You aren’t going to like hearing this, but your children are most likely doing things behind your back you don’t know about.
Did you know? A better question, do you care?
If their grades are not affected, do you care what they do at school?
If their safety isn’t in jeopardy, do you mind what they post online?
If their health isn’t at risk, do you have concern for how they behave?
If their heart or body won’t be broken, do you care how often and to whom they give it away to?
I know you care. Unfortunately, however, studies show that when it comes to our kids and their on-line behavior parents are overwhelmed to the point of almost “not caring.”
When parents of children between the ages of 10-17 were questioned how they felt about their children’s online activity, an incredible 74% of parents agreed they DON’T have the time or energy to keep up with what their child is doing online.
Problem #1 Parents do not see monitoring online activity as a worthy enough investment of their time or energy.
Pause and evaluate what areas of your child’s life you deem worthy of your time and energy. Is it sports and athletics? Academics and college preparedness? Outward appearance and behavior? Obedience? Popularity and social status?
Why isn’t it online activity? Our lives revolve around the internet, from shopping to GPS, we rely on our connectedness 24/7. However, acknowledging our reliance doesn’t discount the need for children to be supervised. Things we, as parents, would never think about viewing, or consider participating in, or debate making public – our kids are doing.
They are developing their morals, values, opinions, preferences, and overall lifestyle choices by what they see and experience online and through social media. Who they are becoming is a product of where they are spending their time.
The average teenager spends 9 hours a day consuming media.
This unlimited and unfiltered internet is changing the character of this generation.
Parents, the goal cannot be to just survive the teenage years by looking the other way (or look only at what you deem worthy of your time and energy.) Parenting must be intentional, sacrificial, and brave. There is a very narrow window of opportunity for impacting your child’s future by way of shaping who they are. To our demise, this precious time is wasted on YouTube, Instagram, and Porn Hub.
Unfortunately, there seems to be another road block in addition to the time and energy for parents. In the same above study, 72% of parents agreed that modern technology is too overwhelming and their child is much more tech savvy than they are. Therefore, 66% say they will never be able to keep up with their online behavior so they simply hope for the best.
Problem #2 Hoping for the best is easier for parents than finding a solution, but for our children this can be detrimental.
Keeping up with technology is hard – it takes time and patience. Kids seem to boast an uncanny ability to navigate and manipulate through the technology. The truth is they are just spending the time and energy necessary to figure it out.
A recent survey reports 65% of children ages 10-12 say their parents do not know what they do online. Furthermore, the same report found 63% of parents don’t think their child can get into that much trouble online.
Correlation or coincidence?
When we don’t even try, our kids perceive this as not caring enough to try.
Their online life is not without struggle. Their conscience, morals, and self-worth are challenged in every way as they absorb the world’s unfiltered content. As if navigating the tween and teenage years weren’t hard enough, now they have the world to compare themselves to. Consequently, because of the secrecy of their activity, problems and concerns that children might normally bring to a parent for advice are left unspoken.
Do we really think our kids are capable of handling all of this on their own?
Parent’s role is to train their children up, prepare them for adulthood. It is not to hand them a smartphone and laptop and hope for the best. Regardless of what they say or how they act, they need us! Our children need us to try our very best, to care deeply about all aspects of their life, and to love them with both affection and protection.
What can you do today to invest in your child? Here’s a few suggestions:
- Have an honest conversation about their online activity without judgement. Let them know you are concerned and care. If they don’t hear from you about what is appropriate online, they will assume everything is.
- Ask about their relationships online/through social media. Is it easier to talk to friends online versus face to face? What about the opposite sex? How often are friends saying things they would never say to your face? These are real issues they are battling.
- Offer to fast from social media with them for a week – plan special dates together instead.
- Install filters on computers to block pornographic websites.
- Turn off Wi-Fi (and restrict cellular data through your carrier) at night so they actually sleep instead of staying up online. Better yet, don’t let them keep their devices in their room at night.
- Use Circle to restrict Wi-Fi and websites in your home. Circle Go is now available for individual device/smart phone monitoring as well.
- Spend quality time with them away from the television and without phones.
Yes, this will be a challenge. Yes, you will need to be brave and strong. Yes, they will act like they don’t like your new found interest in their online activity.
And, yes, they will thank you later.