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The Perils of Present-Day Parenting

20 Feb

We, the current generation of parents, are pioneers. We are leading future generations into territory that, in the history of parenting, no other generation has had to explore. We are Charles Lindbergh, Neil Armstrong, Jacques Cousteau and Christopher Columbus. Except instead of going out on wild adventures and coming back to inspire our kids with the tales of our exploits, we are letting our kids commandeer the vehicle while we try to shout instructions from the curb.

I’m talking about today’s technology. Our generation’s parents did not have to deal with this. The toughest technological argument they had to respond to was, “Why can’t we sign up for touch-tone service? It’s so not fair! None of my friends have to wait this long to dial nines and zeroes!”

The world is different now. And we are the first generation of parents to be raising kids in this different world. We also seem to be the first generation of parents who have completely forgotten that we still have the authority and the responsibility to set healthy boundaries for our kids in this dangerous world. It appears to me that the general rule of thumb is to let our kids have the technology because their friends have it and we can’t avoid it anyway and we’re sure they’ll be fine.

We cannot bury our heads in the sand on this. Let us forge our way into this new territory boldly, bravely and wisely.

Take Facebook, for example. Facebook has a minimum age of 13 for its users. Sure, there are some kids who could probably handle the responsibility earlier than that, and there are some who should wait a bit longer. You, as the parent, have the rightful authority to keep your child out of the social networking realm until they mature some more. You, as the parent, should also be the one to firmly put your foot down in respecting the user age set by Facebook.

Helping or allowing your child to fudge their age undermines your authority and blurs the picture of integrity that you should be trying to exemplify for your children. There is a moral problem in teaching your kids that it’s okay to pick and choose which rules they want to follow based on whether or not they like those rules. If you purposely break these rules with your kids and still expect them to obey rules that you set, this double-standard will eventually bite you in the backside.

Beyond the legalism, though, let’s look at the logic. The Internet contains a lot of fun, safe and educational things. But it also contains a lot of dangerous, sinister and downright evil things. The latter are often disguised as the former, and it’s difficult to distinguish the two even for adults. The sooner you let your children loose on the worldwide web, the sooner you introduce them to danger. The more unsupervised access you allow them, the more susceptible you are making them to other people’s evil intentions.

We cannot be naïve or passive about this. If you want to let your children make poor choices in life so they can learn from their mistakes, let them eat too much candy or go to school without mittens or jump off a swing.

The Internet is not a safe place to let them test their wings.

There are bullies and stalkers and predators actively searching for your precious babies. There is violent content aimed at piercing young hearts. There is pornography that is one click away from stealing your angels’ innocence and trapping them in addiction. And the marketing…merciful heavens, the marketing! There are ads on almost every existing website and they are targeted at convincing your children that they cannot possibly be happy without this new gadget and that new toy and all of these upgrades and add-ons.

All of that is right there, growling and seething like attack dogs, waiting for you to let your children come out and play. And there is no one else in the world who is going to step in and protect your kids if you don’t. You are the barrier – the only one holding back the dogs.

So please, be that barrier. If your ten-year-old wants a Facebook account, tell him no. If your eight-year-old wants to sit and watch youtube videos unsupervised, tell her no. If your twelve-year-old wants to follow questionable characters (“stars” though they may be) on Twitter, tell him no.

And stick to it.

You need to be vigilant. The phone you let them use is your phone and you have full access to everything they do on there. The laptop you let them use is your laptop and you have full access to everything they use it for. The internet connection they use is your internet connection and you have full access to track and restrict where they go. Because these are your children.

I know you can’t control all of it. They will go to friends’ houses and school and they will likely work hard to escape your scrutiny. But don’t let that be an excuse to not scrutinize. Tell them over and over again why the boundaries are in place. Talk about safe internet practices. Have parental controls on your home connections. Check the sites that they are visiting.

Yes, they’ll probably think you are overbearing, archaic and malicious. But that’s just the joy of parenting. So let’s do it well, for Pete’s sake. And Sarah’s sake. And Caleb’s sake. And Emily’s sake…

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11 Comments

Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Family, parenting, Uncategorized

 

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11 responses to “The Perils of Present-Day Parenting

  1. Sandy

    February 20, 2013 at 4:23 PM

    I was a very mean parent. We had dial-up when my kids were teens. No one got the password until they were 16, and then I usually hung around behind them when they were on the internet. So mean. 🙂

     
  2. Dad

    February 20, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    What`s with the “About these ads” video at the end?

     
    • Anita Neuman

      February 20, 2013 at 5:12 PM

      The video is an ad that WordPress allows on there. You can click the “about these ads” to read more details about the ads.

       
  3. suburbanprincessteacher

    February 20, 2013 at 8:58 PM

    Hi Anita, Good advice. I tell my children that so long as they live in my house, they don’t have any privacy. If they follow the rules and don’t give me any reason to be concerned, I won’t go through their personal things but if I feel I have any reason to worry, I will read your emails, take away your phone and do whatever I have to do to keep you safe. If don’t like it, cry me a river. (p.s. So far, I haven’t had to do any of those things and they are 14 and 17. A litle bit of fear…it’s a good thing.)

     
  4. Tammy Bull

    February 20, 2013 at 9:33 PM

    Thanks for following through on this, my friend!
    Next time, feel free to use names, I have no shame, as you know, and am already known as ‘the mother to fear’ in our church circle!

     
  5. janetdubac

    February 21, 2013 at 4:42 AM

    Good advice! Keeping track of your kids’ activities not just on the internet but on other things as well is better than leaving them and letting them do all the things that they want to do. We should always be there for our kids to guide them and let them know what’s right from wrong. Thanks for this post An! 🙂

     
  6. ShelleyB

    March 21, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    I have to say, that you’re brilliant (I’ve always thought so) and extremely on point! I am the archaic meany, and my kids “never get to do anything fun”. But that’s more then okay with me.

    And as for being tech savvy enough to pilot the adventure road called the internet…that’s why I married such a wonderful man! 🙂 I’m the co-pilot on this, but that’s what team work is for. He has made sure that everything this so locked down, even our Netflix is only able to be opened with a password!

    I’ve seen these young girls with their FB pages, and I’ve been told by the “parents” (quotes used because being able to give birth doesn’t make you a parent) that they like to play the games.

    Really? Is there no other place to find games for our little ones? Really??

    Ok, better stop. Starting to rant!

    Anyway, love reading your blog!
    I’ll say it one more time, just so you’ll smile again!! You’re brilliant!
    ~S

     
    • Anita Neuman

      March 21, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      That really did make me smile! Thanks, Shelley!!! ❤

       

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