Imagine you arrived home to find two people ‘making out’ in your child’s room… you, like any parent would be horrified and disturbed and immediately take steps to make sure that never happens again. Unfortunately, many parents allow this to happen every single week simply by allowing kids to have a TV in their bedroom.
I don’t even want to repeat the statistics here about what kind of content kids are exposed to, about what they get up to on their mobile phones but you can find them with a simple Google search. But I would like to offer some advice about what you can do as a parent to keep your house as clean as possible.
This is a not a step by step guide but hopefully I can fill in the gaps of your knowledge in a way that is helpful and not overwhelming.
1. Get rid of the TV in your kid’s room (this is an easy one).
2. Filter your home internet.
Start here: opendns.com it’s not the only thing you should do, but start here.
Some thoughts about filtering. Sure you can choose the categories to block, like pornography and lingerie etc. but it is no guarantee, I can think of at least half a dozen ways kids could get access to inappropriate content that are simple for children to figure out and could get around that system.
The answer is not just filtering.
Filter + accountability is better.
My boys know that I will see every single site that they will visit, every single search that they make. We use covenanteyes.com on every single computer in our house (I will get to phones next). It sends a report to whoever you choose.
Note: I recommend every pastor with internet access personally use a system like this, especially youth and children's pastors… and I recommend it for all volunteers.
The word of God tells us to flee from temptation, and this is your escape pod!
3. Look out for open Wi-Fi
Check out if you have open Wi-Fi connections available at your house. Now that you have secured your own personal home internet, open your phone or computer and check the list of the other Wi-Fi connections available. If you are in an apartment building this could be a long list. Try to connect to them one by one. If you succeed, your kids will too. Do what you can to get others to close their internet.
Now onto probably the biggest topic of all… mobile/cell/iPad/tablet computers.
4. Apple isn’t great at protecting your kids (but it’s also not their responsibility)
Sure they don’t allow apps on the app store that have pornographic material, but there are many iPhone customised websites that fill that gap. My biggest problem with iOS is that you cannot track every connection made to the internet on the phone.
Android is better, but it still makes me nervous. Avoid mobile data connections as much as possible. I would love to see a mobile phone provider that could send activity reports once a month to parents… take note Telstra!
Here’s a guide to locking down mobile devices!
The biggest takeaway from this information I would ask every parent to understand is this:
Attempt as much as possible to know exactly what your kids are accessing, it’s simply not enough to put up filters.
Don’t be secretive, be as transparent as possible. Inform your kids that you will be able to find out exactly where they go online and how long they use the internet and what they search for.
Don’t scare kids into obedience but remind them that God has given you responsibility for their lives and you are going to take that command seriously and look after every area you can think of!
Hope this helps, please comment below if you would like to add anything.
Hillsong Kids Pastor