There’s been a lot of chatter lately about the need for parents to let their children fail. The argument is that failure in the form of “natural consequences” allows kids to learn independence and accept responsibility for their actions. Children whose parents come to their rescue over every challenging assignment or forgotten textbook won’t likely acquire the skills to be self-sufficient until they’re on their own, and then the failures will be much more difficult to swallow.
They could come in the form of lost scholarships, employment terminations, and relationships gone bad. Clearly, it’s better to let children fail now while in our care than later when they’re expected to go it alone. This is possibly the best advice a parent can take, except for when it comes to one area—the Internet. Helicopter parenting may be all wrong in nearly every other aspect of a child’s life, but when it comes to the web, it’s essential. Why? Because online, the stakes are just too high. Irresponsible web use can result in kids being cyberbullied, stalked, or exploited, and even if they escape these worst case scenarios, there are other, more common concerns to think about such as online privacy and reputation management. So go ahead, be overprotective when it comes to your kids’ web use. Not sure where to start? Consider these tips.
### Monitor, don’t spy
Not many people enjoy being spied on, and kids are no exception. Spying is a deceptive act and one that could erode the trust you’ve worked hard to establish with your child. Instead of playing detective, be upfront about your decision to monitor your kid’s online activities. Explain to your child why it’s necessary and stand your ground. No matter how mature or responsible, kids aren’t ready to navigate the web on their own.
### Educate often
Since natural consequences aren’t an option when it comes to the web, it’s important that you empower your child with knowledgeof online safety. Talking to them about how to stay away from trouble online needs to be an ongoing conversation, not a one-off discussion.
### Create an online presence
Banning your kid from the Internet is not only virtually impossible; it’s also a bad idea. Colleges and employers are increasingly relying on Google to do their vetting for them, so your kid needs to have a space of his own online. Help your child build a website and/or social media profile that highlights his or her hobbies, interests, and accomplishments. Doing so will be a bonding experience for the two of you and will teach your child the importance of putting his or her best foot forward online. Failure can be an excellent teaching tool when it comes to grades and the like, but failing on the Web can have serious repercussions for your child’s safety and reputation. After all, the real permanent record is online.
Why Parents Need to Let Their Child Fail http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/01/why-parents-need-to-let-their-children-fail/272603/
Are We Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Mickey-goodman/are-we-raising-a-generati_b_1249706.html