“This is for you!” declared a father proudly to his eight-year-old son.

“Wow, that’s huge,” said the boy as he stared at the pile of journals and magazines, standing four-foot-tall in the corner of his bedroom. “It’s taller than me!”

“Sure it is, son. It’s all for your education. So you’ll do well at school and know what’s happening in the world. There’s tonnes of information there, all for you.”

“Was it expensive, dad?”

“No, I didn’t buy it. I just found in outside our front door. I looked through some of it. Lots of great stuff there. Magazines, journals, books, newspapers …”

The eight-year-old thumbed through the top few magazines. “So you want me to read all of it, huh, dad?”

“Well, not all of it. Just some. I’ve only had a quick glance at some of the stuff.” He glanced gravely at the pile, knowing that there were some pornographic magazines, racist and other hate material there. “Well maybe I should get rid of some of the stuff. They’re just not be appropriate. You know, grown up stuff.”

“Ah, dad. I won’t read those.”

“You sure?”

The boy shook his head. “No way, dad.”

“I’m going to trust on this one, okay son?”

“Sure you can trust me. I won’t read the stuff that’s not right for me.”

“That’s good then. The pile is all yours. I know you’ll spend many great hours over it. All for your education, okay?”

“Sure, dad. Thanks!”

“See you later,” said the father as he closed the bedroom door and left with an uncertain look on his face.

So my question is: Is he a good dad or a bad dad?

This story is about parental control. And what I’m getting to is parental control over the internet. The analogy is pretty clear to me.

Do you know that you can change the settings on the computer (1) to restrict access to inappropriate sites or (2) allow our children to visit certain sites only. Alternatively, there’s software available to restrict access.

Parental control over the internet is important. It’s hard for us parents because we didn’t grow up with the net and so didn’t have parents to tell us what to do. We know not to let our young kids out at night because our parents didn’t let us do so.

But now it’s different. So it’s up to each parent to determine the sort of control that’s needed. This will vary with each child’s age.

But if there’s no control then maybe we’re no different from the father in my story.

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