Bad Mum

Magazine

8 October 2018

Pandora's box




So what is it like being a parent to a child of ‘Generation Alpha’, the children of Millenials?

In a word, heartbreaking.

Don’t you think Generation Alpha sounds like something from a Sci Fi Novel, where the whole world has gone to shit and the only chance of survival is this final generation?

Well to be honest, in my opinion, that’s not far from the truth.

The introduction of the world wide web and numerous new technologies, to allow us to have information at our fingertips, is, for a parent, a pretty scary world to live in. For me, the Internet is the modern day Pandora’s box. Amazing, yet cursed, and now it is open, we can't close it.

The Internet is everywhere, like a poison ivy, it spreads. It infiltrates our homes, and brings the unwanted to our door.

My daughter is six, and for her birthday she got a bikini. We were away on holiday at the time so there was nothing strange about it. She put it on and I asked her to let me take a picture. When I looked at the picture I felt a tiny pin prick in my heart, for two reasons. Firstly because she put her hands on her hips and pouted, looking into the distance. This made her look at least 3 years older than she is. Secondly because I knew I would never be able to share this picture of my daughter anywhere online, for fear of where it might end up.

You may be wondering why that’s such a big deal? Just don’t put it on facebook, problem solved. But that’s just it, the problem isn’t solved. The problem is just beginning.

I am not saying that I want to share all the photos I have of my children online, but what I find frightening are the reasons why I shouldn’t.

I find it scary that she posed the way she did, at six years old. Something I can only attribute to external influences because I sure as hell don’t pose like that for photos, not now, and not when I was six.

I find it scary that certain apps that are aimed at children have enabled paedophiles to access the accounts and start online chats with unsuspecting children.

I find it scary that the ‘restricted mode’ on youtube still allows me to search under the word ‘sex’.

I find it scary that my daughter will grow up in a world where people get their self worth from ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ and that the first real compliment she might get from a boy on her instagram could actually be from a 43 year old sex pest who lives at home with his mum.

I find it scary that when my boy turns 16 there will be a good chance he will have watched more porn than me. (which is none by the way).

You see, you can add parental locks, and restricted modes, and watch them like a hawk when they are with you, but what about when they aren’t?

What about the sleepovers, or the late night gaming sessions at their mates when someone gets bored and wants to take a risk? In my day it was prank phone calls at midnight, or a game of truth or dare. These days it’s chat rooms with hot American guys (who are most likely neither hot, nor American) or doing porn searches on google images!

My children’s innocence will be lost at a far younger age than mine, and as a parent it’s a hard pill to swallow.

Some say that these children don’t know any different, so it isn’t such a big deal to them. However, I do know different. I remember.

Of course I will do everything I can to minimise all of the above, and I appreciate that a lot is now being taught in schools regarding Internet safety.

I also know that sooner or later, there will be a moment, or a conversation that I will need to have with my child or children that I never wanted to have, and I will have the wonderful world wide web to thank for it. 

Author: Laura @mum_bore
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