Devices keep danger close to home for kids these days
NO DOUBT there’s been the usual debate around Halloween activities, in particular trick-or-treating and the dangers associated with children roaming the streets on dusk asking for lollies.
But in my experience (a few years now of traipsing footpaths while dripping fake blood) it has never been anything more than fun among our neighbours.
The dangers for children now don’t lie in the dodgy house down on the corner, but on the devices that live in their bedrooms, opening them up to a global community.
In my house, our TV is connected to the internet and three out of four bedrooms have a device where kids can communicate with people outside the family home.
I police their use vigilantly. Being subjected to the court stories from around Australia and the world, I know perhaps too well the dangers that exist.
I see how little is done in the judicial system to protect minors and I can only imagine how difficult it is to police people in a virtual world.
I never considered that I’d be a parent who conducted random searches, but I am that person now ... taking their tablets to check what apps have been installed, who they’ve engaged in conversation and, more importantly, how they conduct their behaviour online.
So far, so good.
But I often feel I’m fighting a losing battle.
No sooner have I made their accounts private than they’ve made them public again — purely so they can share their creations with the world and garner “likes”.
And what grounds do I, a columnist, have to tell them they shouldn’t share their life with the world?
It’s a tightrope to walk between encouraging their desire to create and share art with an audience, and protecting them from the nastiness that the comments thread is renowned for.
So, we talk ... we talk about the vulnerability of sharing, the potential for danger, the possible opportunities, the likes, the phonies.
I don’t share with them the despicable things I read every day, because it’s hard for me to stomach that as an adult, let alone a child who believes the “problem with Halloween” is being given boiled lollies.
Peta Jo is an author and mother of three.