For the last couple of weeks, Doodicus had been going to the daycare because school was out for winter break. He didn’t complain because his best friend was also going during break so he had him to play with, not to mention other kids he knew were also on break. We allowed him to bring his Nintendo DS because his friend, David, had one, too and they could play multi-player. However, after Christmas, Dood asked if he could bring his ipod instead as David had received one as a present.
From the time he got it a year ago, I have been quite clear with both Dood and his dad that he is not allowed to bring his ipod to daycare or school because it would be too much of a distraction. He’s snuck games for his DS he wasn’t suppose to and subsequently, has lost them, more than once. I should also remind you that he’s used his ipod to get on-line and watch videos he should not be watching. In short, he hasn’t earned our trust to be allowed to bring anything but his DS to daycare.
Dood mentioned to me this past Thursday that David had brought his ipod and somehow they had been able to access the wifi while playing in the nearby school’s gym (the church runs that elementary school and the daycare). I didn’t think much of it until a few hours later when it was time for bed and he asked me to sit with him for a while. He NEVER asks me to stay with him at night so I knew something was bothering him. He finally told me that when David had access to the internet, they looked up videos, including one that was about the paranormal character, Slender Man, and now he was afraid of the dark.
After about ten minutes of sitting on his bed, I got up to leave and he begged me to turn on his room lights (he already had on his bedside lamp). I was annoyed about with his anxiety, explaining that he had brought this onto himself and now he was going to have to suck it up. Yes, I am the meanest mom.
At first I was especially angry with David and was this close to calling his mom, who I am friends with on Facebook. Dood ended up out of his room several times begging me to let him stay up, which I denied, and I even was able to ignore the sobbing I heard from his room right before he finally dropped off to sleep. Instead of contacting David’s mom, I emailed the daycare Director, asking why the school did not have secure internet.
I received his response today and I can’t say I’m at all satisfied.
Thank you for communicating with me about your concern. First, I will address the school policy. The school has multiple groups and visitors that need access to wifi for presentations etc. Based on the difficulty with getting each group a password they have opted away from using a locked wifi system. They also have a policy for the students in which they feel that teaching them responsibility with the internet rather then locking it and them spending time trying to hack in is a good practice. They believe that the kids will have access as they grow and they need to get into good self discipline practices regarding the use. Kids at the school also only use school approved equipment with teachers monitoring use so that is why it works. As for us since kids in our care only use hand held devices it is impossible to fully monitor use. That is why this fall we put a rule in place not allowing any internet capable devices to be used. Over Christmas I relaxed on this a bit since most of the older kids had not been with us and it was something they enjoyed together. It was explained to them that wifi access was not allowed and only to use things they currently have. This was a mistake on my part. Helping Hands will stick to the policy of no internet capable devices being used from here on as this was my main fear. This is all very important as we try to teach children responsible and careful use of this great tool. Like I said I appreciate your communication as it brings to light for me why we instituted the rule in the first place. I apologize for [Dood] having anxiety over it. Please let him know that if he is ever uncomfortable in any way he can address that with me and I will make sure to handle it in such a way as to not embarrass him or make him feel as if he was telling on his friends.
I certainly agree that kids need to “get into good discipline practices” but that’s not something all kids are able to do using their common sense and their moral compass (hahahaha!). If that was true, then these kids wouldn’t need monitoring at all and I’d have to ask for a refund on the daycare’s fee I paid to have my son under their supervision for two weeks.
I have not yet addressed this with David’s mom, either, but I know I’m going to have to sooner or later. I want to talk it over with Dood first and I haven’t seen him since I got the response above from the Director. I think he needs to understand that what his friend was doing was indeed against the rules, and unfortunately it reinforces my stance that devices that he could use to access the internet are off-limits if he’s not under our direct supervision.
We can replace a broken screen and lost games (once he’s earned the necessary funds), but I can never replace the inappropriate information he’s already seen with less violent or less scary images. I can’t keep him under wraps forever, but I don’t have to push him into this often time callous and insensitive society, either.