Your kids know more about the internet than you do

Emma McGowan 27 Oct 2020

How to keep up and connect with your kid's ever-growing tech knowledge

Young Gen Xers and old millennials were considered the first “digital natives” because we came of age with the internet. But let’s be real: No one is more “digital native” than Gen Z and the youngest among us, Generation Alpha. If you’re a parent and your small human is in one of those two generations, you’ve likely found yourself astonished at your kid’s proficiency with technology. 

Maybe it was how quickly they adapted to the iPad as toddlers. Maybe it’s the incredible videos they put together on TikTok. Or maybe it’s something as simple as streaming from the phone to the smart TV, which you still can’t figure out, no matter how many times your 12-year-old shows you. 

If that resonates with you, you’re not alone. According to the Avast Kids Online: Generation Lockdown survey, 36 percent of parents with kids under 12 say their child already knows more about the internet than they do. For parents of kids 12 and over, that number rises to 65 percent.

And while we’d love to just throw our hands up and say, “Kids these days!” like every generation of old people before us, there’s one major downside of the belief that kids know more than we do about the internet: For many parents, that belief keeps them from having important conversations about online safety. Because how can you guide your children on something that they already know more about than you do?

Psychotherapist and author Catherine Knibbs tells Avast that parents can’t be blamed for feeling this way, even if it’s not exactly accurate.

“There are so many books out there about how ‘scary’ the internet is,” Knibbs says. “And it makes parents feel absolutely useless at their job.”

To counteract that narrative, Knibbs likes to remind parents that the internet is actually reflective of the world at large. And while kids might know more about the specific tools of the internet, you — the parent — knows more about the world.

“We’re being told that children know more about cyberspace than we do,” Knibbs says. “That’s not actually true, because we know more about people and conversations than they do. So actually we know more about the internet than they do.”

Basically, you’re the grown-up. And they’re the kid. 

More importantly to this issue, they’re your kid. And what you know the most about?

“I used to say if you’re not tech savvy, get tech savvy,” Knibbs says. “But it’s a certain type of personality who wants to be tech savvy. Instead, become the expert of your child.”

Most parents, Knibbs continues, are the expert of their child. So while you might not understand how to play a certain game or what social media they’re on or even how to get the printer to work — while your kid is like, “This is so easy, MOM” — you do know how your kid processes things. You also know how conversations work; the dangers that exist in the world; and how to identify “bad guys.” 

In other words, you know more about the internet than you think. So don’t be afraid to have those important conversations about online safety with your kids! They’ll hate it, but we promise: They’ll thank you later.

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