You are a parent, your kids are growing up.
You are now thinking about “how can we keep a watch on our kids’ online activity, without being too intrusive?”
Quite frankly, I have no ideas on how to do this. But I asked myself a question “Why should I keep a watch?” After all I trust my kid when he goes out, I trust him to look after himself if I give him a car, etc. The thought of giving him a car leads me to think about driving, driving licence, etc.
Ah! Here is a possibility. What about giving an ‘Internet Licence’ to my kid? The idea of licence leads to me ‘driving lessons’ and the ‘driving test’.
So the first thing I decide to do is to spend time with my kid, using the internet. I issue a ‘learner’s licence’ and he uses the internet in my presence for 15 days. We agree on what he can do and what will be considered an ‘internet offence’ – for which he will get a ticket. I give him a licence once I am satisfied that he can look after himself.
Then I remembered what my niece Anusha Jaishankar has done in Bangalore to encourage responsible driving. Her campaign is called Positive Strokes, and rewards drivers who do the right things on the road. This has resulted in better driving behaviour on the roads and she has figures to prove that.
Therefore I am looking at the equivalent of Positive Strokes. We agree that I can play the cop from time to time to maintain safety. We agree on what is good ‘internet’ behaviour. We agree on what he can do and what is not appropriate for him. We agree on how many hours a day he can be on the ‘road’. We set up a system of rewards similar to the Positive Strokes programme. We look at net positive scores and every fortnight he can redeem his points for something he wants.
What is my wife’s role? She is the licensing authority and the judge in the traffic court.
Will all this work? I have a feeling it will and here is why:
- It is based on mutual trust and respect.
- The metaphor of driving, road safety, tickets etc. might add an element of fun.
- Rewards for positive behaviour will take the sting out of ‘watching’.
I hope somebody tries this and lets all of us know if this works!