In India, culture dictates a lot of what we do and how we behave. But the internet has opened up heretofore unavailable avenues for access, expression, exploration, learning, community and leisure.
While many of us are still in awe of the access and power the internet provides, the new generation was born right into this freedom.
Like the real world, the online world comes with its risks, and there are bound to be conflicts. But new restrictions are fertile grounds for old hierarchies to latch on. A finer and more critical balance between culture and the internet needs to be arrived at. When engaging with children on the internet, adults need to pause and think- am I acting in the best interest of the child or am I shying away from having a difficult and long conversation?
The instruments of laws, policies and curriculums attempt to tap into and hone the potential of every child. But the adults whose station it is to contemplate these issues may forget or ignore the fact that ‘potential’ is inextricably wrapped up in the mysteries of childhood. When they refuse to engage with this natural curiosity of children, they alienate the child and put them at risk.
If every child today is to reach their full potential, then stakeholders, policymakers, communities and families, both online and offline, must affirm and engage with the whole of childhood.