26 Dec, 2019 Increase Online Safety in a Tech-Savvy World
by Suzanne Badger
Kids know and access tech everywhere. Increase online safety and awareness about what kids can access even if you monitor devices.
Parents need to do more to increase online safety. What if I told you that everything from test/exam answers, mainstream pornography, child pornography, gay pornography, human trafficking, sexual predators, drugs, violence, sexual encounters, secret desires, to private GPS hookup locations are in the hands of kids as young as 8?
Not only is this information in the hands of young children, but it’s also portable. It’s in the school bathrooms, the school bus, churches, and your own home.
What?? Who would give their 8-year-old access to any of this?? And how could any of this rubbish get into a church or a school?
Easy. It’s on a smartphone. When you give an unmonitored smartphone to a kid, you are giving them access to all these things. They can look it all up instantly. Even if you monitor your child’s phone, I would bet at least one kid around them has one that isn’t monitored. Our kids’ whole world is about relationships. And as they age into the teen years they become less concerned with authority. Much of their time is spent with friends on social media. As parents, we need a Biblical worldview of our screens.
Matthew 5:14 says we are the light of the world. We don’t need to hide anything or send anything anonymously. When you are online, there is an assumption we are all the same. This is not true. Anyone can lie and hide behind an avatar. (By the way, the word avatar is originally a Hindu word meaning ‘manifestation of a deity’).
When I was in a radio newsroom deciding what stories made the air, there were so many devastating stories that I would be in tears sometimes on my way home at the end of the day. Some days I would get 2-3 stories involving inappropriate content on phones (child porn, child molestation) and, more often than not, they would never make the air for a newscast.
I’m going to assume you’re reading this because you are an amazing parent, and would like to stay informed on what monitoring tools are out there for you to either use for yourself, or tell the parents of your kids’ friends. After all, we have to be aware that our kids are influencing others and vice versa.
Outside your control
Smartphones in the wrong hands can cause a huge problem. The statistics of what kids get exposed to boggles the mind.
Only 15% of parents have conversations about boundaries & how to use a phone properly before buying their kids a smartphone.
Although 80% of parents say they buy safety software for their kids’ phones, only 12% of their kids say they have it.
Maybe YOU monitor your kids’ phones. But the OTHER parents don’t, and it exposes your kid on the bus to porn by seeing a group of kids watching it on that kid’s phone. It only takes a second to spark that child’s innocence and curiosity. And then they are hooked. They borrow other kids’ phones to get their fix.
Sadly, 40% of teens admit to having sexual conversations (sexting), and 1 out of 4 of them are online with strangers!
What do you do when you or your teen gets that dreaded sext request? A recent blog post explains.
Stay tuned for the next installment of Boost Wisdom in a Tech-Savvy World for more information to increase online safety.
Check out last year’s Teens and Technology post.
Counter Culture Mom also has an excellent book that talks in detail about how to maintain safety while on the net called “Parent Chat.” It’s an easy two-hour read which will help you know how to have that much-needed conversation with your teens regarding tech.
Suzanne Badger is a native Texan and has worked in radio, television and the music business. She is a Christ-follower, autism advocate, songwriter, skincare consultant, and a classic radio enthusiast. She’s currently working as a District Director for a State Representative and as Media and Government Liaison for SAFE2SAVE, an app that rewards people who drive safe. Suzanne is happily married (for 26 years) with two children and two dogs (Brittanys).