Parental responsibility

  Jak_1 17:03 07 Oct 2006

Yet again I read of a child suffering from internet usage! This time driven to attempted suicide by her peers!
When are parents going to accept responsibility for their childs internet use and monitor properly what they are doing.
I am fed up of hearing the old excuses of 'I don't understand computers' or Little Johnnie/Jane gets anoyed when I try to see what they are doing'. Get real, They are young and do need supervision and it is going to be a pain to parents to say that 'No you can't have a computer in your own room' or 'Yes I do want to know what you are doing when online'.
Is is not about time parents policed their childrens online activities themselves instead of demanding that the state do it for them.
I have heard all too often that 'I get a lot of hassle if I try to stop my child from privacy on the computer'.
Whatever happened to the word 'No'!

  Forum Editor 17:22 07 Oct 2006

Believe it or believe it not, but many parents really don't have much of an idea when it comes to the internet. I know, because I advise many parents about IT matters - not in their capacity as parents, but when they're at work, running their companies. many's the time I've been asked to make a visit to a client's house to 'sort out the kids' computers' or to teach the boss how to use Microsoft Word, at home, where his staff can't glimpse his lack of expertise.

When I make these visits I'm repeatedly surprised to discover how many children are using high-powered, well specified machines in their rooms, and how many parents just don't have the faintest clue about how it all works. They provide the children with broadband access, and although some of them make a token request that I "make sure they can't see the wrong kind of stuff", most of them don't even go that far - they assume that because all their childrens' friends have internet access, and the school has its own website, all must be well. They've heard of kids getting into trouble via the internet, but they're not sure how, and in any case, "it won't happen to my children, they're far too sensible."

Most of the time they're right of course - relatively few children come to any harm because of their use of the internet, and it's worth bearing that in mind. I'm not aware of the facts surrouinding the case you mention, but my gut feeling is that if a child is " driven to attempted suicide by her peers!" it's highly unlikely to have been just the internet that tipped her over the edge. It's far more likely to have been the peer-group pressure, and that can happen without the internet ever being involved.

It's easy to reach for the internet as being the culprit in such cases, but in reality it's rarely that simple. Of course there's internet content that is totally unsuitable for viewing by minors, and of course there's a need for parental influence, but let's be careful about a knee-jerk response. Anyone who has been the parent of an intelligent, spirited child with a highly-developed sense of independence will know that it isn't just a question of saying 'No' - you have to be prepared to provide a little more than that by way of a rationale.

The days of the master of the house ruling with a rod of iron, and "never mind why, you'll do as you're told" are long gone - thank goodness.

  Jak_1 17:41 07 Oct 2006

I take your point FE about not wanting to return to 'the rod of iron technique', but, a firm hand is still required by parents who find it all too easy to just let their children wander about the net willy nilly! Seems that the easy way for them is to just bow down to their childrens demands!

The newspaper article in question is this:

click here

I read the article in the printed version, a front page story.

  Cymro. 17:59 07 Oct 2006

My two kids have left home some 10 years ago. Things were difficult then, but then bringing up children was never easy. I dare say it is probably even more difficult now, but what can we do? Most of us parents just muddle through and manage as best we can. Most parents and their children come through it. But I dare say that there is an element of luck to it like most things in life. The Internet is just one of the extra risks to a child's wellbeing.

  Jak_1 18:07 07 Oct 2006

I hate to hear of kids and old folk being hurt by other members of society. Able boddied adults can look after themselves, with a few exceptions! But I firmly believe that it is the parents choice to have children and that being it is their responsibility for their wellbeing in all aspects of homelife etc.
No one said it was easy having kids but having got them then the responsibility lies firmly with the parents does it not!

  Forum Editor 18:08 07 Oct 2006

it's clear that this was a case of bullying, and that the girl in question knew her tormentors - they were from her school. The internet connection is that the tormenting was done via a website, but I'm quite sure that without internet access these people would have carried out the harrasment anyway. In addition to the website, they used text messaging and phone calls.

For me, the real message that emerges from incidents like this is the need for parents to try to maintain a communicative relationship with their children, so they're more likely to know when something's wrong - long before it gets totally out of hand.

I imagine the parents of this girl will be eternally grateful for one good samaritan. As the girl says, she was about to jump from a bridge when:-

"Some guy then started to talk to me. He asked if I loved anyone and what would they think if I did something stupid?"

That man should be in everyone's lifeboat.

  Jak_1 18:18 07 Oct 2006

I agree FE, this is where 'Parental responsibility' steps in'. Parents realising that something is wrong before it gets out of hands.
I don't advocate wrapping a child in cotton wool to shield them from the harsh realities of the real world but I do feel that parents could and should be more aware of just what their children are doing or not doing and take appropriate action before something goes wrong!

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