Parents need to take back control

When there were only video recorders it was a bit of a joke when people reckoned that only the young could set them up to record. The joke continued when products like Sky-Plus appeared.

But the signs of what was to come were already there as children found their way to pornography sites and shopping channels.

Then came the smart phone. Again, there were enough warnings for those with their eyes open as mobile phone bills rocketed, as did the bills for gaming and gambling.

But then the smart phone and the Internet really came of age, although parents often didn’t. Parents seemed to treat the Internet much like video recorders and Sky-Plus. Applications like Facebook seemed like harmless, trivial chatting amongst adolescents; and messaging applications seemed like a foreign language of acronyms and emojis.

But you only have to pick up the newspaper on most days and you will find stories of young people being groomed by paedophiles; young people being groomed by terrorist organisations; young people committing suicide after being trolled; gangs using the Internet to create revenge attacks; drugs being bought over the Internet and so on.

What is particularly disturbing is that nearly every case has two consistent characteristics. The first is that most of the victims are young people and in most cases parents say they had no idea!

Each of these smart devices has parental controls and applications such as ‘Find a Friend’ so you can track someone. But more importantly, how does a parent not know that their child is sending naked images to, what turns out to be a dirty old man.

It beggars belief that parents who believe that they have a straight A student, didn’t know they were disappearing halfway across the world to join ISIS. I also wonder how a young person hides a two-foot knife from their parents.

In most cases the answer should be that the parent knows. If they don’t then now is the time to start finding out. Stop pretending that you don’t understand technology and become technology wise.

Young people have always tried to push back the boundaries, but in the past the word was push. Now, technologically illiterate parents are simply leaving the door open. Unless it is closed the parents telling the media through copious tears that ‘they had no idea’ will go on.

The odd pornography film or a big bill for the phone on holiday was one thing. However, we are now dealing with sexual assault, stabbings, terrorist organisations, drugs and death. Stop looking to governments for solutions and act now to protect your own.

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