Parental censorship often backfires

Social media apps Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on a handphone.
Social media apps Facebook, Instagram and Twitter on a handphone. PHOTO: ST FILE

No decent parent would disagree with Dr Terence Teo Li Yang's assertion in his Forum letter (Parents play vital role in teenagers' social media exposure, April 9).

Dr Teo suggested that parents should "censor, to the best of their ability, inappropriate and dangerous information on the Internet". But how, exactly? This is something that leaves most parents feeling lost and helpless.

If censorship really worked, film censors would long have provided effective examples for parents to emulate. Parents have to only think back to their own younger days to see how parental censorship often backfired, making forbidden fruit all the more tempting.

Instead, parents should take the time to get to know their children, listen to them without prejudice and let them ask awkward questions without overreacting.

But do parents have the time and energy to do all that given the demands of modern life?

We should take the adage that "it takes a village to raise a child" seriously.

Social climate and political will are both essential in helping parents raise exemplary citizens.

Thomas Lee Hock Seng (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2019, with the headline 'Parental censorship often backfires'. Print Edition | Subscribe