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Why "My Child Would Never Do That" Is So Dangerous

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Internet safety is much like global warming, it is accepted by 99% of the academic and educated communities, and yet some people still resist it. That's just the way life is and statistically, with some many people in the world, it is inevitable.

Luckily we're not part of those who continue to refute it (either passively or impassively) but knowing the common biases and excuses for why people don't think that online safety is as important as it is, is a great tool to improve our own perspective and vigilance online.

In this article, we explore the most common reason parents give to not needing to be vigilant online and install protection for them and their kids.

 

"My Child Would Never Do That"

This is the most common explanation some parents give to justify why they don't need to do X or Y to keep their family safe online. They believe that their child is too mature or has sufficient awareness that they would never wander from what they're told, or make a mistake.

Let's be frank...those thinking that their child is immune to psychological manipulation (or just simple curiosity) need to sit up and listen. Watch the following video - whilst this video is old and shows the fathers being overtly hard on their kids (which we do not condone), it does demonstrate this exact point - parents abject belief "their" child wouldn't be 'that stupid', but really they're forgetting the fragility of the young mind.

 

 

Yes, overly dramatic and they're approached the experiment in all the wrong ways (I imagine this was incredibly distressing for some of the children), however it does hammer home the point.

If you have time, this video is 40mins long, watch this experiment too - it's about cyber bullying and also fascinating in its findings.

 

 

Explained By Medical Research...

Why does this happen? The academic research field of 'risk perception' is long established. Medical research papers found long ago that children are only able to have a short-sighted view of risk as they interpret risk completely differently to adults. They see it as a measure of how much something bothers them (i.e. makes them feel uncomfortable or upset), rather than an assessment of the likelihood of something happening against the potential impacts of that event materialising.

As their brains are still developing they are unable to assimilate the full scale of impact to even fairly innocuous interactions can have.

Whilst yes a lot of us have incredibly mature children who can deal with a lot of stuff that some adults can't, we mustn't forget the fact that children are physiologically unable to process and assess risk in the same way that adults can - they physically cannot do it.

 

What Can We Do As Parents?

It has to be our role as parents to help them understand the full level of risk. Parents need to have an understanding of cyber security risks themselves in order to help their children bridge this gap.

If you’re reading this and nodding along because you’ve already lived and breathed this lesson, and have taken “My kid would never do that” completely out of your vernacular, don’t hide it. Speak to your parent friends about the real struggles we all eventually go through, and that it's okay to drop the “we have the perfect kids” facade. This isn't about who's child is more mature than others - it's about protecting our children online and it starts with us.

Discuss it with your friends. Ask them about their biases. Do they recognise them or ignore them?

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