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The Battalion

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The Battalion

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Opinion: The iPad shouldn’t be the parent

The internet isn’t a safe place for kids
Opinion+writer+Maddie+McMurrough+says+a+parent%E2%80%99s+job+is+to+protect+their+childs+innocence%2C+and+that+means+teaching+healthy+technology+habits+and+restricted+internet+access.+%28Photo+by+Rebecca+Cervantes%2FThe+Battalion%29
Photo by Rebecca Cervantes
Opinion writer Maddie McMurrough says a parent’s job is to protect their child’s innocence, and that means teaching healthy technology habits and restricted internet access. (Photo by Rebecca Cervantes/The Battalion)

IPad kids should be declared a national security threat.

Being the absolute menaces that they are, they inspired my generation to take up abstinence. Now, I’m not a parent, so I understand you’re probably thinking how you raise your children is no concern of mine, but when I’m old and dying in a hospital, my doctor will be Fortnite dancing over my dead body after getting their medical degree from CoComelon College. So yeah, I have a vested interest in this. 

Their futures are actively plummeting down the Skibidi Toilet

Growing up, I played Barbies, ran around outside and — if I was good — spent an hour or two on my Wii. I received my first phone when I was 13. When I was younger I was annoyed with how late I received my phone, but now, as an adult, I am so grateful to my parents for restricting my access to the internet. 

Nowadays, kids spend hours playing Roblox and watching brain-rot YouTube videos on their personal phones and iPads. The CDC stated that the average kid spends 7.5 hours on their screens; those screen time hours don’t include any time spent on online school or educational programs. They are obsessed with microtrends and internet lingo, and while that technology may give you an hour of peace now, I guarantee it will give you years of stress. 

I am in no way saying all of Generation Alpha are internet-obsessed monsters. I have baby cousins who are the lights of my life and still enjoy their iPad time. I am so proud of my cousins, and every day I hear something that reminds me how kind and intelligent they are. The key to their success is how their parents taught them to be safe online. They use their iPads as a tool of growth, and occasionally to check their fantasy football teams. 

By tool of growth, I mean expanding their vocabulary and problem solving through Khan Academy Kids, learning chess on Chess.com and reading books on their Amazon Kindle app. 

So, here are some things to keep in mind to ensure that the iPad doesn’t ruin your child’s life and give you more peace of mind in the long run. 

First and most important, the internet is not a safe place for children. Young kids are not stupid when it comes to bypassing parental controls. They were born with an iPhone in their hands, and I guarantee they know how to use it better than you do. 

While the internet offers anything you could wish to search in seconds, it is also home to some depraved individuals who are hoping an impressionable kid will wander into their channel and direct messages. So, teaching your child internet safety is of utmost importance. If you are unsure about doling out this kind of responsibility that is required when being online, ask yourself: if I had this technology at their age, would I use it properly and safely? Would I know who and who not to trust online? 

The second thing to think about is how cruel people are online. Cyberbullying is a huge issue. According to the Journal of Pediatrics, “A recent report shows that in the US, the majority of adolescents (59%) have experienced some form of cyberbullying, and 22.6% of adolescents aged 12-17 years have been the subject of a cyberbullying incident in the past 30 days.”

People feel brave when they are anonymous. They encourage things such as eating disorders, self-harm and, in the most extreme cases, suicide. When young kids stumble onto these pages, irreparable damage can be done that will alter their esteem forever. The second aspect to this is teaching your children kindness so they don’t participate in cyberbullying. How will they understand how their comments and posts can affect people if you don’t teach them that? 

Third, balance is key. You can’t bar your children from the internet, especially since technology is becoming integrated into education. As with all things in life, a healthy balance is key —  just like how you teach them a healthy balance when eating candy or drinking soda. Balance is important in every aspect of life, so when they learn a codependency on their tablets, that doesn’t bode well for the other aspects that require balance. 

I consider my baby cousins to be my very own babies. I worry about them going through life and navigating the hard times, but one thing I don’t have to worry about is their internet safety. I know their parents have spent the time teaching them how to be safe. 

All parents need to make this their number one priority when it comes to technology. I myself struggle with issues caused by technology, and I had very safe and limited access in my most impressionable years. What is going to happen to these kids if there is no intervention to their constant unrestricted access? 

Finally, access to adult lifestyles forces your children to grow up faster. Look at the Sephora 10-year-olds trend where young children are buying retinol and full-face makeup because it’s trendy online. They wear adult clothing and act older. This is robbing them of the innocence of being young, and it’s concerning that parents are OK with that. 

Parents, I implore you to take some time to talk to your kids about internet safety, and maybe consider restricting their access. 

Your children deserve a childhood full of whimsy and imagination. That is what I remember the fondest about mine. When my life felt overwhelming or confining, I remember playing outside without a care in the world, enjoying being a kid and simply that. No worries about my body, phone notifications or societal pressures. It is the purest and easiest your life will ever be, and it is our responsibility as their guardians to protect that at all costs. Because when it’s gone, you will never get it back.

Maddie McMurrough is an agricultural communications and journalism junior and opinion writer for The Battalion. 

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About the Contributor
Maddie McMurrough, Opinion Writer
Maddie McMurrough is an agricultural communications and journalism major from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Maddie has been writing for the Battalion since March 2023.
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