Raising Kids in the Instant Information Age; What do you do?
Parenting & Tech

Raising Kids in the Instant Information Age

 Raising Kids in the Instant Information Age 1

Raising Kids in the Instant Information Age

Yesterday morning, while cooking eggs for breakfast, my youngest walked in with an odd expression on her face. It looked to me as though she had seen a ghost, and it turned out I wasn’t too far off. She had been on YouTube and had managed to watch a video that featured footage of a young man that had taken his life by hanging. Now my daughter is 10; she had never seen anything like that, and it had shaken her. She didn’t set out with the intention of watching death videos, she didn't know those even existed. She was simply surfing the popular and trending videos on YouTube. Welcome to raising kids in the instant information age.

I did what any halfway ok parent would do. I sat her down and talked her through her feelings. I explained what she had seen and answered all of her questions. I held her when she cried for the man in the video. And I let her know that she did nothing wrong. The experience gave me pause however. I found myself thinking about what had happened.. what she had seen…for the rest of the day. Had I done my part? How did she access the video without me knowing? Am I failing my kids when it comes to the online world?  Raising kids in the instant information age is tough, so what do you do?

Raising Kids in the Instant Information Age 3

What to Do?

In the end, I came to a couple of conclusions.

First, I had done what I could to keep her safe. The parental controls are up and active for our WiFi network. We have talked at length about online safety. I monitor what they are watching. But the cold truth of it is this; we can’t be at our kids shoulders 24/7. We can be proactive and involved, but we can’t be all knowing, and we can’t shield our children from every disturbing link on the internet.

We are now raising kids in what I think of as the instant information age. Virtually any fact, picture, story, or subject can be found online in seconds on a staggering number of devices. It is impossible to shield a child from every link. Parental controls are good, but they are not perfect. Things can and do get through. And what about when your kid picks up a phone with a cell signal? All of those WiFi restrictions become useless. How about when a kid picks up a friends device? What sort of controls were set up on that machine? I don’t know. I can’t know.

Our kids are connected to this information at a very early age. Kindergartners use computers in school. Tests, assessments, and homework are online. Everything is now connected. Never before have parents had to deal with this particular challenge…the challenge of too much available. So how do you combat that?

Well, for me at least, I decided I can’t. It is a fight that I do not believe I can win; not by trying to control the information. Instead, I chose to talk to my kids about it. I let them know about my fears. I told them that my goal was not to cut them off from information. No. My goal was to make sure they were ready to consume the information….I needed to know that they understood what they were seeing or reading, and that they were ready for the material in terms of maturity.

Most importantly though, I let them know that I was someone they could come to when they came across something that bothered them. There are some very dark things on the internet, and a countless number of sites that aggregate that data. It is inevitable that a kid will click a link at some point that takes them to a dark place. So I made damn sure that my kids knew that I was there for them when that happened.  I let them know they would not be in trouble. Anyone can click a link, and it’s not always obvious what is on the other end. I learned this lesson with the 10 year old.

When she saw the suicide video, it impacted her tremendously. She instinctively knew she shouldn’t have seen it….and she was afraid to say anything because she thought she would be in trouble. Well she wasn’t, and I had to make it very clear to each of my kids that I would not get mad over a clicked link. I’d much rather help them work through any thoughts or feelings they may have thanks to what they saw, because in the end, I cannot protect them from everything.

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So how do you handle raising kids in the instant information age? I’d love to hear your comments and suggestions.

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26 Comments Leave a Comment »

  1. Sarah

    You are right, we can’t protect our children from everything. Constant communication is the trick. Nice post.

  2. Claudia Krusch

    I can not imagine having a little one with access to the internet. My Son is older and I did not have the internet when he was little. I would definitely look at some of the great safety programs out there.

  3. I am amazed how loose parents are with their kids on gadgets. My kids really do not know how to use the internet which is good because there can be so much junk that I do not want them to see however, I do think they need to be educated and parents should definitely keep track of what they are doing.

  4. Kathy

    This is a great post. I think it’s important to try to keep kids away from gadgets at times. I try to limit them with my kids. The internet is good for certain work, but I’d hate for kids to get into anything they shouldn’t.

  5. Not just cellular data – all of the kids around here already know how to use VPN’s to get around the school’s filters. It’s a battle we just cannot win!

  6. There really isn’t a way to protect them 100% but communication is key. I hope I can teach my kids to be responsible with all the info coming at them.

  7. Allison

    What a scary thing for her to experience! My son is 9 and glued to YouTube more than any other form of entertainment and I definitely need to be more cautious of what he’s watching. 

  8. These are scary times. Times have changed so much that we need to keep a close eye on what our kids are watching online. Communication plays a huge part. m

  9. THIS is spot on parenting! It’s so scary what kids can run into online and all the parental controls and platform restrictions will not shield them. We have to arm them with education on when to turn away. This goes for life in general.

  10. You’re absolutely right about this. We cannot watch over them all the time and at some point they’re going to come across something like this video that your daughter did and it will shake them to the core. I think it’s important that we let them know that we’re here for them especially during those times.

  11. I think you did an amazing job and I love that you talked to them about the things that they can encounter online and that if they find something they cannot handle, you’re there to listen and help them go through it all. That’s really what they need to hear.

  12. Pam

    I think you dealt with that very well. I’m glad your daughter felt like she could come to you about it, even if she was hesitant at first.

  13. You definitely did the right thing, Letting her know that you are always there and keeping the lines of communication open is the best that we can do in this ever growing digital age.

  14. My 7yo just asked me when she would be old enough to have an IG account.


    I’m just not ready!!!!

  15. OMG! I can’t imagine! Your poor daughter. I agree with you! We can’t protect our kids 100% of the time. Talking them through it, encouraging them to make good choices and showing them how to properly use technology is all you can do.

  16. It’s funny, when I’m out to dinner or shopping, I see these young kids, about 7 years old and older, on their mom or dad’s cell phones! It’s crazy how tech we’ve become!

  17. It is so hard to keep track of all these electronics, social media, etc. My daughter did not see the video, but all the kids in 5th grade have been talking about it, so they all know about it anyway. There are so many situations that we have to deal with as they come up in the age of technology.

  18. I don’t have kids but I can’t even imagine raising kids in this day and age. Growing up in the 90’s was tough but I can’t imagine having to deal with social media and all of these bully kids. 

  19. It is so different to raise kids in this day and age that is for sure. There are many different things to worry about now in this age of tech!

  20. It has its challenges, that is for sure. It is very different from how I was raised.

  21. What an interesting time to raise kids. Who would have thought that information like this would be so available. It is definitely handy sometimes, but has its issues.

  22. Kids having access to all this information can be scary. I am glad to see that some people really treat it seriously.

  23. My son is now 14 so we already allowed him to have an iPad and a cellphone. The good thing about him is he opens up to us about what he sees and hears and that’s why we have trusted him with regards to using the internet.

  24. Oh gosh I can’t even imagine. I think you’re doing all you can. When I was a teacher, we taught all the skills we could but in reality, I think it’s especially the communication with parents and kids that really matters.

  25. It’s hard to keep track what our kids see on the internet. It’s really scary how these horrible things can be accessed by our kids. Communication and guidance are what they need. I think you’re doing everything you can.

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