The world has changed, things are complicated and danger lurks in ways that we as parents would never have imagined when we were growing up. The world of social media is new to our way of life, but children and growing up with it already existing and therefore wanting to be a part of it. They have heard of websites we haven’t even see before, so it’s important to keep on top of what your child is doing online.
A large part of our job is to help provide tools for parents so that they can be proactive in their parenting, particularly in the area of social media and the use of devices. Whilst this can be a daunting area to cover, as well as one that you keep pushing to the back of your mind, learning everything you can about social media will be very important when it comes to protecting your children. As they get older, the need to sign-up to popular platforms such as Twitter and Instagram will only become more appealing. Now there is nothing wrong with that, but keeping tabs on your children’s actions will be of the utmost importance if you want to guarantee their safety. Occasionally that requires some education and even a little shock therapy as we tell stories that strike terror into their hearts, enough for them to take action.
For us as parents, if we don’t see the need immediately in front of us, it isn’t “felt” in the moment, we tend to put it off. At least I know that I’m that way.
One of the primary reasons that most give to explain their lack of action is that they believe their child’s integrity and character is so good that he or she would never do anything like that online.
Well, I am here to tell you that no matter how amazing and great your children’s character is, it won’t save them from accidental exposure and the results of that exposure.
Exposure to what, you might ask?
Well, essentially it’s exposure to just about anything, very often pornography of some kind. But one of our more recent calls came from a father whose son had been having conversations with friends and strangers about his lack of belief in God and his unspoken rejection of his parents’ faith as a result. Being exposed to different ways of thinking isn’t bad, but walking our children through discernment and providing them with an educated opportunity for discussion is vital. Things done in secret undermine our potential to parent, influence and direct our children.
Like it or not, our kids aren’t usually prone to coming to us with every detail of their lives. Their movement towards independence over time slowly breaks this tendency down. Depending on the dynamics of our relationship with them, and their character, they may come right to us when something goes wrong or shocks them.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Using the example of pornography, some of the reasons for their silence often include:
- Very often, even if the topic has been addressed, there is an immediate response of shame and embarrassment, which causes them to hide what is going on.
- Lack of open discussion on the topic by us as their parents. It’s an unspoken thing, so their internal response tends to be feeling dirty or like they have done something wrong.
- They are confused and overwhelmed. This sense of “wrong” is sourced in a hormonal response that most everyone has when they see pornography, especially for the first time. It’s the mix of adrenaline intermingled with all of the new sparks of brain activity and sexual hormones that suddenly come down on them like an avalanche. It’s like nothing they have experienced before.
- They like it. God designed us as sexual beings, this is good, but a natural response for us in that regard is to be drawn towards intimacy and sexuality Porn, however, takes it out of the appropriate and God given realm and provides it for us out of context. This contributes considerably to the growing shame.
- They may have begun to look at it regularly. The endorphins and hormones will drive them to look for it again, and it’s always harder to admit something when it becomes a behavioral pattern.
These things can apply at some level to ANY new content on the internet, different people and relationships and viewpoints that we don’t necessarily even know about, the opportunity to debrief and discuss things with our kids is being stolen from us.
When you look back on this list it isn’t hard to see that those elements of shock, hormone and adrenaline etc… can and will cause even the most amazing child to react and respond OUTSIDE of their natural character set. Unfortunately, your belief in them, which I’m sure is totally accurate and reflective of who they actually are, becomes void because the world isn’t playing fair!
Diligence is desperately required on our part as parents. Please parents, as frustrating or out of your comfort zone it might be, you NEED to take action in order to PROTECT your child’s character.
Here are some links on protecting and guiding your children through the dangers of the Internet:
Filters for every device in your home – There is a need for all devices in your home to be filtered. This article also gives names of sites and programs that will help you monitor text messages, Instagram and Facebook accounts if you find the need.
The Three Layered Approach to Internet Security– The how to and why’s of the filters listed above.
Parents: A 7 Step Social Media Introduction Model for Healthy Internet Use for Our Kids
In the midst of all of the protection, remember to connect with your children. Build relationships with them, simply putting up boundaries doesn’t solve the problem.
Click here for more on the balance between RULES AND RELATIONSHIPS.
They need you now, more than ever.