Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Technology Parenting

Yes, its been 100 years since I have blogged.  I get that- I can't imagine that you missed me much, and that's okay.  I have been happily enjoying our active, to-the-point-of-insanity family.  Not complaining, I wouldn't change it for the world!  Although, I will get back to the family.  Right now?  I have a soap box to climb.   Back to family life later.

*Stepping onto soap box*

My heart is aching for the generation that many of us are raising today.
My heart aches for the kids. 

My heart aches for the parents.

Parenting isn't new.  Parenting isn't perfect.  Parenting has always had its share of challanges.  For centuries, people have made choices for their famililes and often wondered if those choices were for the best or if they were ultimately screwing up their kids for life. 

I do feel, however, that today we as parents have to take it to a whole new level.  Why?

Social Media and the Internet.

If you have an older elementary student or middle school student that has access to the internet and you aren't proactive in monitoring them, chances are......YOU ARE WAY BEHIND.

If your child has a smart phone that you do not monitor....YOU ARE WAY BEHIND.

If you think Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all you have to worry about.....YOU ARE WAY BEHIND. 

Here in our crazy household, 2 of our kids have smartphones.  Along with the cell phones, we have Cell Phone Contracts.  These serve as tangible evidence of expectations and reminders of the privledges of cell phone use. 

I cannot stress enough how happy I am that we set this in motion.  Because we made cell phone and internet usage "all public access" in our home, we have been able to train our kids in what is/is not appropriate.  This includes, but is not limited to: texts, emails, photos, language, and social media.  (So many social media sites are specifically set up to MEET STRANGERS.  Its not just to connect to friends anymore, folks.)  

I spend about 30 minutes per evening checking phones/computers for that day's activity (our kids have a set time to turn in devices).  I even spot read texts.  Oh yes, I do. See, this isn't for the purpose of control or spying.  Kids will be kids.  But when we were growing up, kids were mean and caddy face to face or in a note.  Today? That translates into the world wide web.....

for ALL to see (comment, repost, etc.)....


Have you read that meme that reads, "So glad I did all my stupid 'stuff' before the internet"?    You know, so that now people cannot see it or bring it back for all to see???   Well guess what- your sons and daughters will have to worry about that.  
~I wonder if that got the attention of the readers that think I am crazy or overbearing?  
Most nights I check everything and go about my night.  Sure, I see things I don't like, but unless it crosses into a certain gray area, I let it go.  Again- not about control.   But I will tell you, we have found many opportunities to talk to and train our kids.  Luckily, I have been able to use other kids' bad choices as an illustration.  But make no mistake, there have been evenings when I found my heart breaking over something that was posted/sent to one of my kids.  Even worse- when its my kids that send/post something hurtful to someone else.

Unfortunately, social media is just a small part of the Internet. 

I read a blog the other day entitled, "Google- the new sex ed".  
Did you gasp?   I actually didn't.   But since I couln't remember where the blog came from, I Googled it.  Ironic, huh?    Seems there have been many articles written on that same subject.  Turns out that, instead of asking a parent or other human being, now kids are searching the internet for all things pertaining to sex.   What do you think the result of that may be?? Yep. Porn. 

If I didn't get your attention earlier, do I have it now???? 

Its no longer young boys that find a magazine hidden somewhere between the mattresses or the garage.  Nope.  Now its 24/7, 365 days a year, at the fingertips of any young boy or girl who are looking.  Even if they are only looking to answer a very natural question about sex.  I hope I don't have to tell you the ripple effect from there and the immense dangers of addiction.

Parents need to wake up and start being proactive.  Every week lately I have had a conversation with a parent that has admitted to not being proactive and knowing what is going on with their kids and the cyberworld.  Breaks.My.Heart.

See, for every time I am thankful that I have found "teachable situations" for my kids through their devices, I also have found myself in tears with heartbreak that some of these lessons have to happen so soon or at all.  While the earth physically isn't any bigger than when we were growing up, for our kids and the internet......its wide open.  More than most of you parents understand.

Trust me- THEY ARE HEARING IT FROM THEIR PEERS whether they are asking for it or not, whether you know it or not!!  Start talking to your younger ones and open the communication lines.  Talk to other parents and learn what you may not know. 

*Stepping down from soap box*

There you have it in the smallest nutshell I could muster. 
There will be those that don't agree.  So be it.  I don't totally agree with others all the time either.  But don't waste your time to read and then criticize.  I won't argue and debate.  My blog, my views.
If there is even one parent that reads this and is able to make a positive difference for their young adult, then I have accomplished much. It really does take a village.

And a full reliance on the One who entrusted me with this duty.

Proverbs 22:6 "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn away from it."

Proverbs 4:23 "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life"

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