Keeping Kids Safe in the Media Maze

Most parents agree that “the world is a different place.” Adults reminisce about the good old days, when Stranger Danger was a fairly straightforward concept, and when the family home was a castle—a fortress against the ills of the world. You could easily pick out and avoid the Baddies (because they wore black masks and capes, right?) And adults were righteous, respectable defenders of morality. Right always won out in the end—and everyone generally agreed about the definition of good.

Today’s young people do indeed live in a different society than the one their parents did. Our children’s post-modern world is madly intersected by an encroaching virtual realm, with its onslaught of unknown perils and menacing, faceless baddies. Who knows who can be trusted anymore? Worse still, bullies and predators can follow us around, in our pocket, via the mobile phone, and enter inside our homes through the internet. Our old boundaries and safety nets have become blurred, perforated and obsolete.

What’s a parent to do to keep their children safe when threats are so real yet so nebulous? Adding to the problem is the commonly acknowledged dilemma: children often have more exposure, experience, and expertise with technology than their parents do.