There is a particular banner ad that has been popping up on RedHotPawn of late. It’s a woman in a bikini with an ample bosom and come hither look. It has inspired at least a couple comments back and forth in the chess games I’m playing.
To my surprise, I noticed one of the flash games sites Linus likes to play on has the very same banner ad. Actually, I didn’t notice the banner; Jane did, and asked me if that was really appropriate for Linus to view. When I looked at the screen to see what she was talking about I couldn’t believe it. “It’s her,” I thought. To Linus’s credit he seemed completely immersed in his game and seemed oblivious to her charms. I suppose at age 7 that should be the case, although I forget at what age I started to notice those things and it’s hard to gauge what would be interesting to him at this point.
I started to talk to him about banner ads, and what they were, and why he should avoid them at all costs. He said he had only clicked on one, which offered him a choice of a new cursor. He mentioned a banner that had a countdown, and a message that he needed to click the counter before it expired to win an iPod. He said the counter made him a bit nervous, but since he didn’t know what an iPod was he didn’t click it.
Linus’s proficiency with browsers is growing daily. I don’t think he knows how to use a search engine yet, but it’s only a matter of time. I’m not currently concerned about him getting places on the internet he shouldn’t, but at some point we’re going to need a strategy. It’s relatively easy to end up places kids shouldn’t be, even if they start out at a seemingly innocent site. My general philosophy is anti-censorship and anti-control, and given that he knows the (very) general facts of life, it’s probably not going to be the end of the world if in the next two years he happens to see a risque photo or two.
But there’s risque, and there’s beyond that, and the internet makes no distinctions. I have to admit I’m at a real loss for how to deal with this without compromising my core philosophy of choosing education and awareness over sheltering and control.