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Cyber Plague: How to Keep Your Kid Safe

Photo Credit: PhotoXpress & Paul Moore

I recently heard in a class I was attending that kids as young as 5 years old can be addicted to porn.

And yeah, my reaction to that was…Whoa, whoa, whoa, stop right there…rewind…say that again, sir?

Are you serious?

The teacher had my interest peaked. I have a 5 year-old boy.

Ew. What a topic! One I’d like to push under the rug and leave for later or how about never! My kids are too young to have to deal with that crap!

My kids spend a healthy dose of time on the computer, so avoiding this topic isn’t going to do me any good. It’s not a matter of “if” our kids ever get exposed to porn, but a matter of “when.” Our kids are growing up in a different environment than we did as their parents. I played with paper dolls and boxes and built forts in trees. My son came to earth with a brain wired for computers. He loves boxes and trees but he loves electronics too.

I have a love/hate relationship with computers and the internet these days. Sometimes I’d like to unplug from all electronics completely, move to an island and sell fancy coconut drinks for a living. No more computer, no more t.v. no more XBOX, and just kids playing in the sand. Unless I find Neverland, that’s realistically not going to happen. These days you can’t get very far without the internet. It’s a powerful tool and has changed every aspect of how we do things, but it also has a dark side. I haven’t figured out exactly how to balance life with so much computer involvement. But I am realizing that since there is no avoiding it, I might as well do my part to keep my family safe. If I don’t, no one else will.

So, what do we do to keep those curious little minds safe when they are innocently playing on the internet? Here are some tips that may help…

1. Keep communication open with your kids. Talk to them and educate them about the dangers that exist online. That there are people and images to avoid. They need to know the truth and know that they can trust you will listen to them and help keep them safe.

Learning that young kids can be susceptible to sexual addiction was concerning. And I, for one, haven’t educated my kids about any of this yet! I know that I would like to be the one that does it instead of their friends or the internet. This website, can help out with the education part of sexual addiction. The brain science behind addiction is rather fascinating. Check it out to learn more.

2. Set computer rules for your children. Another help is to have the computer screen visible to you so you can monitor what they are doing and perhaps set computer limits (time, time of day, etc…)

3. Install filters for your computer. A great one that is free to use (residential) is the K9 filter from Bluecoat. It allows you to customize personal settings and limitations for individual computers. There is another free filter from Open DNS that can be installed on a router as well. These are both user friendly and come with several options so you can personalize what you allow your kids to see.

These things can all be really helpful, and like I said before, our kids are going to get exposed and if we can talk to our kids about it, we can help them avoid an addiction and other dangers.

And boy-oh-boy I’m speaking to myself here. It would be a lot easier if my kids would stop growing!

I’d love to know your thoughts! Does the internet concern you ever when it comes to your kids? What do you do to keep them safe online?

 

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