...probably because she never had to deal with the world wide web!
being a boy mom just got a little bit harder. my husband and i have three boys…and having two of those three boys going into adolescence at the same time is proving to be our biggest challenge yet.
our two oldest are very smart. honor roll smart. but we were naive to think that they were innocent when it came to internet smarts.
go back in time to when you were twelve, thirteen, fourteen years old. try to think about how you looked at the world and those in it. think about how you looked at your parents and how your parents looked at you. i'll bet that most of you thought you knew everything. i'll bet that most of you thought your parents weren't cool and didn't have a clue about your life, or that they didn't 'understand' you. pffft.
i remember being that age. i remember crying a lot. i remember my parents' struggle to keep me in the house and protect me from the big bad world. i remember wanting to go out into that big bad world regardless of what my parents said. and i remember getting into some things that were beyond my years. and i didn't even have the internet at my fingertips back then. as an adult, i wish i had listened to my parents. and later i had to deal with the consequences of my choices.
as a parent, i want to protect my boys as well. i have 50 years of life experience to share with them. i know the consequences of bad choices. i had to live with them. i'm not perfect in any way. i still make mistakes. often. but oh how i wish i could impress upon my littles the importance of innocence…of staying young as long as possible. but this world is so advanced and becoming more so every day, that it practically screams to your children, "GROW UP!" "NOW!"
i admit i was naive to some things on the internet. i probably still am. i am a trusting soul. unless i have a reason to mistrust, i usually trust people. so i trusted my two oldest on the internet. oh, i placed the usual parental controls on their devices. spoke to them about staying within the parameters that their dad and i set. threatened to take away those devices if they abused them, etc.
it was so not enough.
i want to speak to the parents of young children…guard their hearts! protect them from these things that they don't understand…that are way beyond their years. keep them off line as long as possible. if they need to go online, be there with them. physically. watching over their shoulder. unless you have filters upon filters upon filters.
i'm urging you to be on this as soon as you decide you are going to buy that kindle, or that iPod, or that iPad mini. place your parental controls on these devices. be present when your children are 'downloading' games or music or books. even as they are searching for these items. buy a software program that filters explicit materials/images. don't let them on YouTube. EVER! ok, well that may prove to be impossible. but be physically present if they have to research something on that site. it's treacherous!
be mindful of these social media accounts as well. be mindful of the minimal age requirements, and don't let your child of 11 have a Kik account when it's meant for ages 17+. There are reasons these age limits are set. i won't even get into the wide world of child predators! you say that you made their account 'private.' don't kid yourself. there's nothing private on the internet. nothing.
on top of those filters, check your child's online history. all.the.time. i mean every.single.day.
and if they know how to clear that history, tell them you don't want them to clear that history. tell them you will be checking that history. and if they clear it, that means they have something to hide and you will be taking that privilege away from them. period. no discussion. end of story.
this is no joke. there are lots of things that go on in private chat rooms online. did you know they have chat rooms in almost every single online game that exists??!! well get schooled now ladies and gentlemen. this is where a lot of cyber bullying happens. not to mention, once again, where child predators hang out. your child might be thinking they are chatting with a 12 year old boy when it's actually a 42 year old man! this is real. this is no a fairy tale.
and this is why being a boy mom has gotten a little bit harder these days. there will be more talks and more instruction; and a good filtering software program in place.
i'm hoping to reach some of those parents who haven't been there yet. please please please be on this. don't let it slip through your fingers. don't be lazy about the internet. it's not just for research. it's everything. all the world has to offer (and definitely not all good). teach your children how to be discerning, yes. but protect them along the way.
and if you are a parent of a toddler…cherish these years. they are hard in their own right, but oh so much easier than preteen/teen years.
(even though i'm a mom of boys, the above also pertains to moms of girls!)