As a parent today there are are issues we have to consider that parents didn’t have to worry about even 7 years ago when my oldest was born. From where I’m sitting, technology and the communication that happens via social media is evolving at a pace that makes us feel old and out of touch much sooner than our time.
I had my first email address at 15, and none of my friends really had one yet, so I had to send emails to their parents to print out for them. I remember buying a 50 ft phone cord to plug into our home internet so that I could connect in the comfort of my room when I was 18. I didn’t even have a cell phone until I got married! Everything is so much more accessible now! I admit the thought of my daughter becoming a tween before we know it, and her dad and I trying to keep up with “what the kids are into these days” makes me a little nervous. At the same time, I believe that while digital technology and social media have the potential to make us seem out of touch, they also have the potential to keep us in touch in a greater way than any generation before us – if we take control and harness it for good.
My boys View on Instagram
We’re not running away from it, we’re learning to meet it head-on, discern and embrace the good, and keep communication lines wide open about the bad.
How our family goes online together:
Together as a family, we use YouTube to create a video time capsule of our lives through weekly vlogs. Being able to look back and remember all those little moments is already fun now and will be invaluable later. We also did a 365 project together, videoing us celebrating a new random holiday each day for a year, and it taught us so much! Here’s the video we made for comic book day.
Most nights while we’re eating supper we watch videos from other families who share their lives on YouTube, and between that and the making of our own videos, it gives us plenty of opportunity to talk about how and what we share.
Like everything else in life that we as parents are preparing our kids for, we want to give them as much experience with it as we can now, while we’re here to guide them through situations that can pop up (no pun intended).
Thankfully it will still be a few years before our kids are wanting their own cell phones, but they’ve had their own kids’ tablet for a while already, and a Chromebook for various other things.
I don’t anticipate ever changing our requirement that internet-enabled devices utilize AdBlock at the very least. For now, that cuts out 99% of the issues you run into with ads and pop-ups. Our kids understand to come get us if they accidentally end up somewhere they don’t recognize while doing their approved online activities. As they get older, we may implement an accountability/reporting software to better monitor where they are online, but it will definitely be our policy to keep things in the open where natural monitoring will also take place.
For us, keeping our kids safe online is the same as keeping them safe in “real life”. There’s an aspect of our children choosing to do or not do things just because they trust and obey us. However, that’s obviously not a long term solution for succeeding at life. As they get older, it’s imperative they understand the “whys”. So as much as possible we seek to get to the heart of the matter, and instill core values in our kids that will help to inform their decisions for years to come.
Crossover Values to instill in your children to help them navigate both online and off:
Modesty/Purity – We’ve been teaching our kids about what’s appropriate since they’ve been able to talk, so they understand that what’s not OK in person is also not OK online.
Good Communication – We are working to keep good lines of communication open with our kids as they get older. Whenever we get home from something, I try to ask Maeve how it was and if she had any “problems”. I’ve been “checking in” with her long enough that she knows she can trust me not to just jump down her throat if she slipped up and made bad choices. We also talk about how keeping secrets in darkness gives them power over us, but bringing them into the light sets us free.
Integrity – Our goal is to model and talk about integrity with our kids so they understand that who you are when you think no one’s watching is just as important as who you are in public. We also remind them that God always knows and cares.
Do Unto Others – The Golden Rule serves as a good guide anytime, anywhere. We want it to be so ingrained in our kids to be empathetic and watch out for others, that it would feel completely foreign to them to go against it.
Trust – It’s important for kids to know that trust is earned. We are training our children to never blindly trust that someone else has their best interests in mind, and to always consider the bigger picture with how they choose to act and present themselves. You never know who is watching – perverts don’t wear name tags identifying them as such. There are definitely things I would have done differently as a teen and young adult if I had kept in mind that just because you might be trying to look good for that cute boy you like, doesn’t keep potential old men perverts from also seeing you when you’re out.
I want our kids to always keep in mind what they want their future selves and future children to have to look back on – and I’m SO thankful for the digital tools we have now to better capture all the beautiful moments and wonderful memories we make together!
#widn #dayout #withmyloves
National PTA has partnered with LifeLock to share awesome ways families can create an open, evolving conversation about positive, safe decisions when using digital tools.
Snap a photo of an awesome moment in your day and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the #ShareAwesome hashtag!
Students who enter the #ShareAwesome contest between September 15 – November 30, 2014 will have a chance to win fantastic prizes, including tablets and a $2,500 scholarship! Visit ShareAwesomeNow.org to learn more.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.