It isn’t easy in this media crazed world to raise teenagers. Access to filth is at the touch of the fingertips. I grew up in a generation where the internet wasn’t easily accessible. Actually, the internet didn’t exist. HA! The computers we had in high school were the size of a small television and took a small army to lift. Who remembers the floppy discs? My earliest memories of using a computer was playing Oregon Trail. You know, I never fully understood how serious dysentery was until my Oregon Trail family died from it.
Eventually we moved past the typewriter and the digital typewriter and my mom bought us a word processor. Yes! A word processor! Talk about blast from the past. Kids nowadays will never understand the struggle! LOL! Later, my dad got us a computer the size of Mount Everest. Actually, it was a tad smaller than that, but it did take up half my brother’s room. We used it mainly for typing our school reports and computer games. That dysentery is some serious stuff. I’m sorry, my Oregon Trail family.
We got our first decent computer while I was attending college. I think it cost somewhere in the ballpark of a small fortune. Remember when a huge desktop computer cost thousands of dollars? Then you had to have a separate desk for the monitor, keyboard, mouse, mousepad (with a cute picture of a cat), all the cords running everywhere, and all the other accessories. How did we access the internet back then? If you said dial up, then no doubt that awful dial up sound is playing like a broken record in your mind. Kids will never understand the struggle! When I finally connected to the internet, someone would always need to use the phone. Seriously?! Can it not wait?! The struggle was real, folks! Where was I? Oh, right, the internet. We didn’t have time to get into trouble looking for dirty images back in those days. You got on the computer, did what you needed to do, and you got off. Our social media consisted of email and AOL chat.
Allow me to share my first encounter with a pornographic website. While I was attending beauty school, I typed in the website skin dot com. Here I am in beauty school, researching items to use on skin, so that URL made total sense. Keep in mind that my parents didn’t talk about internet safety because none of us really understood the internet. I was curious about skin care since I was getting my cosmetology license and just never prepared for what was to come. As soon as the website opened, I immediately closed it. I was mortified about what I saw! You can never un-see something. That was over 18 years ago and I still remember what I saw!
As time has progressed, computers have become incredibly smaller, easier to carry, and portable. The evolution of computers has gone from these bulky things that took up a corner of the room to handheld devices that fit in your pants pocket. These new smart devices have made it easier for teenagers to access anything and everything. Some teenagers intentionally visit these pornographic websites. However, I think the trouble begins from an innocent mistake, peer pressure, curiosity or a combination. So what is a parent to do in this media crazed generation we have created?
- Social Media. Once your child is old enough for social media, make sure you are their first “friend.” I’ve had many parents tell me that monitoring their child’s social media is intrusive and displays a lack of trust. That’s a decision those parents have made; however, not all of us agree. It is our job, as parents, to teach, train, disciple and protect our children. Now that I have one at that age, we have made the decision that they are not allowed to add friends without permission. We also reserve the right to delete anyone who uses bad language or posts things they shouldn’t. This includes family.
- Privacy Settings. Ensure the privacy settings are set to protect your teenagers. If this is their first social media account, they will be excited to add as many friends as possible. Some of these “friends” are nothing more than spam.
- Visibility. We keep our computers in main areas of the house like the living room or kitchen where people are walking back and forth. This keeps the temptation of looking at certain images at bay. We learned a long time ago when Clay went through his porn addiction that having privacy on the internet made it harder to keep tabs on activity.
- Spam. Talk to your kids about spam and clicking various links. Some links allow hackers to take over your online accounts and personal information. This can lead to major safety issues as well as financially drain a family. Many pop-ups and adds are tricks to get unsuspecting folks to give out personal information.
- Reputation. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Sadly, online reputations can be ruined in a flash. So encourage your tween/teen to be very careful what digital foot print they leave. Recently, the new Miss America was called out for comments she had made on social media well before her reign began. Our words and images can never be deleted from the internet. Pictures taken and posted, even on sites like snap chat and instagram can haunt us forever. Treat social media like meeting a new person and make a good impression.
- Filters. Install a good online filter. The only one that we trust is Covenant Eyes. Protecting your family is a ministry for the folks at Covenant Eyes and they take that ministry very serious. You can install Covenant Eyes for the whole family and on all smart devices and computers HERE.
It isn’t easy raising the next generation in a digital world. I am thankful for Covenant Eyes for their protection of my family. Right now you can sign up for Covenant Eyes and get your first month FREE! Covenant Eyes also has a FREE ebook that will help you navigate parenting through the internet years. You can get that HERE. They also have some tips for smart phones HERE.
Also, because I love y’all so much, I have made a downloadable cell phone contract for your tweens and teens! Get it FREE here.