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Internet Does Not Discriminate

12th Oct 2023

I have this habit of involving my now 8.5-year-old son in domestic chores. That helps me spend more time with him and also yields a fantastic byproduct of making him independent. So one Saturday he was helping me with the laundry, hanging the wet clothes on the balcony to dry. He was 6 years old then. Suddenly, he realized, "Mumma, you have two undergarments and Papa has only one?" I did not see it as a big thing and casually replied, "Yes because male and female bodies are different." His expressions clearly highlighted he did not understand it. So to make it even simpler I said, "A boy and a girl have different bodies." I did not explain further.
As I was tired after all my chores, I thought of letting him watch cartoons for some time and have a nap meanwhile. However, he insisted on playing with the phone. So I gave him, I do give him a phone when I want to rest. And it was a half-hour thing. I assumed he would play his favorite racing game on the phone like he usually does. But, when I was half in my senses ( the other half being in deep sleep!) I could notice the astonishment on his face. But I still let him play because I wanted to sleep.

After half an hour, when he returned the phone, I tried opening the previous tabs. The latest one was a game app and the next one was Google. I thought of ignoring it but wanted to make sure I knew what he was searching for there. So saw the browsing history. He had searched for "Girl's body", the internet is vast, and it showed him images on priority and probably the ones he should not have seen. Well, precisely, he was not even seeking it, it just appeared as per the keywords he entered. The moment I saw it, I was furious, "How could he do this? Why did he search for it?"; but when I thought more, I realized I left his curiosity unanswered, and he very well knew who could answer it for him. He knocked on the right door, but was provided all that he shouldn't have been! Not his mistake totally. I first calmed myself down and then called him closer. The moment I asked him, "What did you do on the phone today?" I saw him feeling scared and unsafe like he knew he did something wrong and would be punished for it now. I took him close, made him lean on my lap (was possible at that age!) quietly started patting his forehead, and made him understand, "I did not tell you everything in detail about human bodies and body parts because it is of no use to you right now and may not understand at this small age. When you grow up, you will get to know all about it. And that time I won't even stop you." He felt guilty and apologized. I further added, " See you are small, I know that you know how to use a smartphone. But not necessarily the smartphone knows that he has to answer a kid's questions. So next time you want to search for something, come to me, I will help you find the right information that will help you know the correct thing, something that suits your age. Ok?" He then seemed a little relaxed, and said, "Yes Mumma, I will."
I am sure incidents like these happen very frequently, and it is obvious too. We as parents should not make them feel like it is something not for them, or that they have made a big mistake by doing it. In fact, incidents like these are an opportunity to talk to kids about topics that we otherwise hesitate to share with them.
As far as the internet is concerned, well, it does not discriminate. So it is up to us how to expose our little ones to this vast information ocean because there is no escape. Digital is the future and keeping kids away from it is not the solution.

This post is a part of Happinetz - Internet Does Not Discriminate

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