Last year, Jennifer’s class was introduced to using laptops in the classroom. I thought it was great that the kids were getting hands-on experience with technology, but I started to feel nervous after we received a permission slip to allow Jennifer to access the Internet. Normally, we didn’t allow her to get on the Internet before, because she was too young to understand Internet safety. We held off for as long as we could to allow Jennifer to use ANY Internet, at home and school, but this year, we had to give in. We had to allow Jennifer access to the World Wide Web.
When she first started using the Internet, her dad and I gave her a speech about Internet safety and the dangers of using the Internet. We also let her know you cannot trust people you don’t know on the Internet. We have told her that some people are nice, but other people can be really mean. She read a book about cyberbullying, but we have also talked to her about being careful with ANYONE she doesn't know who she talks to on the Internet.
Still, at 10 years old, maybe it is time for her to learn how to be safe on the Internet.
Ever since she started using the Internet at school, we have allowed her to use the Internet at home, as well. But we have explained to her that she cannot use the Internet without supervision.
Still, there have been a few hurdles. Like the time she accidentally downloaded a Trojan virus onto the computer. (She has since learned to be more careful about links she clicks on.) And she’s had to accept my refusal to register her for games on SOME web sites, because there are some sites that cannot be trusted and some that use your email to send a crapload of spam. (She’s still not happy about this but perhaps one day, after she has personally had to delete a bazillion spam emails from her email inbox, she will understand.) She knows she cannot give out her real name, address or phone number on the Internet. One day she will understand that it’s important to exercise that same caution with your email address.
Well, today, after school, Jennifer logged on to the computer. I figured she was going to play her usual games, and while she did play games or watch Dragon Ball Z Kai videos, she also ended up on Google. I noticed that after I found her perusing a page of links to LinkedIn profiles – all names that were mine!
I looked at her and asked, “Are you checking me out?”
She laughed and said that she wanted to look us up on Google in case there were people saying bad things about us. (Side note: I have reached a point where I. Just. Don’t. Care. If people are saying bad things about me. I have way too many other important things to worry about! But I didn’t tell Jennifer that.) I told her that if she wanted to Google me, then not to use my married name. (I have noticed there are quite a few “Dawn Wilsons” out there!) I told her I use my maiden name for my writing so I wrote it down for her. Then I said I also use the name “Dawn Colclasure-Wilson” but only on Facebook and for legal stuff. Armed with this info, she went right back to Google!
I walked off to the kitchen to get a VERY late lunch (it’s been a busy day) but I couldn’t help but smile. Wow, my little girl was Googling me? Really?
I have actually Googled myself before. Us writers are told we should, just to see if our work has been reposted somewhere without our permission and to see where our names have ended up. I have had some surprises with this. One time, I found that someone DID copy/paste something I wrote (a blog post) on their site, but they totally mangled it. They messed up all the words and it was just terrible. I asked them if they would kindly fix it but, instead, they just took it down. (Hey, either way was fine with me!) I have also seen how people have mentioned me on their web sites, along with my web site link (thank you, peoples!) as well as comments I have made on blogs showing up.
So this time, I was curious about how this would affect my daughter after Googling her mom.
While I sat at the kitchen table eating pasta, Jennifer ran in and said, “I found your web site!” I smiled and said, “That web site has been there for a while.” (That's like someone in my family FINALLY noticing one of my books on a shelf and going, "You're an author? Really?") When she ran back to read it, I started to wonder just what she’d click on from my web site. Would she go to the blogs? A book review? Would she check out one of the books I have on there?
I decided not to fuss over that so much and just let it be. Later, I noticed she’d had her Google fill and had decided to log off.
Before she went to bed, I asked her, “So what did you think of my web site?”
“It was cool!” she answered with a grin. “I learned a lot about you.”
That made me smile. Who knew that all of this Internet stuff we moms do could actually produce a learning experience for our children?