My son was on our computer. It was late and we were cleaning up after dinner. He asked if he could watch Lego videos on YouTube and I let him. After a few minutes I took a break from cleaning and I walked in and looked over his shoulder. He was watching some violent Lego video with Lego people killing each other and blood flying everywhere. It was quite an interesting video someone had loaded onto YouTube. Quickly I look over to the side panel of the YouTube screen to find a more suitable video and there on the sidebar were some sexually inappropriate videos up.
I was mad.
I was thankful. Glad that I discovered those inappropriate videos before he went over and perused the sidebar for more videos.
In a matter of seconds, he would’ve been thrust into a world that we’ve been protecting his little eyes and innocence from. I am not naive. I realize that at some point in my boys’ lives they will at some level come across pornography. But it’s my job to teach them to make wise choices. For now I will wear my mama bear hat and protect them from the awful world that exploits humans as mere objects of pleasure.
Whether you have boys or girls it’s important to set up some safety computer guidelines for your children. The internet can be entertaining, educational and rewarding, but it can also involve navigating through some challenges as your children explore the world wide web. Below I will discuss five tips for online safety and because I am discussing safety issues, I will mostly be focusing on the negatives of the online world. This in no way reflects my love for technology, but it does reflect my love for my children and my desire to keep your children and mine, safe.
1. Talk to them and explore the internet together. Let them know that you’re a safe place for them to come and talk through anything that they may happen to come across or have questions about (even if it was inappropriate). You especially want them talking to you if they have viewed something inappropriate on accident or out of curiosity. Discuss the risk involved and agree on some rules for navigating the internet in a safe way. Explore the internet together and let them know what sites they are able to navigate on their own. Make sure they know to never share personal information: full name, address, telephone, credit card info., the name of their school, photos…
2. Come up with a plan. Discuss what you would do if something inappropriate crosses their paths on the screen. Come up with a plan on how they should handle computer time when at a friend’s house. Not everyone has the same values as you do, even if they are your best friends.
3. Computer location. Set your computer in a central location in your home where it’s not private.
4. Set up safety modes. Filters for your computer are great, especially if you constantly find yourself busy and not able to monitor your child’s computer time. You can also set your YouTube on Safety Mode, but note that this safety mode still may not catch all the inappropriate content. There are filters like Safe Eyes, Covenant Eyes or X3 Watch that you can use not only on your computer, but also on your mobile devices. Check the manual on the mobile devices to see if there are safety modes that you can set on them.
5. Set up guidelines for social networks, email and chat rooms. – Depending on their age and circumstances, you may want to ask to befriend them on social networks and request their passwords. Sexual predators frequent social networks and chat rooms, sometimes posing as a child just waiting for the naive young internet user to prey on. Cyber bullying is a very real problem among children. Not only this, but also if something were to happen to your child and you felt like their social network account would help you answer questions as to their whereabouts, the networks would not be able to give you your own child’s account and password information.
My biggest advice to parents is even if you don’t care for any of the social networks your kids are on, please, the least you can do is learn about them so you’re in the know. In all the years I have had a Facebook account, I’ve had to go in and change my settings back to private because all of a sudden they change to public and everyone has access to my information.
What precautions do you take?
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