COMPARED to previous generations, bringing up children in this day and age must seem, and be, a lot harder.
With greater mobility, the world is larger, more explorable; it is extremely populated; and, instead of three or four television stations to choose from, satellite and cable television gives us access to nearly 100 channels, and easily a thousand programmes a day. And with personal computers being a mainstream given, coupled with affordable broadband, the door to the Internet is open, letting us walk into any and every part of the world, at any time of the day or night, into the lives of those different from ourselves, and they into ours. If there can be a modern equivalent to biting into the fruit of knowledge, firing up the computer and entering the Internet is it.
But can there be such a thing as too much knowledge? The Internet in itself has no value. Used judiciously, it is a treasure beyond compare. However, in the hands of children, a limitless access to the Internet can be a dangerous thing. To a certain extent, parents can control what is taught in school, have minders keep an eye on the children after school, and even vet their neighbourhood playmates. But this is much harder to do in cyberspace. If one allows one's offspring to set up a Facebook account (and many parents do, even for under-13s, in contravention of Facebook rules), one gives one's child access to what may on the surface be a harmless enough environment in which to socialise with friends. But who is going to be there to ensure that some paedophile is not masquerading as a fellow child; that sexually-advanced acquaintances aren't sharing tales of their exploits; or that some heretofore acceptable friend has not "Liked" something one considers inappropriate for one's child?
Little wonder then that some parents are excited about the idea of SalamWorld, pitched as a halal version of Facebook and a safe environment for respectable interaction. It aims to sieve out improper advertisements, and even culturally and religiously inappropriate behaviour and communication. If it functions as planned, it will be akin to a village where everyone plays a role in bringing up a child. A bit stifling perhaps; but a godsend to people who find the cyberworld too big and too much beyond their control. However, regardless of who else might be looking out for the children, this does not absolve parents from the absolute responsibility of ensuring their children's wellbeing. For, nothing can substitute enforced rules, a proper inculcation of values, and stringent and consistent parental monitoring and guidance.