Seeing the Internet Through the Eyes of Children

Samvel Martirosyan

Media researcher

As the International Day for Protection of Children was on June 1, I decided to visit local Armenian news sites to see what’s up. I decided to look at the Armenian Internet through the eyes of children.

Try it: imagine that you are 12 or 13 year-old child and you access the internet. Children of this age now freely go online.

Only a small percentage of parents take any sort of measures to filter internet content on their home computer so children won’t have access to adult content.

(If you consider that children should be protected from at least some of this content, then you can become acquainted with a few such parental control tools here [AM], which will ensure at least minimal online safety for children.)

Let’s look at the internet through a child’s eyes. What does the average child in Armenia do online? I assume go to Facebook. Some go to the Russian social networking site Odnoklassniki. I’m not even talking about the fact that at every step, one comes across content with a 18+ label. I don’t know who was the imbecile who invented this label. 

When this label is applied to movies shown in cinemas, it’s done for the ticket-sellers and those standing near the entrance who check the tickets. But a website that applies this label in its newsfeed — for whom does it do this? I assume that the person who uses this label believes that a child is smarter than him and will independently understand that he shouldn’t look at that content. 

Ok, let’s put this aside; this is one of the most obvious things. Besides, a child comes across several blatant lies a day. As you know, sites advertise one thing for “clicks,” but the reality (the actual content) is something completely different. When a child reads a headline, clicking on the story, he finds that grown-ups are simply tricksters and have written something completely different. Admit that at the very least it’s not nice when a child every day since childhood sees a few times a day that adults are lying.

We adults have become accustomed to all this. We still grumble, but we consider it a part of life. But we’re raising a generation that sees from a young age that adults are botchers and only interested in money — from the offline world all the way to the depths of the online space. 

And most importantly: children don’t know what to do online. In the offline world, in some places at least, there are playgrounds (well, if a car park wasn’t needed in a hurry). While in the online world, there is not enough interesting and helpful content in Armenian for children. And what exists is very difficult to find. 

That’s why below you’ll find a few interesting links, so that when children go online they don’t use the internet as we do. Before sharing the links, let me say that besides all this, children must be taught how to search online and not become like us, stuck on Facebook all day. 

And now the links I promised. I’m not going to suggest games or movies: they know where to find these better than I. From Armenian libraries, I propose one of the oldest and the best, Armenianhouse, or Marat Yavrumyan’s huge collection of [Armenian] ebooks (GoodReads link here). 

See also this list of Armenian-language e-libraries [AM] by Armscoop or make use of online Armenian dictionaries [AM], which, it turns out, aren’t few in number. 

Samvel Martirosyan

The views expressed in the column are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Media.am.

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