Internet intervention doesn’t have to be painful. That’s why we partnered on this story with Torch, a new product designed to keep your kids safe online that’s now available for pre-order on Kickstarter.
We all know how easy it is to get sucked down online “rabbit-holes.” One minute you’re Googling a recipe for baked ziti – and the next, you’re engrossed in an article about water on Mars. (Or, you know, the Kardashians.) It happens.
Kids also fall prey to these distractions, because, well, kids fall prey to almost any distraction. (And who can resist a funny cat video?)
While the Internet is a treasure trove of opportunities to learn and explore and create, it’s also rife with rabbit-holes. Separating the good stuff from the bad stuff can be difficult, especially when you can’t monitor their usage every minute of the day – because let’s face it: standing over their shoulder like the Internet Police really sucks. But when you leave them to their own devices – literally – things can go awry with a quickness. From stumbling on unsavory content to spending far too much time in the online world, there are a bazillion ways for the Internet to go from cool to questionable. Here are a few signs your kid might be in need of a digital detox.
1. When you just. Can’t. EVEN. You love chatting with your kiddos, but not when the sole subject matter is Minecraft, Five Nights at Freddy’s, Wizard 101, or any other game that makes you instantly glaze over. You start out with a friendly mention of something totally unrelated – like the weather – and suddenly creepers and zombies are involved. AGAIN. Like in EVERY OTHER CONVERSATION THIS WEEK.
2. When you spend $5,000 on a Disney vacation, only to have your kids stay in the hotel playing Minecraft the whole time.
3. When the end of screen time = the end of the world. You say, “Turn off the computer and let’s have dinner.” They hear, “I AM A MEAN AND HORRIBLE PARENT AND I AM ASKING YOU TO DO SOMETHING DREADFUL AND UNFAIR.” Bitter complaints ensue … from both sides.
4. When you find yourself asking, “Did that really happen?” You listen intently as your kid rants about some dramatic event, and wonder what the heck actually goes on at school – until you realize he’s talking about a game.
5. When you’re overly paranoid because your child is a little too into those “epic” pranking videos. You find yourself suspiciously eyeing the shower curtain and doing a thorough inspection before you use the sprayer in your kitchen sink.
6. When screen time beats sleep time. You wake up at 2:30 in the morning to pee, and there’s your kid, staring into the glow of the computer screen like a dazed deer in the headlights. Is he still gaming, long after you told him to hit the sheets? Did he wake up specifically to get on the computer after-hours? It’s anybody’s guess, but you know this: getting him out of bed – once he finally gets there – is not going to be pleasant.
7. When there’s not much “quality” in “quality time.” Grandma comes over for some bonding with the kids … but not even her homemade cookies can compete with computing. (And then you get to hear a lecture. Oh joy.)
8. When there’s a shady search. Like a dutiful parent, you go through your child’s Internet search history from when he was supposed to be researching a science project. So far, it looks squeaky-clean: “how do plants make their own food,” “the process of photosynthesis” “what is chlorophyll” … and, oh. “Boobs.”
9. When acronyms find their way into actual speak. You ask your kid to take out the trash – and along with the requisite eye roll, there’s a huffy exclamation of “OMG” (or worse, FML). Seriously, child? SMDH.
10. When they’re practicing cyber-sneakiness. The lights are turned off, your kid is safely tucked into bed at a reasonable time, and you think the tablet is safely stowed away for the night – but hey, you don’t remember buying glow-in-the-dark sheets …
Awesomeness abounds on the Internet (hello, Scary Mommy!), but there really can be too much of a good thing, especially when it comes to kids. We’re lucky that, as adults, we have our priorities straight.
… Now get back to Googling that recipe – there are funny cat videos to watch.
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