Theater of Cruelty

Children's digital use

We lose our children!
Forfatter: Silke Müller
Forlag: Droemer Verlag, (Tyskland)
INTERNET / Are we here presented with 224 pages of panic attacks?


The title of this book means "We are losing our children!" in Norwegian. It's a title that creates fear and attracts attention, especially if you're a parent yourself, like me.

As principal of a German school with approximately 850 children and young people, Silke Müller writes about her daily confrontations with school children Online. She writes about dick pics, animal cruelty, bullying and racism – which our children are exposed to online on a daily basis. All this also existed before the digital age. The difference is that on the internet it stays forever, and that you can be exposed to it around the clock. Screenshots are shared in seconds and can circulate on several social media at the same time. We have WhatsApp, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Messenger and Instagram, to name a few.

Eating disorders, depression, self-harm and pornography are just a click away.

Eating disorders, depression, self-harm and pornography are just a click away. But what can we do? How can we protect our children? Is it even possible?


The world is constantly changing. We live in a different time now than before. It is impossible to protect our children from the reality they live and grow up in. If we try to protect them, we isolate them from reality, which is not to their advantage. Müller's generation may resent the development and say that everything was better before, when they themselves were children. But all was not better before. It's not necessarily better now either. Parents today have different challenges than parents in the past.

Müller's book makes us aware that we must not lose touch with reality to our children – who grow up both analogue and digitally. Which in and of itself is good. Taking away the children's mobile phones and demonizing the internet is no solution, she emphasizes. It's good that we agree on that.

German surveillance mentality

Müller calls for responsibility, especially in schools. "All schools should have an advice session on social media, with competent contact persons", she writes in the penultimate chapter, "What is needed now", under the heading "Ideas and tips for everyday life". It is the only point I agree with out of the entire 11 points (!) she lists.

We must not doubt everything that is foreign or new to us.

Too much interference is not healthy either childrenand ours. The book bears the stamp of a German surveillancementality, which I strongly distance myself from. We must leave our children free and able to trust their own judgement-
Power. All the experience and flow of information they are exposed to from an early age can also turn them into enlightened adults. We must not doubt everything that is foreign or new to us.

The Internet is not a big, ugly monster. There are lots of positive things about our digital society, which makes our children more globalized and connected. The global world community gives our children a sense of security and community in a completely different way than before. National borders are blurred online. We are one people, and that is positive!

On the internet, there are lots of inspirational and learning videos that convey knowledge in an exciting and innovative way. The school has lost the power it had before, and will not be the only learning arena for our children. Maybe this is what Müller worries about? That the schools lose control over knowledge and information, and thus their position of power in the children's lives?

Teachers who belong to the old school, like Müller, must adapt and be more open to developments and newer times. Introducing a whole range of measures to be able to control children's digital use is not the way to go.

Even if resources are used to introduce a lot of measures, it will not produce the expected results. Müller must rather deal with reality and trust that our children have good judgment and can grow up to be wise, if not wiser, adults than Müller's generation.

Trust, adaptation, openness, insight and guidance are the way to go. Not a shock title and 224 pages with , nod#angst. But I can understand that the book strikes a chord with parents and teachers who are unsure about children's media use – which the majority are.

Pinar Ciftci
Pinar Ciftci
Ciftci is a journalist and actor.

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