here's another wake-up call.
message from the kids is clear: They need more
survey conducted by the Parents Advisory Group for the Internet
reveals that while 81 per cent of parents trust their children
to behave responsibly online, only 46 per cent of the children
feel the same way about themselves.
the survey does reveal that parents are more aware of -
and concerned about - Internet dangers than their children.
they're also more likely, it seems, to give their youngsters
the benefit of the doubt.
a laudable example of an enlightened, light-touch approach
to parenting, certainly.
the message from the kids is clear: They need more help.
confidence gap between parents and children is somewhat
surprising and of some concern.
some studies suggest that nearly half of all youngsters
have accessed porn or been propositioned online.
the more prurient dangers of the Internet are relatively
easy to identify.
youngsters could well be asking for adult guidance on subtler
issues - what to do when confronted with a hate site, how
to deal with the disturbing images on rotten.com, where
to draw the line between a friendly chat and a risky proposition.
youngsters could well be asking for adult guidance
on subtler issues
complicated by the fact that children are often given freer
access to the Net in their teens, a time when adolescent
changes can add to the confusion.
this: PAGi's survey reveals that teens between 13 and 15
years old were the least concerned about the dangers of
may have an inferior grasp of the technology, compared to
their wired kids, but the ethical issues and psychological
impact of the Web go beyond technical expertise.
all, cyberspace is, by and large, an adult world.
it's a realm in which our children - to their credit - feel
rather out of their depth.
solution: Nothing short of old-fashioned, roll-up-your-sleeves
of leaving kids to their own devices or, in the care of
a filtering software like NetNanny, parents should treat
the Internet as their children's first exposure to the adult
should be on hand to discuss difficult issues arising from
their kids' surfing experiences and take a healthy interest
in their childrens' hobbies and pursuits.
they should be prepared to deal with hardcore themes like
sex, death and religion much sooner than they'd expect to.
heartening implication of PAGi's survey: If children feel
ill-equipped to manage their own online behaviour, it's
also because they want to learn HOW to be responsible, and
not be sheltered from the harsh reality of cyberspace.
parents' trust in their kids is not misplaced.
policing of kids in cyberspace, or preventing them from
logging on, would be counter-productive. But, as the survey
rightly suggests, complacency is not an option.
where PAGi can step up.
advisory body has done a commendable job in raising public
awareness of cyberspace hazards and helping parents get
savvy with the Net.
so far, they've only gone to the extent of offering ''best
practices'' in online safety and organising forums.
that the alarms have been sounded about the pitfalls of
the Internet, it's not enough to expect parents to manage
on their own.
PAGi is still the public body that's best placed to offer
could be done to equip both parents and children with the
concrete skills they'd need to cope in a more wired world.
should move beyond basic tech courses, helpful tips and
broad recommendations to imparting core skills: Teaching
parents to open up channels of communication with kids,
or illuminating common concerns which youngsters might be
embarrassed or hesitant to talk to their parents about.
about a hotline, or hands-on workshops where concerned parents
can get help in counselling their kids on the hazards and
bewildering ethical morass of cyberspace?
PAGi could consider developing a Net-savvy curriculum for
parenting in the digital age.
could offer professional assistance to families who feel
they are unable to deal with Net-related issues, or help
Internet Service Providers fine-tune their Family Access
anything, PAGi's survey has shown that it's not enough to
leave parents and kids to their own devices.
intervention at this juncture could secure the next generation's
confidence and comfort level in dealing with the Internet
could even enhance the quality and efficacy of modern parenting.
no better time for PAGi to move from Advice to Action.