I like to think of myself as sitting right at the front of the technology bus, but something my daughter said to me over the weekend sent me all the way to the back holding my head in shame.
“Have we got a Webcam?” she asked. “No” I replied.
Now when it comes to social media I’m right in the thick of it. A tweet here, a status update there, but I’d never been one for the real face-to-face digital experience. I knew that somewhere we had an old Sipix Snap digital camera that could double-up as a webcam, but it was probably buried under a mountain of discarded tech and besides it was rubbish anyway. So, without thinking I told her I would get one.
After an hour or so of browsing the internet checking specifications, recommendations and prices a dim light-bulb switched on in my head… “Why does she want a webcam?”.
As parents, my partner and I couldn’t disagree more about how the internet should be served up to our young impressionables. I’m all for the free and open trust them to do the right thing approach, whereas my partner thinks they should be closely monitored 24/7. But even I was feeling those parental twinges when it came to the idea of a webcam.
My daughter has always been allowed to participate in social networks like Club Penguin, Nickelodeon’s Toon Town and she even MSNs her friends. But these were all faceless text-based interactions and somehow seemed safe, the prospect of people actually being able to see her and her them cut right through my free and open policy. I suddenly had visions of mammoth chatroulette sessions, skype calls to strangers in foreign countries and even packs of predatory paedophiles hunting her down.
All of this was simply my adult mind running away with it self, after all, all she wanted to do was chat about clothes and make-up with her friends. It seems that no matter how technologically advanced the system, it’s still those face-to-face interactions that garner the strongest responses both good and bad.
We have still yet to decide whether to buy a webcam or not, what do you think? Do your kids have there own webcam? Do you know who they’re talking to?