Chances are, you love the Internet — both as a tool and a resource. As a mom, it has helped you find information, build community, generally become more aware of your world and it’s something you can’t live without. It’s only natural that you’d want to share this resource with your child. As your child has reached the tween and teen ages, you may have actively encouraged Internet use. But what if your child doesn’t want to go there? What if your child is just not interested?
For all the kids who beg and plead with parents to let them onto the Internet and social networking sites, there are some who are just not interested. You and other kids might think it’s strange, but — really — is there anything wrong with this lack of interest? Probably not.
Some kids just aren’t ready
Some kids aren’t ready. It’s as simple as that. Maybe your tween or teen simply has not expressed any interest or maybe your child has explicitly expressed that he or she doesn’t want to go online yet. Instead of pressuring your child to go online, try talking to you child about his or her understanding of the internet. You may be able to assuage concerns by addressing issues such as internet safety, privacy or cyberbullying, or the conversation may help you understand that stepping back is the right approach for now, for both of you.
Honestly, online life can add an stress to a day. While some think it’s enjoyable and fun and find community in it, other tweens and teens feel that the constant expectation to check email and social networking sites adds pressure to their lives and adds dimensions to social interactions that more than a few find confusing. In fact, it may be a relief for some kids to be able to step out of some of those dynamics by being able to say, “I don’t have a Facebook account.”
Maturity and self-control
A recent survey by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project showed that 93% of teens aged 12-17 go online. While the percentage is small, your child who isn’t online is not alone. In fact, you may want to look at such a scenario as an example of your child’s relative self-awareness and maturity. Your child is exercising self-control that some adults don’t have yet!
Eventually it will happen
Eventually, just about everyone will be online, some whether they want to be or not. More and more of our lives are online, and even the reticent adolescent will be turning in homework through email. Schools are incorporating the Internet into 21st century skills learning and kids will need to learn how to process and analyze the vast amounts of information available to them online. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 94 percent of public school instructional rooms had Internet access in 2005.
It will happen. Your reluctant child will be online eventually. Let it happen naturally and don’t push — and enjoy this non-electronic time with your child.