One of the latest memes floating around the internet, is the “hi im millie, im 10 and I love everything” meme. Below is an example of the meme from anongallery.org (a site that people can anonymously post memes and other internet works):
If you’re a parent, you should be horrified. If you’re not a parent, you should be terrified for the future since these children will one day be running your country on top of running your McDonalds. Millie here is just one example of the horrors that young children get into on the internet. On top of obvious flaws in this post, this will also haunt Millie for the rest of her life. She will forever be the girl who loves everything and is “not afreid” just like the young lady who's father shot her computer will always be that young lady.
These are just some of the latest examples and they aren’t the worse thing that can happen to a child. Any child using a public instant message account can get messages asking indecent questions and most websites with adult content only ask if some one is 18 or not. They don’t use anything but a person’s word. In this world full of indecency on television (even children’s television it seems) and in public (children’s fashions are even becoming sexualized), the internet is the worst of it. So what can parents do to help their children avoid these mistakes and be children for a little bit longer? Here are just a few small possibilities.
- Keep Tabs on Time Spent Online: The less time spent online, the less shenanigans can happen. Now, students need time for school work and honestly, time for some relaxation like the rest of us, but how many 10 year olds need more than an hour of that? Especially when they have video games, books, toys, homework, cellphones, etc.
- Put the Web Browser in Safety Mode: Most browsers let you put up a child safety browser, like Metasurf, which is specifically built to help protect children from porn and the like. If a site that should be safe cannot be access by your child, like the Girl Scout website (this often gets accidentally blocked because it talks about puberty), let the child go on it from your account and keep an eye on them while they do.
- Create a Separate Computer Account for Them: It takes a bit of computer space up, but it also helps you set up administrative controls over their computer account. The benefits range from keeping your own things private (and from being accidentally deleted by tiny hands) to controlling what they download to limiting what they have access to, from internet to applications. A person can set it up so that only the administrative account, which should be yours, can make changes. This can be helpful in keeping tabs on the time spent online and in putting in places parental controls.
- Avoid social media if possible: Yes, your child will get on these eventually, but avoid them until they’re 14 or 15 (ie mature enough to watch their own content). If you decide to let your child go on earlier, moderator them. Insist on being their friend on the site and insist that the child hide nothing from you. That way you can keep track of them. Also make sure their page is private and they are only friends with family or children from school.
- Try to Avoid Giving them a Smart Phone: Honestly, most children only need a cellphone for emergencies. If a child has a smart phone then they can access the internet with out being under tabs. This goes for iPads or iPods attached to WiFi as well. Besides what child needs a expensive gadgets? They should be playing outside for heaven’s sake.
All that being said, once a child hits 14 they should be mature enough to ensure some measure of decency, but that doesn’t mean parents still shouldn’t ask the child to share their Facebook page every once in a while or remind their child of the dangers of the web. Though I did say “should be”, it really is up to each individual parent to decide how mature their child is. Also, in this day and age if a child does not having any computer access, they do run the risk of falling behind in school and their eventual career path. Completely eliminating their computer time is just as bad as giving them unwatched computer time.
Children need more guidance than ever these days to keep them from dangers (whether that danger is themselves or some one else), so please take what steps you can to keep your child safe and not another “millie”.