I sat poolside at the hotel while my husband was in meetings. A mom with two small children soon arrived to swim. The two-year-old wanted to swim alone, which she was incapable of doing. She screamed while her older sister played happily in the pool. When they got out of the water, Mom handed the older girl her cell phone to watch something or play a game while she wrestled the unhappy toddler. After she dried and calmed her toddler, Mom asked the older daughter for her phone so she could call room service and order some food. The five-year-old threw a tantrum that it was her game and her phone! Ah, the innocence of youth…yeah, right!
I’m glad I’m not raising kids in this day and age. Navigating the technological landscape as a parent is challenging at best. It’s an excellent tool, but there’s also the dark underbelly lurking just one click away.
I’ve heard from many moms, some I’m related to, that aren’t sure just how much or how little to trust their kids to use smartphones or computers. Parents are children’s greatest advocates and I want to offer a few suggestions how to keep your kids safe on the Internet.
First, a few questions:
- Where do your kids access the Internet?
- If they use a computer at home, is it in a family area of the house (kitchen, family room, living room) where the screen is visible to others?
- Are there filters installed on all devices used by family members?
- Are you familiar with the latest apps kids are using to chat with their friends?
- What are your family rules about the kids using the Internet?
Parenting isn’t easy. It never was and it never will be. One of my extended family members recently heard from their grade school aged children that kids at school were sending nude photos of themselves using an app on a smartphone. These were not adults or teens, we’re talking about children under age 11! More than 30% of data transferred on the Internet is pornographic. 50% of males and 31% of females are exposed to porn by age 12. The statistics are astounding and the importance of protecting our kids is vital.
Three things you can do now:
- Discuss the above questions with your family.
- Come up with some guidelines of what is appropriate and what isn’t. Perhaps use the contract which is linked below as inspiration for your own parent/child contract.
- Keep communication open with your kids. You want them to come to you with questions about sexuality, stuff their classmates do or talk about, and you want them to feel safe and loved, no matter what.
If you have further questions, please feel free to email me. I’ve included a few resources for you to check out. I hope you find them helpful.
Helpful resources for parents:
iParent.TV is a website offering the latest reviews on various apps, the Internet, social media and other technological topics. They also will send you free resources to help you manage technology in your home with your kids.
Touchy Subjects, by Craig Gross and David Dean. The authors are both dads to younger kids. I received the book for free in exchange for a review which is posted here. This book is a good resource for parents with children of any age.
The PluggedIn.com website offers guidelines and reviews of movies, television, and music. Rather than reading it yourself, teach your kids how to access it and make decisions based on what they read.
Common Sense Media website has loads of information for parents and educators with ratings and reviews of apps, games, and websites among other things.
National Association of School Psychologists has a free sample contract between parents and kids regarding Internet safety.
Women for Decency offers helpful articles about how to talk with your kids about porn, sex, and related topics on this website.
X3Watch is filtering software for all of your devices and is reasonably priced. Sign up through their website and receive a discount.
Covenant Eyes has a variety of Internet filtering software plans and accountability options.