Elllery’s response to:
10 things you don’t know about teens and social networking
Finally! An author who understands that secretly monitoring kids’ online activities doesn’t work. More importantly, it has unintended effects. Spying on your kids is not the answer. It is neither a substitute for active engagement (aka, parenting) nor does it buttress the effective approach: Leading by example and open discussion. In short, as with any issue, there is no substitute for parental involvement along with a growing bond of trust.
The online culture will not go away. In fact, it will become more pervasive as new gadgets and unexpected venues are attached to the internet. Culture will continue to evolve along with the medium, such as the spawning of social networks.
One teenager stated that the online world is more relevant to her than the “real” world. As scary as this sounds to parents, it isn’t necessary a bad thing. The online world is real. With nurturing and a little guidance, it may even help her to overcome obstacles in her immediate vicinity (health, bullies, career opportunity, etc).
Another child says that she feels safer online than offline, and she does things online that I she would not do in real life. Considered one way, this might be cause for alarm. Does this mean that she is likely to engage in risky behavior? Perhaps. But, it could simply mean that she is a “risk taker” in the vein of exploring her alternate personas and even confronting her inner demons. For her, the virtual world might allow her to develop as an individual in all venues.
The rise of a new social medium – one with a value that eludes many parents – is not bad. In general, it needn’t be cause for concern (Exception: a child who lies to her Mom about spending time online while avoiding homework!). Addiction to anything—not just the internet—is a weakness that is countered by parenting and strength.
Ellery Davies is chief editor of AWildDuck.com. He clarifies law and public policy. He is also a parent of a preteen who is uses social networks. Reader Feedback is always welcome.