by Andrew Cromwell
If you’re anything like me, there are days when you feel like the world is moving faster than you are. From what I hear on the news, it feels like I should be tweeting on Twitter, posting clever photos on Instagram, making funny short videos on Vine, and posting reviews on Yelp. Oh, and I probably should be sending inappropriate photos of myself on Snapchat and looking for “no strings attached” hookups on Tinder.
And while I’m definitely not doing most any of these things, I also get the sense that my kids either are doing it right now or they will be soon. And that’s a little scary because I’ve read some of the statistics:
- 22% of teen girls and 18% of teen boys have sent/posted nude or seminude photos of themselves.
- 1 in 3 teens have experienced online harassment.
- 44% of tweens have watched something online that their parents wouldn’t approve of.
- At least 25% of 10-17 year olds were exposed to porn they weren’t looking for last year.
As a parent, I can either throw up my hands and just give up or I can boldly enter into the fray. My wife and I have picked the second strategy. We have decided we are not going to allow the media and our culture to determine what our kids are exposed to. Our goal is not to control and restrict but rather to proactively protect and teach our kids how to deal with this amazing tool called the Internet.
Our philosophy is that we know better than our kids. Sure our kids can fix the computer, set up the TV and generally run circles around us with technology, but we KNOW better about what is good for them. We have experience. We have more experience and have a better perspective on what they should see and when.
This is why we make our kids eat their vegetables. It is why we don’t let our kids—who are all under 13—watch scary movies before bed (or at all). It is why we don’t let our kids go on the Internet unsupervised. It is why we have talked to our kids about the types of things that are on the Internet and discussed what they should do when they see something they know is not right. BECAUSE THEY’RE KIDS.
So let me encourage you parents out there who care about protecting your kids’ innocence and preserving their ability to communicate with other human beings in person, to put restrictions on your kids’ electronic devices. This is a tough thing to do, but it is worth it.