In the media both here at home in Britain and seeing reports from the USA, on-line abuse has been pushed as a major problem. I’m seeing two major parts to this problem, abuse aimed at children and abuse aimed at women.
Children in an online environment.
You don’t have to be a Einstein to realise that as with anything in life Children need to be educated about how to stay safe and conduct themselves in a new environment. Who is to educate them? It should be the parents, but as this is the first generation that has been brought up in a fully internet age the parents have not the experience of being taught how to teach internet safety to their offspring. Parents also don’t have the experience of being a child and let loose on the internet. The parents have no frame of reference to educate themselves on the subject and struggle to come up with a plan to show their offspring how to safely navigate the internet.
For example when I was young my Father taught me how to ride safely on a bike within the local area. How was he able to do this, because when he was young he attended lessons on bike and road safety, which where no longer run when I was growing up. I was then set boundaries of where I could cycle on the road and where I had to use a path. As I grew in Experience and age this area was expanded, till eventually after leaving sixth form I’d be cycling to and from work dicing with articulated trucks carrying tonnes of steel doing 30 mph trying to cut me up on roundabouts.
Because the internet is so big and new, parents don’t know how to limit their children’s use of the net. One of the most popular games among a certain age bracket is Minecraft, but this game can also be a massive weakness in a computers safety. Minecraft is a great educational tool and also a great game it’s like Lego for the modern age. Minecraft is worthy of a blog just to itself, but I’m bringing up two factors. The first is add-on modules to add extra skins etc to the game. They will see their favourite YouTuber using a certain package and wont it themselves, the child will be savvy enough to find the package but not enough to check if it’s safe to download. They just want the package, they wont understand the danger of downloading any malware. This malware could be installing virus’s,key logger or spyware and bypassing your normal security. It could be a tracking tool to find out what servers your child is logging onto, getting the password for that world. The second is a highly kids centric game brings out the more unsavory characters, either bullies or paedophiles. People that log on to hunt/haunt kids online.
You see the parents ‘sound-bite’ that the internet is unsafe but so is crossing the road or playing in the park or as I did as a child build a den in a wood away from the residential area and away from adult prying eyes. Children, teenagers and young adults need guiding through the minefield that is growing up in a ‘internet all the things.’ You could lock your children away from the internet, but what you going to do with them send them out to play. Haha. The amount of children playing outside has greatly diminished since I was a child. Ask a bunch of 7-10 year old boys do you have a den, the reply is most likely “what’s a den?” or it might be “Dad, has one of those.” I used to run an 1 1/2 hour survival session for kids, the children if they have seen Bear Grylls might have the knowledge but no actual skills, No building something and checking if it will stay up. The theory is there but no practical experience. The message since the 70’s has changed from don’t talk to strangers to don’t play outside. The theory of how to play but no practical experience, this is what needs to changed.
Parents need to sit with their child not once but over a number of years and discuss safety. Show them how to not leave a digital signature, give them boundaries, but also monitor the activity. As the child grows widen the boundaries give them more free rein. But more importantly if its sunny kick them outside tell them tea is at 6 be back by then or there’s going to be trouble!
Some parents don’t seem to grasp the nature of the games their children play, Minecraft is great in this way, it’s a ‘safe’ game with no difficult issues to be involved in. With the massive improvement of graphics since I grew up with computers there is a difference of killing monochrome sprite on a Spectrum to killing an almost photorealistic enemy today on console or PC. How many parents go out and buy GTA V not really knowing about the actual content of the game. I think COD has been in the media enough for most adults to realise what the game entails. But what about the games like Witcher III, it does contain some adult themes. Every generation has a ‘boogie’ man created by the media, this boogie man been the reason for unrest within the younger generations, in the past we have had rock and roll, punk, heavy metal, dungeons and dragons and computer gamers.
Games I own and their PEGI rating
Shadow of Mordor 18 -Murder, killing, assaination
Halo 5 18 – killing
Farcry 4 18 – killing
Fallout 4 18 – Killing, drugs
GTA V 18 – drugs, language, murder, killing
Borderlands (all of them) 18 – murder, killing, adult themes
Witcher III 18 – killing, adult themes
Fifa 15 3 –
Silly overpaid ‘sports’ people
Gaming when I grew up was associated with it been for kids. This is no longer the case, these kids have grown up and are now adults and still enjoy playing games. But the games I play, the music I listen to and the movies I watch are not suitable for children. Deadpool is not suitable for young children and neither is GTA V, but kids still have access to GTA V. This is not the gaming industry’s fault, like it’s not the fault of the movie industry if a kid watches a film underage. The reponsibilty rests with the child’s parents/guardians.
- It’s the parents personal responsibility to educate themselves on internet security.
- Pass this knowledge onto your children.
- Monitor and asses your child’s interactions
- Parents need to keep up with new trends in social media to be aware of new threats.
It can’t be the teachers responsibility, the internet age moves to fast. Media is often talking about dumbing down of curriculums, you can’t keep adding new stuff for children to learn in a finite amount of time without expecting somethings to be glossed over or removed. If parents do this not only are they helping their own offspring immediately but a decade or two’s time when they are now grandparents they know that their kids have a basis on how to teach internet safety! In the last 20 years we have gone from mobile phones been housed in briefcases to a multimedia communication device where the phone is more about it been a mini computer than just a phone. It will be like a cold war arms race between the parents keeping the child safe and the child pushing the boundaries and accessing all the information they want. If parents can not or will not be bothered to educate their offspring and demand the Government enact legislation, it will have no deft touches of a personal educational tool. It will be a cleaver and a baseball bat approach. There will be a long list of things banned drawn up by some one in a little office in westminster. For example what if someone lobbied that children should not be allowed to watch ice hockey because of all the violence or football should only be viewed by 18+ audiences because of the spitting and the chance that swearing could be picked up by the refs mic. But kids could still watch rugby because that’s a gentleman’s game. But then someone comes forwards that rugby should be banned because of the injuries causing bleeding and the use of a sinbin encourages exclusion. Then snooker gets banned because they use a black ball and thats racist. Cricket gets banned because they wear whites and cooking programs get banned because of chef whites etc. The Governments should not have to nanny us, we don’t want the goverment to nanny us, because if they do we lose more of our freedom.
See you on the other side…