Non-Fiction: The Internet: Are Children In Charge? by Charlene E. Doak-Gebauer

The Internet: Are Children in Charge

Children are being given excessive ownership for their decisions online. They are too young to make decisions that require a higher level of maturity and life experiences.”

— Charlene E. Doak-Gebauer

“I wonder who is chatting with my child today?” thinks the parent of a 13-year old teen who has been bullied.

“I wonder if Sarah is okay. Her boyfriend recorded them having sex and distributed it throughout the school. I’m so worried about suicide,” thinks a parent about her daughter who was a victim of sexting and revenge porn.

Do you know who is chatting with your child online? Do they know? Is your child a bully? Victim? Suicidal? This is a global issue. Do we know how to digitally supervise a child in our care?

As a computer specialist and network administrator in education, Charlene Doak-Gebauer has created her “Theory of Digital Supervision for online child protection,” which is included in detail in The Internet: Are Children In Charge? The online vulnerabilities of our children have increased unimaginably in the past few years because of the Internet and actions of unknowns, knowns, and our children. In addition to unknown predators, our children have become victimizers because of their exposure to so much inappropriate content online.

According to Heidi Olson, Kansas City, child-on-child sexual assault has become staggering in numbers in their pediatric trauma unit at Mercy Hospital. In fact, according to Finkelhor (et al 2014), a large research study showed that anywhere from one third to half of all perpetrators are juveniles.

Doak-Gebauer impresses upon everyone that parents globally are faced with this challenging dilemma. She says, “Whenever I speak anywhere in the world, a parent will put up their hand and say they think it is an invasion of the privacy of their child. I ask them ‘Is it invasion or evasion?’ Invasion of privacy or evasion of parental responsibility for a minor?”

Digital Supervision is written as a user-friendly, proactive approach to online child safety. Doak-Gebauer maintains children are being given excessive ownership for their decisions online. The author maintains that children are too young to be given ownership for decisions that require a higher level of maturity and life experiences.

Laws can change in countries, but without method, parents are at a loss. The addition of this user-friendly theory of digital supervision to traditional parenting is necessary, and can assist parents and adult allies in catching up to the digital age. For example, Doak-Gebauer advises having the router in the parental bedroom for two reasons: firstly, it can be turned off at night without children turning it back on; and, secondly, the location tells the family who is in charge. ◊

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