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How to {and why we must} Protect Our Children Online

How to {and why we must} Protect Our Children Online

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It seems like yesterday when my kids were playing with Legos, baby dolls, and Nerf guns. And now? Well, I have been dreading it, but they have officially arrived at the age of using the online world and various electronic devices. As if parenting wasn’t hard enough already! Long gone are the days of worrying about a Nerf bullet to the eyeball. Now, we are doing our best at navigating this different season of parenting wisely. Something that doesn’t come easy.

But I believe with all of my heart that it will be worth it. As the book of Proverbs reminds us, wisdom doesn’t come to us, we have to pursue it. And there is plenty to pursue when it comes to parenting with so many good, but potentially dangerous online opportunities. Taking the time to research safe internet options, setting restrictions and implementing rules at home to keep your family safe, is so important.

We protect what we value and love. Which is why everyone I know locks their house at night! We lock our car doors. We set passwords and PINS. Why? Because we are committed to keeping safe what we value most. We don’t eliminate the threat, but we can minimize it. How much more important is protecting our kids from either intentional or unintentional material that endangers their soul. I know it can all be overwhelming, but as parents we must be diligent in protecting those we love and more importantly those whom God loves.

With unrestricted freedom, we are leaving a child vulnerable to make moral decisions when they might not yet have the moral fortitude or capacity to choose wisely. It is like giving a child keys and permission to drive a car before they are fully trained, or old enough and capable of handling that car. I know, I know, I know….you trust your child. You want your child to know you trust them. The point here is that you LOVE them so much you protect them. You may trust them, but you can’t trust all that they will have access to on the internet. As parents, we have the responsibility to protect them from sin on the outside, while training them to overcome sin, on the inside.

The Bible reminds us that sin comes from the outside, but also resides on the inside – in our hearts. So in addition to doing all we can to protect our kids from ungodly outside influences, we have been called to help cultivate godly desires and decisions from the inside. We are helping them build godly choices today so that they will have godly character tomorrow. A character that enables them to truly desire to do the right thing. Like all growth, this takes time, wisdom, prayer, God’s truth, and the work of the Holy Spirit.

So how do we handle the online world? I want to share a few resources that I hope will help.

First, we have an Electronic Device Contract that we go over with each of our kids. You can grab a FREE copy of that by clicking HERE. (If you are already an email subscriber to The Better Mom, check today's email for a link to the free download.)

Secondly, one of the easiest ways to protect your kids is by simply setting some of the restrictions on their device. It is very easy to do and necessary. For example, you can select "No Explicit Content" under restrictions and select the age-appropriate apps (6+, 12+, etc.) just to name a couple of options. 

Lastly, find a third party to help you monitor activity for help teaching your child to make the right choices and also for peace of mind. I was recently approached by Forcefield to give their app a try and have discovered that I love it! 

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Forcefield is a true parenting optimization app that lets parents remotely supervise their kids' online browsing and social media from their own phone. Forcefield is not a spyware solution. It is designed to build trust and foster an ongoing conversation about digital safety and connection. With Forcefield parents can:

  • Sleep apps on demand to protect digital downtime
  • Lock in Youtube restricted mode & SafeSearch
  • Block inappropriate content
  • See images posted to social media
  • Receive an activity report of all websites kids have visited, when and for how long
  • Receive a real-time notification anytime their child installs a new app

The one thing I love most about Forcefield is the ability to search safely online! Up until now, I had restricted Safari on my two teenager's phones because there was no "safe" way for them to search. Now because of ForceField’s safe browser, it allows them to use the internet when and as needed. I LOVE this because I know there is a vast amount of fantastic and useful content online and I want them to be able to discover that!  Also, it is so simple to either set their apps to sleep at a certain time or turn them off remotely if you would like. Click HERE to learn more and start your free 30-day trial today. [FYI, when installing the Forcefield app on kids’ devices be sure to have the app restriction set to 17+, due to the fact that it’s a browser.]

We have been wrestling with all of this "media stuff" in the best way we can (NOT perfectly!) for the last several years. Overall, we are so glad we have taken this issue seriously. Every family is different, but I pray that some of our experience will help you as you navigate this with your own tweens and teens.

And more than anything, I pray that you will not just push it aside.

This is that important and we simply aren’t talking about it enough.

Blessings,

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Sidenote for those of you wondering: As far as social media goes our two oldest have Instagram but they DO NOT have it on their own devices. If they would like to look at their Instagram accounts they need to be on my phone or my husband’s phone. This is the BEST decision we have made. Trust me when I say there is NO safe way for your kids to have Instagram. (or any other social media for that matter) 

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