Earlier this week I shared an article about Internet Access & Our Children and received a sobering reminder from a mom who had a personal story to share with the rest of us. She warns us with the following:
"None of my children even have a cell phone, (my oldest daughter is going to be 18) and I am a homeschool mom who has always been very careful about monitoring computer time as well as setting boundaries, but in our very own home, as a homeschool mom, I wasn't careful enough.
We had an old computer that I was certain wasn't even getting internet access, ( my husband as well) and so I became lax about monitoring it, (this was several years ago.) I wasn't lax about the amount of time they spent on it. (Normally each only got one-two hours a week.)
But apparently, there was a way to get internet access that I wasn't aware of.
Because my children have always been sheltered from the majority of the garbage out there, I had no worries, but one day I felt a strong sense of dread come over me, after reading an article on children and internet porn.
So I decided to check the history and to my horror, not only were the children getting internet, but my dear son, (who was only 11 at the time), had found and was looking at hard core porn.
I was so sick and broken over this. It was devastating to know that his innocence, which we worked so hard at preserving was gone and those horrific images were now firmly planted in his head.
He was also beginning to sneak times, like early in the morning when I wasn't up yet and such, all because I thought that the internet was broken. (It certainly was every time I tried to use that old computer, but kids are smart and sometimes savvier than we adults.)
I am sharing this because I am one of those moms who thought I was careful enough, but wasn't.
As a family who got a steady diet of Little House on the Prairie and was very choosy about what and how many movies we watched, I naively thought this was above us.
We now have lots of safety measures on our new computer as well as passwords, but I now know that even those measures aren't enough.
There is no substitute for vigilance. NONE."
I want to take a moment to thank this mom for her courage in sharing this important story with us and the rest of the world. I definitely believe that we need to take every precaution to keep children safe from the dangers and temptations the internet has to offer.
Here are 10 Online Safety Tips to help you:
1. Keep the Computer in a Public Area--Use the computer where family is walking by and keeping an eye on the screen. Don't have them use it closed off in a room or alone where they can't be monitored.
2. Limit Time Online--Parental controls that are password protected allow us to set the amount of time desired and shut down when we want. If they want additional time parents can log them in when desired. Some families have a rule of only X amount of time per day, week or month.
3. Have a Buddy System-- It is good if they have you or an older sibling to sit with them and watch over what they are doing, it can add increased accountability. They will be less likely to do things they shouldn't with an extra pair of eyes on them.
4. Know what they are Doing Online--Don't be afraid to ask or know, this is your computer, your home, you are paying the bills, and you are the parent. This is your business---FIND OUT!
5. Know Passwords and Check Accounts--Many parents know the passwords to their children's Facebook and other social networks. They also have random days they check account activity, messages, check who they are connected with (good or bad influences), history, and so forth. Exercise safety knowing that there are online predators and cyberbullies out there, Covenant Eyes would also a good program to look into for accountability too as well as Circle as a parental control/filter.
6. Keep Communication Open--Children and teens are still young and have not always fully learned discernment. Talk about what is acceptable to do online and what is not. Always discuss and have ongoing conversations about what is going on (pictures or updates friends may be posting, blogs they may be reading) and know what they are tapping into. Also be wise, a young child does not need to be on Facebook just because everyone else is--don't cave in to pressure!
7. Encourage Productive Online Time--Instead of wasting time social networking or playing video games try to encourage them to be productive online! They can embark on educational projects, research, ministry work, school work, create family videos and newsletters, writing projects, etc.
8. Limit Sites and Social Media--There is no way you can be everywhere checking up on what they are doing (especially all the time) so you might want to limit the sites they go on. The Duggar family does this and explains more in their first book. From what I recall they limit web browsing to about 100 pre-approved sites with the majority of the sites being Christian. If you don't take this approach be sure to use filters and more filters.
9. Safety with Other Devices--If you have other devices that connect online remember to use safety with those too. You might want to use a screen lock that is protected by a password on adult cell phones or tablets to prevent a child from stumbling onto something they shouldn't. I am sure there are plenty of parents out there who didn't take the extra precaution and found out Jimmy had full access on other devices. And if kids own their own personal cell phones, iPods, or gameboxes, you will want to restrict access on these outlets too.
Another thing I should mention is an article I read the other day about a mom who found out that her children's friend were visiting their home and going into their kid's room and showing them inappropriate pictures on their cell phone. Now this mom doesn't allow friends to take their cell phones in the house and asks that they all be kept at the kitchen table (I think she also doesn't have them go in the bedroom either!).
10. Avoid it All Together--In this day in age it is very hard to avoid the internet which is why I have given you the tips above. However, there are still many families that have purposefully avoided giving their children access online or to social networks and managing just fine. This may be an option for your family as well. Pray and ask the Lord what is the best fit for your family and then obey!
What would you add to this list?
Note: This post contains affiliate links--thanks for your support!