Saturday, June 28, 2008

Adventures with Filtering & Blocking -- and Team Parenting

Difficult to be a working parent with different perspectives than your spouse.

I tried to set the Internet Explorer settings to need a password to get to new locations on the web. The point was for my young son and daughter (12 and 10, respectively) to need to talk with us before trying new websites. This was working fairly well when I was working from home a lot recently. But on my way home from working at a client's office, my husband called me on my cell to doublecheck the password. He just wanted to keep waiving my son through sites so he could work on his Boy Scout merit badge on Environmental Sciences.

When I got home, I sat down with my son to talk further when he asked me to waive Wikipedia through. He was looking for a place to research oceanographic careers. When I asked "Why Wikipedia?", he just knew that it was a good starting point. So we spent 15 minutes with a continuing discussion about how you search on the web, all the good web search tools for kids that are out there, that Wikipedia is a good starting place but not the be-all, end-all, etc. I really do like Wikipedia for the outside links toward the bottom -- it is a good place to find a basic definition and then expand from there into the outside resources to see the variety of quality research that is available. But it isn't what a 12 year old should be using as his primary information on oceanographic careers. We took the time to scan through links to about 6 universities' career pages in their oceanographic research departments. We were able to get to these from Wikipedia indirectly and then went to other search engines to see what we could see from there. (This is why I created, so kids could have other search starting points for finding great things online.)

But it does take (a) the time, (b) understanding what is out there (which many parents dont' know), (c) uniform behaviors from both parents (which we ourselves don't have), and (d) equal or sufficient knowledge from one or more parents (which my educated the web savvy husband really doesn't have abundantly).

We really are on different "pages." Do other families have this issue?

My husband says that he "trusts" the kids and does not feel responsible for making sure they are learning how to find their way in the world. He's happy that our kids can find Google and get to websites. He doesn't care much about what websites they go to as long as they are "safe," whatever that means.

As my husband says, "If it doesn't matter to his teachers where he gets his information, why does it matter to us?"



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