In a recent post we raised the issue of children’s exposure to the unstructured freedom of the internet. We encourage parents to acknowledge their responsibility to supervise their children’s use of the internet, both of personal computers as well as on smart phones.
On the one hand, the internet increases opportunity because it is a free environment for creativity and self-expression. On the other hand many people choose to use their freedom to exploit others.
What are things a parent can do to keep their children safe?
- Restrict screen time to specific times during the day.
- Treat the computer as a tool rather than a toy. Limit use of the computer for productive, value-added activities. This includes homework and appropriate exploration of themes that enrich your child’s life.
- Only allow supervised use of the computer. Keep it in public space.
- Speak openly with your children about the of the problem of internet pornography.
- Model healthy intimacy for your children.
One option to consider is an internet service like Covenant Eyes or X3Watch.com. Services like these provide technological support to your commitment to keep your kids safe on the internet. However, please do not use technology as an alternative to your active involvement in the life of your child.
Nothing substitutes for the presence of loving parents who send clear, direct, an unambiguous messages about their children’s welfare. Kids love boundaries. Set them.
Keeping children safe on the internet takes an investment of time and emotional energy. A small investment now will save you an enormous investment — and the possible loss of your child to addiction — later.