Saturday, December 16, 2006

Maturity Milestones

The law considers you an adult at 18. You can vote. You can watch 'A' films. You can even marry (if you're a girl).

But there are many other milestones which mark one's movement towards maturity. My 7 year old daughter crossed one last week, when she asked for - and got - her very own email id.

I thought we'd let her use it under supervision. But here's what happened. Within two login sessions she had figured it all out. The third time I looked over her shoulder she scolded,"Mummy, don't see my password."

Such is life!

I gave her a short lecture on the importance of sending emails only to people she knows. Like her cousins, mamas and maasis. I gave her the analogy of the park. "You don't take chocolate from strangers, do you?"

But honestly, there's not much I can do. Sometime in the near future she will discover Yahoo messenger or Googletalk and, she could meet anyone online. She may think it's okay to say hello - after all 'hello' is not a chocolate. But hello can lead to anything..

OK, so I sound paranoid. But she is just 7 years old. I remember feeling like a full adult at 16. I thought I knew everything there was to know. I did not want any 'interference'.

For the current generation, the age of 'full adulthood' - in their minds - may be as early as 11 or 12.

Technology is racing ahead of biology. Sure, we will adapt and cope. But there is uncharted territory ahead!


  1. Anonymous4:19 PM

    At the least you are a parent aware of the dangers on Internet.

    For most of the technologically-impaired parents all over the country( or world), the Internet still seems harmless as it is just children 'do' inside their houses where parents live.

    Maybe media needs to make general public aware on the issue of privacy on Internet. Let alone children even adults do stupid things. Just take a look at Orkut and the way personal details and photographs are posted much to the joy of voyeurs.

  2. yes thats the order of the day. the technology is used because its available.

    but still i do think that at times lectures can be given more as an interactive session where u must be ready to face some questions which u obviosuly dont want to face.
    Through this kids can be informed about the harms drawbacks that tachnology can bring if not used the right way.

  3. kids these days are clever, shrewd and responsible! so don't worry.. nothing will go wrong :)

  4. Legal definitions of adulthood are dynamically defined in different times in different societies. In the US you cannot drink till 21, in the UK you can drink at 18 but smoke at 16. We have had debate in the UK about changing the age of consensual relationships, currently set at 16 (see:,,2087-2459775,00.html) but many European countries have a lower age of consent at 14, with Spain at 13.

    What defines being an adult? Responsibility for outcomes? Making tough decisions such as high risk medical treatment (for which see the concept of Gillick Competence in the UK law, which means 2 kids of the same age may not be seen as identical in the eyes of the law, depending on their ability to comprehend an issue - totally subjective)? Something else?

    Technology may open kids to more experiences but it also enables parents to control and monitor things.

    I see you use maturity and adulthood interchangeably - they are not really so tautological..

  5. For that matter, consider the security risks of letting so many strangers (your blog readers) know that you have a 7-year old girl child!

    I think that is a greater risk you as an adult may have already exposed her to, than she might do by discovering chat rooms and Googletalk, no?

  6. Anonymous10:17 PM

    Quite Interesting huh..!!!

  7. Anonymous1:24 AM

    When she's responsible enough not to let you know her password, I think she wouldn't have any problems getting over adolescence. Don't worry, mom!!!

  8. Anonymous4:48 PM

    Seems like mumma's really worried....

  9. Anonymous5:15 PM

    On the contrary it was really a bit strange to go thru ur post. I cant claim to be a regular reader of this amazing blog,but,the issues that u bring up is really interesting.

    Jus yday i went thru one of ur posts which asked for contributions in form of explicit opinions on various networking sites...and one gentleman actually inquired to know if he wud be getting a pay cheque for actually doing that. He he...smiles ...well people may have different and conflicting opinions..but i seriously think what motivates me more than anything else to cut a separate online a lot more from sheer blabbering or any money constraints being doled in.

    Getting back on track the .....well congrats....surely ur wonderful daughter needs to be congratulated for having her own email id now. An online address in form of an email id can surely open u up to a lot more things in life.But the actual question that can be taken up is the amount of supervision that needs to be administered wen young and innocent children actually go online. Whether we end up realizing the correct point to draw a 'this is it baby' line.

    What is freedom if u cant use it? But freedom incorrectly used is definitely freedom killed. To add to it the threats of juvenile abuse,the widely prevalent world of pornography thriving online. Now it gets graver from here.Surely i dont have a child but i think i wud definitely be facing the same DO's and DONT's anytime soon.

    I guess allowing urselves to adjust to change is the only sensible thing to do here. More than that only a correct education in forms of the goods and bads of the online world being taught to the children can go a long way in making themselves aware of the impending threats,and, at the same time ensure that we dont breach on the liberties of our children.

  10. Anonymous7:40 PM

    Indian kids are still nice and under surveillance. I am working in UK for last 3mnths and I go mad looking at the school kids having their own mobiles, mp3 players, and yes make-up kit in their school bags. They mature at the age of single digit.
    But race to be mature is quickly catching among Indian children too and that needs attention.

  11. Hey Rashmi,
    What abt the goa post?

  12. Anonymous8:47 PM

    hey rashmi ..nice post.
    What u have said in this post is true..ppl meet online.. initial hello lead's to daily meetings online ..and before u know u become addicted..but dont worry she is just 7 yrs old..thr is still time !!!..till that time u can relax

  13. Have you considered using a Content filtering, blocking, and monitoring software for children like netnanny ? It is a good idea to use such softwares to protect children from stumbling onto questionable sites.

    I do agree with the suggestion that there should be more awareness around privacy and child-protection issues on the net.

  14. Hey Rashmi, you went underground for that JAMMag fiasco. what happened?

  15. Anonymous6:41 AM

    Hey Rashmi,

    I am an avid reader of your blog. Yes, parents are finding it harder to protect their children from undue influences. And you are wise to take the initiative to guide your children through the challenges that technology throws up.

    I recently ran into an ugly scene where a child-man was abusing his position as a caretaker. One has to be extra cautious to avoid characters like him.

  16. Anonymous10:24 AM

    Two points:

    1> Please reconsider your policy restricting comment facility on your blog to people having accounts on Blogger alone.
    2> Nice post. I know of six and seven year old cousins writing emails to each other(One of them is my daughter). Exposure to net is further unavoidable with school assignments that call for inputs such as pictures which are easily available on the net. I think the whole point is in developing a sense of self care in kids whether it is net or interpersonal interactions of the real kind. Not so easy task, but a parental challenge that we must undertake.

  17. Anonymous5:13 PM

    Hi Rashmi,
    well i am new to this blogger but as i started off i got interested and here i land.
    This post reminds me of days when i paid Rs 50 just to create my mail id in a small town called anantapur in andhra pradesh..alas at the age of 18.
    But see the change, children started using internet at the age of 7!!! so don't worry times have changed and so are children.Let them enjoy the liberty under mom's supervision....God save my mom(she doesn't know how to use internet)...
    don't worry rashmi, ur kid will not mis user her liberty....


  18. spoken like a true mom :)

  19. waiting for your post about Shanti's "gender test"

  20. this couple-friends of mine, in australia, delivered a baby girl in aug this year.. and they got her an email address! i guess they will hand it over to her in merely a couple of years...
    and such is life! :-)


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