Tips for talking with your kids about internet safety and for helping set boundaries, with help from Circle.
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The internet can be very frightening place for children as well as for their parents. Between the horror stories of child predators, and the ease of accidentally clicking on an explicit link, the internet is no safe place for an unattended child.
Is the internet evil? No, it is a-moral, however it is being used for great good as well as for great evil. Just think about the amount of times we use it in any given day.
Did your child ask a question you don’t know the answer to? THE INTERNET. Do you want to know the weather today? THE INTERNET. Do you want to listen to your favorite song? THE INTERNET. Doing homework with children? THE INTERNET.
Before you read on, this may frighten some of you, especially if you have children that you are raising. Let’s read the facts and then get to some ideas of ways you, as a parent, can help to safeguard your children as best as possible.
According to Family Safe Media, the average age of first being exposed to pornography on the internet is 11, although other research claims a much younger age. 90% of children ages 8-16 have viewed pornography, mostly while doing homework. 80% of adolescents ages 15-17 have had multiple exposures to hard core porn.
If you really want to be frightened you can check out many different scientific studies that have been done on pornography at Truth About About Porn. They have a large collection of studies and research that has been done on the effects of porn on the brain, how porn is actually as a addictive or more than illicit drugs, the damage it causes to relationships and marriages, the chemical changes to the brain that happen when someone is addicted, and so forth.
Now the question is , how do we protect our children on the internet? If sexual addiction is 1 click away on the internet, what can we possibly do? Here are a few resources and ideas that my help. Feel free to comment below to add some more of your own ideas.
1. Talk openly with your children
For some people this is a very difficult thing to do. A conversation about internet safety and sexual addiction is not a “one-and-done” conversation. There needs to be ongoing rhetoric in your home. Children need to feel that they can trust you with their struggles.
At what age do you start having these conversations with your kids? That is up to each family. We start out young and tone the conversation down to their age level! If the conversation comes up, we don’t shy away.
Last year, I was visiting with a neighbor I had recently met when my 5 year old asked me if she could look at some pictures on someone else’s phone while we talked. Since I was sitting right there watching, I said “yes.” After she was done on the phone, my daughter said “Mommy, I got to see some of their pictures, and there weren’t any pictures of naked people! Isn’t that good?” I laughed a bit and went on to explain to my neighbor that we talk openly to our children about pornography, and that we are rather vigilant about it as well.
2. Set rules for other peoples’ devices
The rule in out house is, NO ONE looks at, or borrows, or plays with, or does ANYTHING on ANY DEVICE that belongs to someone outside of our immediate family without asking mom or dad’s permission first. That includes close friends, neighbors, family members, pastors, and cousins. Even at other peoples’ houses. To some of you, this may sound impossible, and if you have teenagers, it just might be. Our kids aren’t teenagers yet so this is still a reasonable rule, and we will revisit it as they get older. But really, the important thing is that the discussion lines with mom and dad stay open.
3. Screens must be used in shared spaces
This is especially true if you have teenagers and can’t really limit whose devices they are using. The rule in our home is no internet access in bedrooms. If they want to use the internet, they have to be in a shared space of the house like the living room or kitchen.
4. GET CIRCLE and set boundaries
Circle is probably one of the most amazing products you can get in order to set boundaries for family screen time management. You can manage every device in your home on Circle, and it has so many features. As a parent, you will feel so much better if you have some sort of oversight and control of your children’s screen habits.
Setting filters for each device in your home is just one of the many features that Circle offers. You can set screen times and limits, set bed times when you can shut off any device, give rewards for completing assignments or chores, check on your child’s history and even track their location.
Circle works inside of the home and when your child is away as well. I had never heard of Circle until we went to parenting conference at our church last year. Click on this link and you can get $20 off!
5. Set screen time limits
Screens themselves can be addictive to children, so setting screen time limits is a way to keep that addiction at bay. Yet again, Circle offers the ability to set these limits on any device in your home and thee cool thing is, is that when their screens shut off, you can blame it on Circle!! How awesome is that!
6. Be a role model
If you struggle with sexual addiction, there is hope. It’s a hard road, but it can be done. If you are looking to get help yourself, check out Josh McDowell’s website or Pure Desire Ministries to find help near you.