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Raising Kids in the Internet Age

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Raising Kids in the Internet Age

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"Kids will be kids."

"Every generation has had to deal with negative peer pressure."

"I remember what it was like being a teen. Kids have always pushed at the rules. It's not so different today. What's the big deal?"

Reality Check

Sound familiar? As parents and grandparents, is this how we think? If so, then it's time for a 2006 real-world reality check. Today it's like the temptations of the past are on steroids.

•Schoolyard bullies have migrated to the Internet where anonymity has fueled even more vicious attacks with less chance of being identified and held accountable for their painful defamation campaigns.

•Talking on the phone for hours with your best friend has blossomed into IMing, chat rooms, MySpace accounts and daily blogs, in addition to instant audio and visual access to your friends via cell phones. In addition to concerns about the content of this constant communication, some of these new methods can open naive children to new dangers from identity thieves and sexual predators.

•Begging your dad to let you play the latest rock hit on the family phonograph is archaic in this world of iPods and PCs. The latest movies, videos, songs and games are available 24/7 via the Internet, cable TV and cell phones. And the violence and sexual content has increased exponentially.

•Every imaginable sin and perversion makes its way onto the Internet, set to snare new generations into accelerating spirals of sin.

We have great kids in the Church who are striving to live godly lives—but that doesn't mean they aren't exposed to (and influenced by) the society around them.

The instruction that God gave to parents thousands of years ago (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) still applies to us today. Binding God's words on our hands, keeping them as frontlets between our eyes and writing them on our doorposts is more vital than ever.

It is naive to think that our children will somehow absorb what we value and believe just by living in our homes. We must help our children see the world they live in through God's eyes. Of course, this presumes that we have laid a foundation of love and trust with our children where they feel comfortable talking with us about what is really going on in their lives.

Navigating the Internet Responsibly

Are you teaching your children how to navigate the Internet in a responsible way? The book of Proverbs warns young men to avoid the enticements of immoral women on the street corner. Today, the street corner is in our homes via the Internet and our TVs. Banner ads for cyberporn and online gambling are just a click away.

Some parents find it helpful to draw up an Internet contract detailing guidelines for the privilege of using the home's computer online. Many children are familiar with this concept since they have to sign such a contract in order to use the computers at school. Children and parents sign the contract after discussing the terms and conditions.

Sample contracts, plus other helpful tips for parents regarding how to safeguard their kids on the Internet, may be found at sites like komando.com/kimskidscontract.html, www.wiredsafety.org, www.isafe.org and www.mindoh.com.

Another informative resource for parents who are fighting the culture war battle is Home Invasion: Protecting Your Family in a Culture That's Gone Stark Raving Mad by Rebecca Hagelin (2005). This 288-page book details numerous ways that society around us does invade our homes.

It also includes helpful suggestions and 38 pages of resources covering everything from Internet filters to where to get values-based movie reviews (www.pluggedinonline.com) to hundreds of other groups, counselors and Web sites that can help parents as they encounter new challenges as their children navigate their way to adulthood.

As parents, we mustn't abdicate our role as our children's primary teachers regarding godly, moral values. God commands us to teach our children—His children—from His tree of life.

If we don't, how can we expect them to battle the negative influences from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that entice them from every side? UN