I thought that Cary did a wonderful job of dealing with her son's distress. She was there for him without pressuring him, and eventually he was able to open up and unload a bit. He knows that she cares and he has a safe place to bring up difficult issues.
Cary knows what is going on with her child and while it is distressing that she can't control everything in his environment, she is better off knowing than not knowing.
Her article brings up a very real and pressing issue-children's access to computers. As parents we tend to think of the computer as an educational medium, something that we are happy our children are spending time with. We might feel that they are technologically savvy and this makes us feel good as well. We have all heard by now how TV may be harmful to kids, so we prefer that they spend time with the computer.
I think it is time for responsible parents to seriously evaluate what their kids are doing at the computer. How many hours a day are they "zoned out" playing computer games? How much time do they spend hooked up to the Internet? When they are on the Internet, what are they doing? Is chat a good thing, opening up new worlds for our kids, or is it a place where they are being exposed to things we might rather shelter them from? Are they visiting age appropriate sites or being exposed to sex and violence in ways that most of us can't even imagine?
Cary suggests installing a software program to screen certain Internet sites as one way of dealing with the problem of inadvertent access to porno sites. Talking with our children about what is out there, and what our expectations of them are might be a first step in bringing the issues out of the closet. If we have not been aware until now about what our kids are doing, certainly asking them about their favorite sites, chats, etc, and asking to "go there" with them might be a good idea.
I think it is wise to consider the computer as similar to the TV. There are some very positive aspects to both. But as a parent, it is important to know what our kids are watching and doing. Spending time with them while they are watching TV or surfing the net is an ideal way to educate yourself, create a bond with your child and begin communicating about some of the ideas, events, and people that enter your child's life.