My daughters are already learning their way around technology. My five year old can connect to the internet and I have an account for her with some of her favorite little games (sesame street ABC’s, Strawberry Shortcake, etc.) and my two year old is now trying to figure out how to send a text to her grandma. 🙂
So, in the midst of this unprecedented technological era, I’ve been worried about teaching, training and staying ahead of the curve when it comes to protecting my babies. I came across a fantastic article in BYU’s Alumni Magazine entitled, THE DANGEROUS DIGITAL VORTEX, with the byline; Savvy parents connect with their children to build powerful family firewalls.
The author interviewed BYU associate professor of computer science, Charles D. Knutson who stated; “Increasingly, technology is the air we breathe. … We have to acclimate our children and teach them and train them how to live in a world where that is their reality.”
The article pointed out that dangerous areas such as pornography and predators in chat rooms are not the only thing to worry about. “Sexting”, cyber bullying, Facebook, video games, and even too much texting can be areas that, if left unchecked, can become major problems. Prevention, and frank discussion is vital to training our children and youth.
Under a section entitled – Internet Filters and Computers in the Kitchen Are Not Enough, the author stated;
Responsible parents know not to put a computer in a child’s bedroom, but Knutson has found that some don’t think twice about handing their son or daughter a cell phone with a browser, messaging, and a camera. “You give your kids iPhones and they have the entire world at their fingertips. They’re taking it to bed with them, and maybe they’re accessing porn or maybe they’re just up until 4 in the morning texting their friends.” Parents who do this “have an absolute disconnect” about what they’ve done.
The solution is for parents to keep up on the latest technologies. They must investigate thoroughly and put limits on any devices they buy. That means adding filters, disabling questionable features, and controlling access. Some parents keep custody of the devices; the children check them out when it’s agreed they’re needed and check them back in at specified times, such as during homework hours or bedtime.
I think that is SOOO important to remember. Technology for teens is a privilege – NOT a right. Just like driving the car. We need to teach our children responsibility, and intelligence.
For example –
- Texting language is not correct; just because your friends type “thru” and “C U L8TR” doesn’t mean that it is accepted as proper English. (When one uses texting language in his/her college papers, it only makes that person look illiterate. And, please don’t think it hasn’t happened, I have graded too many of these papers during my six years teaching on the college level.)
- It’s important to have conversations. The art of conversing will allow one to go far in life. A lot further than those who only know how to text their thoughts and feelings.
- There are many AMAZING activities in life that can be done without technology. In order to learn those skills, one needs to unplug!
The author also states that not allowing any technology in the home is not a good idea.
Some parents are so terrified by the prospect of their children having access to the digital world that they “pull the plug”—they forbid any and all technology in their homes. “That solution creates a false sense of security,” says Knutson. “Your children still have access to computers at the library, at school, and at their friends’ houses. And they’re going to leave home. If they go to college, now they have a laptop for the very first time, and they’ve never had to contend with what that world looks like. It’s like tossing a kid into a swimming pool who’s never seen one before.”
Pulling the plug also denies children and families the positive connectivity of the digital world, which includes Church websites, General Conference, and valuable instruction of many kinds.
The most important thing to do is to make sure that families have good communication about the world in which they live.
Knutson says that when there’s emotional connection in the family, there’s a huge amount of protection. Add to that gospel teachings, and you have what amounts to a near firewall against harmful technology.
“I really believe that this is the fire this generation has to pass through,” says Knutson. “It’s the river of filthiness in Lehi’s dream. He said the iron rod was on the riverbank, so when you’re clinging to the rod, you’re very close to the river. It’s muddy, and you get splashed. But you can’t let go and move further from the filthiness. You’re where you’re supposed to be. It’s not your location that’s safe or unsafe—it’s how you behave despite your proximity to temptation. We cannot withdraw from the world but instead are called to be in it while we hold on to the scriptures, good parents, others who are godly, and, most of all, the Savior.”