My youngest son, Daniel, is ten years old. The sweet, believes-in-Santa, thinks-everyone-is-his-friend kind of ten year old. He’s naïve, and I adore that about him. I know from having older children that it won’t last much longer, and I want to safeguard his childhood for as long as I can. That is why I am leery of his access to the internet: too much information that is too easy to obtain.
There’s no better example of the information overload than when Daniel had to research a project for his 5th grade class. He was dispatched to complete a map of the United States, including a rose compass, state capitals and a legend. Part of the project required Daniel to select 20 out of 40 predetermined locations and include them on his map, and one of his selections was the White Butte Mountains of North Dakota. Daniel started his research on the internet and typed in White Butte, however, he forgot a very important “e”…Needless to say, he wound up at a website that he was NOT expecting!
Daniel, bless his heart, did not know why his innocent misspelling of White Butte brought him to a place of naked, white men! I tried to keep my composure as he approached me with his find. I then had the disconcerting chore of trying to explain the website that Daniel had stumbled upon. He bought my explanation of men vacationing together and we left it at that. We quickly went and explored all that the White Butte Mountains had to offer.
It certainly made me think, though, about what kids can innocently find on the internet. So now when Daniel has a research project due, I make sure I do my research first!