Internet safety has been a discussed topic as of late. Again. It’s an issue worthy of discussion for sure as long as any and all sides remember that we are always dealing with human beings and not some monsters.
However, we all know that’s not going to happen. Almost every single side will want to drive their narrative through and paint everyone else with bloody red colours and have them crucified for going against what they believe is the solution.
Children, of course, are in the crossfire in all this, and are more or less the ones who go unheard of. I’ve been lucky enough to meet with parents that have been more aware of modern Internet than what I was taught, but that’s mostly because I share very similar roots with their Internet usage and experiences. In the 90’s there very little you could do to limit your kid’s access to certain sites and even the most innocent test URL could yield interesting results. I remember. unown.com giving me a porn site somewhere in 1998 or so, and we laughed it off with bunch of friends.
This what kids usually do, if they are informed well enough. The best safety a child can have from the so-called dangers of the Internet is information. However, not all parents are willing to discuss hard issues with their children and that is very sad. Our children need to be protected without a doubt, but they are the best protection themselves. Pampering a kid with a hugbox and covering them from difficult issues and other matters that may hurt their feelings or psyche is detrimental on the long run. Experiencing these matters is what holds the key here.
Internet Matters is an organisation with good intent, to a large extent. However, they fail incredibly short with their initial approach that all the things they list on their site is automatically negative and bad. We are dealing with humans here at both ends of the keyboard, and the best thing we have is to remember that we all have our curiosities and preventing the venturous spirit of a child can be highly detrimental. Yes, talking with your child is the most recommended and apparent way here to prevent things from going wrong online and that’s great. However, there’s no guidelines anywhere how to prevent the child from acting negatively online. The automatic assumption here is that a child is always the victim, but in reality there are numerous teen, preteens and younger who are always on the offensive in chats, image boards and online games. It goes both ways.
Their example stories used in their videos are incredibly hilarious. Some of them are pretty valid in the end, but then you have the classical more or less ignorant video about online gaming. Jack’s story is about him experiencing a negative online co-op session, where he shot another player in the back and was all around a bad member of the team. Even before the meat of video hits in I already have quite a many questions about parenting here. First, Jack doesn’t seem to be old enough to play whatever game he is playing. It sounds like some Halo or similar. Halo is a PEGI-16 game series outside Spartan Assault. Then again, Jack is playing on what looks like a keyboard. This is like having Atari 2600 game sounds on a PlayStation game again.
Anyways, the game is clearly meant for older audience than what Jack is. Why does he have access to this game? It’s up to parents to say whether or not their child is old enough to have an access to something even when these products are meant to contain materials that a more experienced person can handle by design. Of course, if Jack’s father is an alcoholic who beats his wife every week, playing some Halo weights jack shit in his psyche balance.
Outside that, Jack clearly has anxiety issues and is frightful. Why is he then left alone with his devices and with no parental overseeing? He is on verge of tears before the chat and shit talking even begins. This kid got issues that has nothing to do with Internet safety or online gaming and needs professional help.
The whole chat is really nothing special in reality. In this narrative diven bubble it tries to show how a child is a victim of cyber bullying or similar, when in reality it’s just basic shit talking. Competitive gaming brings out the same passionate emotions any competition would and people can, and often will, act like total dicks when their loses because of one member. In online gaming it is possible just to be lumped together with a player who will simply screw the whole team. It’s not too uncommon and happens to everybody. While the person Jack is chatting with acts like a dick, he is justified to some extent. Jack clearly sucks at the game and even admits to it. Whatever anxiety issues Jack has kicks in when he gets called out, and I guess he has some self-esteem issues as well.
This online chat didn’t turn bad in just one click. It was bad before Jack even agreed to chat. There’s something wrong with Jack and his over sensitivity, and only his parents with a help from a professional can help the kid.
All aside, the video is blatant try to drive the narrative on how kids are victims here. Youtube is full of kids talking shit with players of same age and older. They may be cringingly bad, but it’s something that simply takes place. When you want to win, you want to psyche your opponent into submission or yell at your teammate for shooting you in the back. Jack’s depiction is that of an overly sensitive child who has an access to a game that is not meant for his age. He does not have enough experience to handle the game, either offline or online. Jack learned a good lesson with the experience as depicted in the video.
It’s easy for me to say that kids need some level of tough love while really no need to show any. A thick skin will carry a person a long way in life. Protecting curiosity should not be shielding children from the possibly bad things, but protecting that curiosity from being extinguished.
Filters are solution to a parent that doesn’t have time to educate and raise their child. They have their place to some extent, but I would encourage the use of most basic parental controls combined with good parenting. The Internet was designed to allow a person to access any information there is, and a clever kid is able to circumvent filters if necessary. Pretty much all 1st grade students I know regularly do that without their parents knowing. These are the same parents who give their child an unrestricted access to smartphones too. We can design all these devices to keep everyone from accessing anything that could inflict them negatively, but that would take away their point. We can’t artificially design life to be happy and dandy, we need to make it such. It takes experiencing bad things to enjoy the good things, and sheltering children from realities will only mean they can’t handle those realities when the shit hits the fan.
Jack’s case is having an access to a game that he could not handle. That’s not a matter of Internet safety, that’s a matter of parenting, as it always really is.