Parents desire to protect their children—spirit, mind and body. As Christian parents, we take it as a divine mandate to raise our children “with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4b). In this technological age, that mandate has become even more challenging. No longer are dangers and traps just outside of our homes; now, they are as close as a keystroke. However, with diligence, we can protect our children online.
Here are seven tips to protect your children from digital danger:
- Protect Your Home
Install a service such as OpenDNS for your home computer network. OpenDNS protects your home at the router by limiting access to questionable websites.
- Update Your Children’s mobile phone Protection
Most carriers have a children’s level of protection that excludes sites that deal with violence, guns, terrorism, gambling, sexuality or anything deemed inappropriate for kids.
- Limit Calls and Texts
Cellphone carriers allow you to control who can call or text your children. You can, therefore, see and approve who your children are in contact with at any moment.
- Set Parental Controls on Video Games
In addition to choosing age-appropriate games for your children, parents can also set controls to limit blood, gore and language within the games. You can review any games your children want at www.CommonSenseMedia.org, which is an excellent site. Parents can also turn off chat features so children can play online games without direct communication with unknown players.
- Read Movie Reviews Beforehand
The movie rating system gives general guidelines for how appropriate movies are for children, but for reviews and a detailed parents’ guide, visit www.imbd.org.
- Limit the Lyrics
Music services, such as iTunes, also provide parental controls so children can’t listen to explicit lyrics.
- Remain Involved and Attentive
Nothing protects children more than an involved, attentive parent. Take time, maybe over family dinners, to talk about the things your kids are seeing and listening to.
Here are a few more ideas:
- Sit down and watch them play their favourite video game while they explain the strategy to you
- Schedule family video game nights
- Ask which musical artists they are listening to, then download the lyrics and listen to/discuss the music together
- Regularly review the browser history on their computer, tablet and smartphone
- Meet and interact with their friends
- Host game nights and holiday parties for them and their friends at your home
- View movies together, then discuss them afterwards over dinner or dessert
- Review their phone texts.
Deuteronomy 11:18-19 instructs us to “commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”
As we commit to teach our children about God’s Word and His ways, let’s not forget to teach them how to apply that Word to their digital lives. Let’s teach them to “be strong and courageous” (Joshua 1:9), and to be faithful to overcome temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). It’s the best way to protect our children online.