An important part of Christian parenting is teaching your children how to live a Christ-like life in their current context. The fact of the matter is, your kids probably have drastically different problems to tackle than you did as a child. The most difficult hurdle to overcome is the one your kids are constantly exposed to: the internet.
While it can be one of our greatest resources (and is now a necessity for many of our careers), the internet can also be a source of danger, especially for more vulnerable users like children.
It may not be the most natural topic of conversation in your family time, but teaching your kids responsible digital citizenship is vital for helping them to become healthy internet users in the future.
Here are a few helpful tips for keeping your kids safe online.
Monitor Internet and Device Use
It can be so easy to use screens as a source of reprieve. It’s often the quick fix to a child who just won’t come down from a tantrum and has refused every other bargaining chip.
While a game or video can sometimes be helpful to give you a momentary break, it’s important that the iPad doesn’t become a babysitter, or worse: the parent.
Even if they’ve given you every reason to run for the hills in that moment, stay with your kids so you can monitor what is being used on their devices. And if you can’t always be there physically, checking the internet history can be helpful to make sure each device is being used as it is intended.
Keep Devices in a Shared Space
Keeping computers and devices in shared areas is a great way to ensure that nothing unhealthy will be accessed, either accidentally or on purpose. This method should apply not only to laptops but also to phones and tablets as well.
While this can work well as a safety method, it can also be a good way to limit the amount of screen exposure for your kids.
More and more research has shown just how much damage heavy screen exposure does to kids’ minds. It stunts the development of imagination, diminishes attention span, and some researchers go so far as to say that kids are becoming tech addicts at a young age and developing dependencies.
It’s important to teach your kids the importance of moderation. It’s okay to spend a little time here and there with a game, but helping instill the value of balance in all things is important in the process of teaching kids about Jesus.
Keeping devices in a common space is also a great way to encourage family time while devices are in use. Obviously, your child playing a video game while you try to talk to them isn’t ideal. It’s infinitely better to spend even a little time in one another’s presence than it would be for them to hole themselves up in their room with a screen.
Use Filters and Parental Controls
One of the most straightforward ways to put yourself at ease and protect your kids is by using filters that allow you to determine what your kids will and be able to access.
Internet filters for parents have gotten so sophisticated that there are a number of different metrics for content management online. You can customize filters per user, manage filters remotely, and even review social media usage.
Obviously, a filter won’t solve all of your problems. You should still be having open conversations about appropriate and safe internet use, but using a filter can be an extra hedge of protection over your kids.
Bark – monitoring service/app
Circle – parental control app
Guard Your Personal Details
Any number of game or social media websites may ask for personal information when creating accounts. It is important that you explicitly discuss with your kids what information they shouldn’t be giving online.
Kids should be made aware that they should not give out phone numbers, addresses, or any other personal information online, certainly not to any inquiring individuals. Remember to take a second glance at any accounts they set up that require personal information.
It can also be helpful for you, as a parent, to have records of usernames and passwords for any accounts or games of younger children so that you can properly manage their internet presence.
Teach Them to Be Alert to Unsafe Behavior
Inappropriate internet use isn’t always intentional. In our current world, predators have easier access to your children than ever.
It’s important that your child knows what sort of contact with people on the internet is unsafe. Teach them to never talk with people they don’t know and to never share their personal details with online friends.
Know who your kids are talking to online and make sure that any online contacts are confirmed. You kids should know that not everyone who masquerades as someone may be who they say they are.
Emphasize the Good
One of the mistakes we sometimes make as parents is overemphasizing the importance of restrictions when we discuss different topics with our kids. We may spend so much time telling our kids what they shouldn’t be doing that we forget to tell them what they can safely do.
Emphasize the healthy ways they can use the internet as a tool. There’s no way to keep kids off the internet forever, so rather than just giving them a list of things they shouldn’t do (which can often increase temptation), show them how to use the internet responsibly.
It can be a great use of technology to incorporate exciting media into your family devotionals from online resources. When your kids are learning about Jesus, using kids Bible lessons with exciting and engaging media can be a great way to encourage your kids to be accessing positive material online.
Stick to a reliable list of kid-friendly websites for your family to use. Websites like Minno have countless resources for you and your family, from fun videos to entertaining ways of teaching kids Bible stories. Check out our catalog of positive media today to start encouraging your children to stay safe online!