Remember what it used to consist of? I do. For me, it involved sitting down at my Commodore 64 and typing in a bunch of DOS codes in order to access my software. It meant floppy disks, incredibly loud dot matrix printers, and the use of a joystick in order to play computer games (which would always cause my eyes to cross after focusing on those one-dimensional images for too long). As a kid, technology was primitive at best, right?
But not anymore.
These days we’re raising our children in the midst of technology-driven world. From social media to online gaming sites, from cell phones to Ipads, it’s a completely different environment from the one we grew up in. It’s crazy! But as out of control as this realm appears to have become, it’s our job as parents to figure out how to navigate it. And it’s a domain that often times, many of us don’t completely understand ourselves.
So, how can we protect our kids?
As a mom to two boys (ages four and eight), let me just tell you that I have certainly struggled with this issue as of late. Thankfully, my youngest son has yet to show an interest in the computer (unless it’s to participate in an Elmo adventure or two), but my eldest boy? Well, he’s reached the age of Internet exploration. He’s looking to check out the latest and greatest in Tech Deck tutorials on You Tube and the likes. He’s interested in playing games, watching skateboarding videos, and discovering the most up-to-date tricks he can perform on his BMX bike. His motives are innocent, but the playing field in which he’s toying with is definitely not.
You see it just takes a second, just one wrong peck on the keyboard and boom(!), your boy has the potential of being thrust into a very adult world. Unfortunately, I learned this lesson the hard way (a few months back) after allowing my pre-tween to access You Tube. Rather than learning of a new bike trick, he was introduced to pornography instead. Yep. He involuntarily stumbled upon (and into) a world I never wanted him to know about.
Gosh, my anxiety creeps up and in each time I recollect this incident. It’s upsetting, it’s infuriating…but as a mom what I’ve realized from this instance is that I’ve got to do a better job of protecting him from such images. It’s up to me to safeguard my electronic devices, implement better guidelines, and prep my kids against the harm that lurks there, waiting to be discovered.
Here are a few suggestions that you and your family can apply in order to promote safer technology practices both in and outside of your home:
1.) Computer Central: Move your computer to a central location within your home. Get it out of the back room or office and put it in a place where your family spends most of its time. If you have an Ipad or Kindle, the same thing applies. Make sure your computer and the technology your kids are accessing are within your sights and being monitored…often.
2.) Get Guidelines: Whether it’s the Ipad, the cell phone, or the family computer, make sure you have a list of rules that each of your children are aware of (and agree to abide by) when it comes to their use of technology. Stick to these guidelines, continue to monitor their internet activity diligently, and don’t waiver.
3.) When the Kids are Away…yes, they may just play. Make sure that you are in communication with your children’s friends (and their parents). If your son’s headed over for a sleepover (or to play at a friend’s house), insist that they’re not allowed to use the computer unless an adult is present. Keep communication lines open with your children and the parents of their friends at all times because when it comes to Internet safety, being known as the super strict parent isn’t such a bad thing, eh? And it’s always better to be safe rather than sorry. Basically, you need to make sure that your preferences are known and respected. Period.
4.) Talk Amongst Yourselves: There are a number of parental controls/software you can install on your computer (have you checked out http://www.covenanteyes.com yet?), but why not go one step further? Discuss (in an age-appropriate manner) some of the activity that transpires on the Internet, why it’s necessary to implement rules for their safety, etc. Help them to understand the need for such things. Check out these resources to assist you:
5.) Sign Says: This idea comes directly from my pastor and is one I’ve deemed too clever not to pass on. Make a small plaquard for every technological device in your home and inscribe it with the following message:
“Would Jesus watch this with you?”
Not only will this help our children to really think about their choices, but it will also serve as a great reminder (to all of us) in helping to limit what we watch on television, and what we’re dialed into on the Internet. Accountability, my dear friends.
So now it’s your turn, moms. Tell me, what have you found to be successful as far as monitoring your child’s online activity? What do you still struggle with?