father who insisted and she didn’t have a say in it. Right. Seriously. I kept any further reservations to myself and hoped it wouldn’t come to bite them.

Couple of months ago, I got a new follower on Instagram who bore his name. Out of curiosity, I clicked on the name and lo and behold, it was this young boy, age 11. I was shocked to say the least. A quick look at his unlocked account didn’t raise any flags and I made a mental note to call up the Mum to ask if she was aware. Unfortunately, I totally forgot to do so.

One night, I noticed he had liked a post of mine on which prompted me to check out his account and activity. His posts were harmless, a few selfies and kid stuff. As I was leaving his profile, something prompted me to look at the accounts liking his posts. Why? For the simple reason that I know we are often curious to check out the profiles of some of the people who either follow us or like our posts.  Goodness! My heart skipped a few beats. Amongst his constant “likers” were two accounts with rather disturbing profile pictures. Pictures of grown men kissing. The shock!

I checked out the accounts and was full of dismay. I so wish I wasn’t proven right in not agreeing with her decision. I went to bed sad and upset. I spoke to the Mum the next day. Didn’t mention what I had seen; only asking if she knew her son was on Instagram. She had absolutely no idea. She was actually confused, asking if I was sure it was her son. She started complaining about how she had to seize his older sister’s smart phone and iPad because she wasn’t comfortable about certain things. Didn’t ask what, didn’t even want to know. She thanked me and said she was going to talk to him immediately she got home.

I hope I have helped them avert some dangers and sincerely pray no harm has already been done. I for one feel even better about my decision. My son can use my Wi-Fi when I’m there for work and to browse some child friendly sites but to allow him unfettered access? Not on my/his life.

Please be vigilante, be careful, and watchful. Above all, talk to your kids.

 

 

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Hauwa Datti-Garba
Travel and Food enthusiast, Interior Designer, book devourer, night lover, ex migraine bearer, some say a gadget addict, forgetful Jane.
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