He’s only 11. Maybe I’m naïve, but I doubt Connor is looking at porn sites or anything else inappropriate.
Am I in the majority or minority among parents? I don’t know.
Recently, I met a woman with two girls roughly my son’s age, and she checks their Internet search history daily.
Paranoid or protective?
I have a couple of friends who don’t let their kids have computers in their room. Instead, the computer is in a family room where they’ll be less tempted to visit sites they shouldn’t.
I take sort of a Libertarian approach to parenting – the fewer rules, the better. I figure if I’m constantly hovering, Connor will resent it and be more inclined to act out. Conversely, I think, if I give him more leeway to make choices, he’ll learn to make good ones.
We could get into a whole philosophical debate on parenting methods. Let’s not.
But the issue of kids and the Internet raises a couple of broader parenting questions:
- Do we try to shield our kids from evil influences? Or do we equip them to resist?
- Do we fear something bad could happen to our kids at any moment? Or do we trust they will avoid serious harm?
I think you have to adapt your parenting style to your personality and that of your child.
When we’re younger parents, I think we tend to be overprotective. When we get older, we tend to be too permissive.
OK, back to the Internet-monitoring question. When Connor becomes a teenager, I’ll probably keep a much closer eye on the websites he visits.
Until then, I want to give him some free rein. I want him to know, at least subconsciously, that I trust him. If he knows that, I think he’ll be better off than if I fret and check his computer constantly.
Time will tell. When Connor is 15 or 16, I may cut off his Internet service or restrict his use. I might even take the computer from his room.
But I doubt I will. My hunch: I’ll continue to focus more on teaching him good values than micromanaging his behavior.
Find the parenting approach that works for you. Modify it for each child if necessary. When thorny issues arise – like Internet usage –re-examine your style and change it if necessary.