Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Parenting in the internet age

Posted June 20, 2010 2:30 p.m. EDT

I'm not trying to brag or anything, but I consider myself pretty internet savvy. After 16 years in television newsrooms, I ought to be good with a keyboard and a connection. Then came summer break 2010. My oldest daughter asked for an email address.

"All of the kids in my class have one," she said. I have a feeling I'm going to hear that phrase quite a bit.

While I've always been prepared for technology professionally, I was ill-prepared for technology as a parent. What age is appropriate for children to have an email address? How do I know what my daughter is doing online? How do I activate parental controls? How do I stop her from "googling" and accidentally stumbling upon something inappropriate? I guess I better google "parental controls" and find out!

My nine-year-old's request opened my eyes to parenting in the internet age. And I am not alone. Recently, I read a press release that said 30 percent of parents surveyed say their kids will spend more time online now that it's summer. Fortunately, the majority of parents were confident their children knew how to stay safe online. There’s hope for me after all.

So far, the email experience has been harmless. My daughter sends little notes to me, her dad and her babysitter ... just one or two emails each day to say hello and offer a few details of how her day is going. I have access to her account and check it regularly. We have conversations about what is/what isn't OK online. And her time is limited on the computer.

Now I'm left wondering what she'll want the next time around when I hear, "All of the kids in my class have one."

Aysu is the busy mom of three kids and assistant news director for WRAL-TV.