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Mini-matrix: Controlling and surveilling kids’ online activity

by Sohpie Ashton

Kayte Thomas explores setting boundaries with her kids surrounding their internet use and presence online in blog post, Internet safety and your kids

Perhaps specific to the times to the generation I was born in, I learned about ‘stranger danger’ on the internet at the same time that I learned about ‘stranger danger’ in the real world. When I was a born, the internet was becoming more widely accessible; people were still somewhat afraid of it. I recall starting to use the internet at a young age, although the surveillance abilities of our PC were extremely limited in comparison to what is available now.

I was aware of the potential dangers lurking anonymously behind the screen. I feared the stories I heard about young girls being groomed by online predators and this absolutely guided much of my online conduct. I made some of my worst online decisions as a teenager, though, (i.e. talking to strangers on Omegle when I hung out with my friends) probably because I was a teenager who wanted to make wrong decisions. The predatory behaviour never felt different online from when I was catcalled on a walk down the street to 7/Eleven at twelve years old.

Now apps like Life360 and MM Guardian allow parents to monitor the whereabouts of their children, monitor their text messages and other online activity at all times. Being empowered with information and knowledge, having open communication, and having someone to lean on when mistakes were made absolutely facilitated my safe use of the internet while growing up. As a kid I wanted to be trusted that, given the access to information, I could make good decisions for myself. Boundaries can be freeing!

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