Think about this. It’s CRAZY young kids on NICK.com (often 10 and under) can link to REALLY inappropriate games on AddictingGames.com (owned by Nickelodeon’s parent company?!).
To be fair, I don’t want to pick on NICK but it’s a good example. Although there’s a warning that you’re leaving the Nickelodeon site, it disappears in 5 seconds. Secondly, there’s a “bomb” icon that comes up when a game appears that’s not appropriate. But if a child is linking and the parent THINKS they’re on the NICK site, it doesn’t help.
It’s a new “parenting screen issue.” What’s that you ask? I made it up, but it’s when you assume you’re safe letting your child watch anything or interact with anything on a screen that you think is totally fine, like a football game on tv. Then the most bizarre and violent promo comes up for one of the lame network shows that you wouldn’t let your child near. But the network took that decision from you and showed them :30 of it anyway. And since it happened so fast, you’re racing to find the right button on the remote or your leaping over furniture to turn off the tv. But it’s too late because they’ve already seen it and they’re a little freaked out watching their parent overreact.
Now “linking” is doing the same thing. And when they’re under 10 you don’t want them to grow up too fast but you do want them to develop good judgment. So let them know about “leaving sites and entering a new site” and talk about all the tricks that Web sites have. Maybe even have a laugh and tell them how they’re already more mature than the so called “adults” that produce tv shows or create vile links.
And keep talking so they talk back (in a good way) and tell you things, like when they stumble over something that they’re embarrassed about or if someone says something bad to them online. They’ll know you have respect for their judgment and empathy for them because it’s not their fault.
They’re 10 and under. They deserve to be kids.