We live in an amazing digital world. Resources that were all just analog and paper less than a generation ago are just a click or two away today. For those who can remember life without email, some (if not most) wonder how people got along without it. That notwithstanding, what is a new technology capability today can become old and passé quickly. Believe it or not Facebook, originally seen as a cutting edge technology environment, is now facing challenges of being regarded as “old”. As technology improves, so does the pace of its advancement and its impact on the culture, on our institutions, and on society in general.
Given this pervasive technological environment within which families live, it goes without saying that, as a parent, being mindful and proactive when it comes to internet security within your household is vital. It is a responsibility that requires forethought, preparedness, and dialogue with your children.
At CRCS, we regularly conduct a review of our IT resources to ensure that we have a safe and secure environment within which students and staff can interact. We encourage parents to conduct the same kind of review for their homes and household. We have provided below a list of actions that parents can take to establish a safe digital environment for their household. This list was developed by Mr. Reid Norris, an FBI agent and Christian school parent at Heritage Christian School in New Berlin, WI
- Talk to your child about potential dangers and consequences of online activities.
- Spend time with your children online.
- Keep the computer in a common room in your house, not the child’s bedroom.
- Utilize passwords, parental controls, and filtering software that is provided by your ISP and browser.
- Access your child’s online accounts and randomly check their e-mail and browser history.
- Teach your child the responsible use of online resources.
- Determine what computer safeguards are utilized by your child’s school, library, and at the homes of your child’s friends.
- Understand that even if your child is a willing participant in any form of sexual exploitation, he/she is never at fault.
- Instruct your children to:
- Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they meet online.
- Never send pictures of themselves online to people they do not personally know.
- Never give out identifying information online.
- Never respond to messages that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing.
As one can surmise from this list, there are some key positions that parents need to embrace. First, your children’s safety takes precedence over their privacy. Second, you are paying for these tools…so they are yours to inspect and modify at will. Third, BEWARE of allowing your child private smartphone access in their bedroom. A smartphone is a computer too (Point #3). Lastly, pray that your children’s consciences will be convicted should they (and, at some point, they will) find themselves disobeying you when it comes to your household’s rules of engagement with technology. This conviction can only come if you make the Creator known to them and place His will for them center stage.