SOLE: A Parent’s View

Something’s changed in our house recently… internet use by my children is fractionally less gaming and on-demand tv and more educational. There’s been an internet revelation and I think that’s down to SOLE being used at my children’s school.

Unlike my generation, today our children are surrounded by constant online connectivity and like many parents I worry about the detrimental effects of continual access to the internet. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not an internet luddite, in fact I love the internet, but I do worry that my children aren’t using it effectively. One barrier is that from an early age we, rightly so, teach our children about the potential dangers of the internet but we don’t necessarily teach them how amazing the internet can be when used safely. My husband and I are great at modelling how to use the internet for managing the mundane aspects of our lives – banking, utility bills, grocery shopping – hardly inspiring stuff, so it’s no wonder that all our boys used the internet for was gaming and tv where they are “safe”.  But recently there has been a slight shift towards a more enriching use.

My 10 year old son, Arthur, has a fascination with the  natural world, in particular Space, which he shares with his grandfather. There is a constant email stream between the two of them and to my delight Arthur can now be regularly found searching through the NASA and ESA websites looking for answers to questions posed by his grandad, relishing when he teaches his grandad something new. For me it has also been lovely watching their relationship grow (and who’d have thought that the internet could facilitate that?) SOLE talks about its Cloud Grannies but don’t dismiss all the Cloud Grandads out there.

Then there’s my 8 year old son, Olly, who is obsessed with all things farming. A little while ago I found him very upset in his bedroom. It had dawned on him that his dream of one day owning a farm was “impossible because we don’t have enough money to buy one”. We agreed that this was true, farms do indeed cost more that his dad and I could afford, however his dream was not necessarily over and I went on to explain about banks and loans and business plans. Tears stopped, job done, good mum! Later that day I found Olly at the kitchen table on my tablet, surrounded by writing paper and farming magazines. He was very busy writing his farm business plan. Using his SOLE-acquired internet skills and confidence he had looked up what exactly a farm business plan entailed and was researching and compiling a list of set-up costings. I was amazed and very proud of him.

So I would like to say a big thank you to SOLE and to my children’s teachers. Through regular SOLE sessions at school my boys have learnt that the internet can be a valuable learning tool and they have acquired the skills and confidence to use the internet for more enriching purposes than just gaming and tv (although they do still feature highly!)

Becca Clarkson, UK (proud mum of Olly & Arthur)