I just made the best discovery of my entire holiday season and it is not a gift or a super cool new gadget; it is this Internet Safety Cheat Sheet found on http://www.internetsafetycheatsheet.com/. Jen has put together the most user friendly way for you to protect your children from garbage that so easily filters through on the internet. I am NOT tech savvy at all (ask my husband) and I just put all these filters in place in about 30 minutes and it did not cost me a penny!
She VERY SIMPLY explains how to filter the content on Google, Instagram, iPhone, iPad, Minecraft, Netflix, OpenDNS, Vevo and YouTube. Now, this does not block undesirable content from coming up on your computer, but it does keep it at bay. If you search for the wrong thing on Google, you can still get to it but there is less of a chance that your children will find it with an innocent search. It did completely change my YouTube experience though for which I am especially grateful (no more racy junk on the side bar), and I really appreciated the explanations for my iPhone. Just FYI, this is not a serious filtering system and could easily be bypassed by a tech savvy teen if he or she wanted to.
However, it is a great start for us. With 4 boys in my home, I feel it is my duty to protect not only their physical bodies but their spirits and to raise them into confident men that honor and respect women. I want them to grow into young adults with healthy views of women, relationships, marriage and sexuality so they can one day be incredible partners to the women they love, contributing members of society in a fulfilling profession, and fantastic fathers who strive to teach their children correct principles. Any part I can play in keeping them free from addictions that might compromise their later happiness and fulfillment (or the happiness of their future spouse or children), I am willing to do.
I am grateful for council from church leaders to keep the family computer (and other electronic devices) in a highly visible area and to carefully monitor activity. We try our best to follow this and feel it has blessed our family to remain close and enjoy being together instead of locked away and separate on our tech devices.
I am not naive enough to think that controls and blocks will keep all harm at bay, which is why we try to talk openly and candidly about how choices affect our later happiness and what to do if you find yourself in a situation that makes you uncomfortable or you know is wrong. There is power in being able to walk away or turn something off. Serious conversations with our kids about what is appropriate happen often in casual and loving ways. I believe this is our best weapon in a new adolescent world described so well by Matt Walsh here.
With lots of prayer and communication, I am hoping to help my boys navigate the wild west of today and end up on the other side…strong, healthy, compassionate, loving and full contributors to this brave new world.