Publication Details

de Rosnay, M. (2015). Milestones: what is the 'right' age for kids to travel alone, surf the web, learn about war?. The Conversation, 5 January 1-4.

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Being a parent presents some problems. Irrespective of what you want, your children are going to take actions or be exposed to things that you may not relish. There is the ever-present possibility that they will experience things that you want to actively protect them from. The web provides some salient examples, like pornography. I really don't want my eight-year-old seeing pornography. However, when my eight-year-old asks me an important Dungeons & Dragons question like, "Dad, can a paladin do magic and wear armour?" or he wants to know how solar panels operate, I always encourage him to look on the web. I've taught him to search on Google, to follow his curiosity, and I sometimes do it with him. Ultimately, I want him to be able to seek answers to the questions that are interesting to him independently. He is guaranteed to run into something dodgy on the web and my wife and I can take ordinary precautions. To our way of thinking, however, more extreme precautions - prohibiting unsupervised internet use and high level parental control - start to present their own risks. One might ask, at what age should I allow my child to use the web unsupervised?