According the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2009 36% of children ages 8-18 had computers in their bedrooms, 33% with Internet access. This is a huge change from 1999 when only 21% of kids had computers in their bedrooms and 10% had internet access.
Computer usage with children and teens continues to change rapidly. In fact, some schools are beginning to provide laptops for each student and they are bringing those laptops home and want to use them in their bedrooms to do homework, play games, Skype, and go on Facebook. We all know that interacting online with their friends is what Tweens and teens love to do!
Even with all the advances in portability, experts still continue to recommend that children and teen’s computers be placed in a central location in the home “where you can watch over your child’s online activity.” This is clearly impractical in today’s world of lighter laptops and netbooks.
As teens assert their adolescent independence it becomes more difficult for parents to insist that their teen keep the laptop in the family room or kitchen. Yet it’s clear that because of all of the potential dangers of the Internet, the use of webcams, the misuse of computers, that parents need to parent online by monitoring what their children are doing at the computer.
So what’s a new solution that will allow kids to have their computers in their bedrooms and still allow parents to watch over what they’re doing online?
We suggest a “virtual” central location so that it doesn’t matter where a child’s computer is located in the home, a parent can still supervise – and it is an easy way to keep an eye on your child’s online activity without having to hover over their shoulder.
As the co-founder of ScreenRetriever, my husband I had these same challenges of parenting online in our home with our two teenage daughters and that is why we developed ScreenRetriever. It allows for random check-ins anywhere from your home to see what your child is doing on the computer, which in turns allows you to be involved whether they are in the kitchen or bedroom.
Is your child supposed to be doing homework, but is on Facebook instead? Are they Skyping with someone that you don’t know? What’s that picture they’re posting online? Knowing what your child is doing online allows you as a parent to become engaged and to have a conversation about computer usage and behavior – in other words, it allows you to parent online.
Being an involved online parent and parenting online is so important when you consider that everything your child posts online is creating a permanent digital footprint that could potentially affect future college admissions, job opportunities, or foster unhealthy habits and relationships. No one ever said parenting would be easy-offline or online, but it is essential!