Thursday, August 29, 2013

Internet Safety: A Warning to Parents & 10 Helpful Tips

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?

Encouraged here?

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Cher Marie said...

This article is much needed in the culture that we live... and yes, even in Christian homes. Our young children, specifically our young boys/men need guidance. They need to be spoken to and protected from the garbage that is luring everywhere. They need consistent and loving words of reminder to beware of the lust within and the women that Proverbs 7 warns about... "Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,”
And call understanding your nearest kin,
5 That they may keep you from the immoral woman,
From the seductress who flatters with her words... A young man devoid of understanding,
8 Passing along the street near her corner;
And he took the path to her house
9 In the twilight, in the evening,
In the black and dark night.
10 And there a woman met him,
With the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart.
11 She was loud and rebellious,
Her feet would not stay at home.
12 At times she was outside, at times in the open square, Lurking at every corner."
There are filters on our computers that we must be aware of. If you use Google, you can go here... and use Google Safe Search filter. I also use a company called HedgeBuilders. Our young men and older men need accountability and we can help them find that accountability from "the women that are constantly lurking". We need to teach our sons to love our Lord with all their hearts and to seek accountability themselves when they leave our homes. Blessings to you dear mothers that are trying to protect their families.

Anonymous said...

The filters are good but be sure you dont relax because you have much can get tgrough tgem!

Teach law and gospel. one day they wont have our help and need a desire to protect tgemselves and honor tge Lord...not to mention future family tgey could destroy.

Chris said...

Thank you for sharing the back story and the 10 tips ( most of which I need to implement.)

Excellent post.

God bless

Mary said...

If your children go to school, you will be asked to sign a form giving your children permission to use the internet. This form will assure you that your child will be monitored. Don't believe it. They say that, but in reality, they don't monitor. The teachers step out of the room and the children look at what they want, and frequently, there are no filters. Don't sign the form unless you know they will actually be monitored (maybe you can volunteer to be a parent monitor).

Jannette Thrasher said...

Thank you for sharing. I'm going to print this out.

Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this. The internet has an advantage and a disadvantage. One advantage is that it will help your kids learn about a lot of things. This also carries a disadvantage because it may introduce bad notions to your children. Take cyber bullying for example. I am glad that there are many parents who are vigilant about their children's use of the internet.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this article... what I struggle with is knowing how much to interfere. I don't want them to feel that I don't trust them either.

Another thing, I hate to get off course here but I was wondering if you could tell me what cursive font you used for the title of this post.. it's beautiful :)

Ms.Tierra said...

Great post, well written and an excellent reminder to us moms to be vigilant!~ God bless

Anonymous said...

Uh don't believe the person who said Schools have no filters. Because I went to public school and we couldn't get on more than Disney Channel and Cartoon Network. Google was turned on the highest safety level too. So yeah no nude pictures at least until the statue of David, pre catholics who wanted to cover everything.

Anonymous said...

Lead by example and do not keep it secret when you discover your husband is using. Rat them all out and make it public. Not doing it enables them to continue on in their sin. When children are caught they need to be ratted out too. Why? Cos they need to know they will be caught and carry the weight of sin BEFORE they grow up to ruin and destroy their families who had no idea.


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