Keeping Your Children Safe Online

SOAPBOX TIME: Oct. 24th, 2012 – 03:29am

Our kids are constantly annoyed, and probably deeply embarrassed by having their parents keeping an eye on what they do here on Facebook, and on the internet in general. Effectively, we police them. If they post publicly something likely to cause offense or embarrasment to us or themselves, we step in. We explain our position regarding the post and it is either corrected or removed, as the case warrants.

Does this amount to a form of repression or censorship? Yes.
Definitely, yes. But, is it for the right reasons? Again, ‘yes’.
It comes down to whether we want to be seen as ‘cool’ by our kids now, or later on, in the future, when they can look back on our protective actions, and see how it has benefitted them, when they are older, with better reasoning capacity.

We will not sit by and let OUR children embarrass/offend themselves, their family or their friends. We won’t sit back and let them post material that might cost them a scholarship, a job, or other opportunity, down the line. We won’t tolerate hateful, ignorant, or overly crude things being posted by my kids.
So, is this censorship? Yes.
Is it repression of childhood self-expression? Probably.
But what it also is, is using our judgement as parents to ensure that our two fantastic kids don’t screw themselves over, before they’ve even had a chance in this crazy world we live in nowadays.

So, is it censorship? Definitely- Yes.
Is it also part of being a parent, who is supposed to use the experience & (hopefully!) wisdom gathered over the course of an adult lifetime, to guide their innocent, mostly well-intentioned kids along a decent path as they find their own lives & identity?

100% Yes.

Freedom of speech is a nice concept, but only so long as you know what you are talking about, and it doesn’t have a tangible negative impact on others.

So, until they reach a level of reasonable, adult sophistication, and can appreciate the ramifications of what they post, We are here to ‘guide’ them. Because that is part of our job as parents; to protect them not only from outside harm, but also from the harm they may unintentionally cause others or themselves. And, until we stop breathing, it’s a job we will probably keep on doing.

The opinion expressed above (and slightly reworded for this post) was written by Ken as a Facebook post, back in 2012 (as you can tell from the original header, above).

Our kids were very much younger and considerably more innocent.
We had password access to their Facebook accounts and for a while we used blocking software like NetNanny to restrict their access to unapproved websites. We also used software timer programs to limit their ability to even get online after more than a few hours per evening, when school was in session.

This post received a lot of positive comments from other Facebook parents who were facing, or getting near to the time when they’d have to face this issue. So perhaps this might be helpful too, to someone out there who needs some advice. We hope so.

Anyway, those days are gone for us now, and hopefully we raised two young adults who are careful online, and also hopefully, they understand why we took such measures.
It was hard for us, but it is probably even harder now for parents, since children no longer need a computer to get online – they can just use their cellphone or tablet. This makes parental oversight much, much more difficult. Not impossible, mind – but very hard, indeed. Add in the fact that there is a new messaging app being developed almost every week, and the parents job gets a million times harder.

Regardless of the difficulty and resentments from their kids, parents MUST be aware of what their children are accessing online, and who they interact with, and how.

We haven’t really had to be as concerned with this issue for a while now, since our kids are older, but with cyber-bullying and online sexual predators being constantly on the rise, it is a serious concern for today’s parents of young children & teens.

The point of the piece above was to make it clear that being protective is nothing to feel bad about. Your job as a parent is to safeguard your children. Period.

We’ve found some sites that can help you with protecting your children when they are online. Hope they are useful to somebody out there who didn’t know the dangers, nor some of the available solutions and strategies…

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