| 18.7°C Dublin

NetNanny? I'm going to be the NetMammy from Hell when my boy goes online

MY little boy isn't yet 11 months old, yet, like most babies, he's fascinated with technology.

He loves nothing better than to slam the keys of my laptop and examine my iPhone. He sits on my knee as I trawl through the net and emails.

What will he like by the age of three? Will he be able to turn the laptop on? Will he know the word for this gadget with the flickering screen that his mum and dad seem to be physically attached to?

Maybe, when he's a teenager, he'll ask me if I ever heard of an antediluvian thing called an encyclopedia. In his small world, the internet is literally at his tiny, 11-month-old fingertips.

All the knowledge and information it has to offer him. All of its inaccuracies and pitfalls. All of the danger right there in my sitting room in a gadget I bought and let him use.



WEIRDOS

My mother used to worry about the weirdos that might have been living down the road; used to keep her eyes trained on my sister and myself and on anyone she got a bad feeling about.

She would never have thought that her grandson would be in most danger of encountering perverts and paedophiles, not when he's away from his mother, but when he's in his own home, with mammy right there.

She would have presumed that this was the safest place on earth he could be.

But a report published this week by the ISPCC found that 17pc of secondary students surveyed and 13pc of primary school children said they have given their full name to someone online they had never met.

10pc of the older group admitted to giving personal details, such as email address, mobile number or photos. More than 2,000 (16pc) of the secondary group said they had met up with someone from online.

Just under half of the older group said they used the internet at home in their bedroom (44pc), rather than in a communal area in the home.

Ask yourself what type of person would want a picture, a mobile number and address of a child they had never met? Worrying about so called 'stranger danger' and what we know or should know about the guy living down the road, has diverted attention from the real danger, right in our living rooms.

There is, of course, software such as NetNanny, that parents can install to block children googling certain words or that have a parental filter mechanism. But if you're like my mother or myself, chances are your teenage children will be 10 steps ahead of you, and know how to get round all these technical barriers.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that nothing quite beats a parent taking responsibility.

Like, doing an internet course to get tech savvy, being nosey about what your kids are doing and quizzing them endlessly about what they're looking at and who they're meeting online.

Even though I know it'll irritate my own son, he better get used to NetNannyMammy. She's coming to a sitting room, near me.