Kids & Technology: How we filter content for our kids in our home.

We live in such a connected world. It’s hard to come to a decision of whether or not we want our child to have access or be accessed through the technological world. Kids are getting cell phones and tablets at younger ages now-a-days and it’s easy to get to that point where your kid wants to be a part of the technological world. I am by no means judging anyone out there. I am simply giving my story, from my own experience.

My personal opinion is that Screen Time can be like a drug in the sense that it DOES bring endorphin release but too much of it can be addicting. It can bring relaxation, peace, help us wind down after a long day, or even be an avenue of learning or time with our families.

Do I think technology is evil? No, I have been known to binge watch a few shows myself! However, just as the saying goes, too much of anything can be a bad thing. Also, unfiltered content for our kids is just asking for trouble. That being said, I would like to share some of the ways we can be mindful of the content that is entering our homes through technology.

Television/Cable

Public Television: Okay, television is a tough one as I feel that it is kind of a free for all. Unless you have a good handle on specific local programming and make sure your child only watches during certain shows or times, this is definitely one that we steer clear of because I just never know what commercial may come on.

Cable TV: I have personally made the decision that I would rather have to type in my personal pin number on our cable device each time I would like to watch something than for my children to end up seeing something I feel they shouldn’t. We have set the limits under parental controls and used a pin that only my husband and I know.

If there is a way of knowing your history, opt-in. Accountability is your friend and being able to know if a child accessed something will help you stay on top of keeping those filters active. Because let’s face it, they are smart and they may have your pin figured out in no time. (little code crackers hahaha!) Our cable service and some of those smart tv’s out there have capability of accessing apps such as YouTube or Netflix as well. So, if you can put a lock on access for those, go for it as well. I know it seems like a hassle, but there is peace of mind knowing your children can’t access it without you knowing about it. There are a lot of different settings so make sure to go in and see them all.

Ipad/Tablet:

We have parental locks on these too. There is an area under settings on the Apple devices such as iPads, iPhones, & iPod touch. Under General Settings you can place restrictions on the device. We both require a password to get into the iPad and a password to download an app. This way I can control when my children are using their devices and I can do a little research if needed on apps. A good resource I have used for researching is CommonSenseMedia.org Also, another good resource is Focus On The Family’s Pluggedin.com These sights give very good insight into the movies. Some may have spoilers, so be warned. Although, I’d rather a spoiled movie than a spoiled child.

Remember, each child is different. Some games may not be necessarily bad, but our kids’ brains are still developing and some games are quite intense and can cause nightmares or anxiety.

I have a rule for my kids, if they ignore me, or can’t “hear” me, when I’m talking to them then the game is too intense and cuts into what’s more important, which is family and being respectful. They also know that if they get cranky when it’s time to get off, then the device is having more of a negative effect than a positive one and they won’t be able to play as much.

Just trust your gut when it comes to games. Listen in on their conversations when discussing the games or even while they are gaming. You can really get a sense of the feeling coming from the game and be able to talk with your child about them readily.

Laptops:

My son had to get a laptop for school otherwise I honestly think my child would not have gotten a laptop at all in my household. I would much rather prefer a home desktop computer in a communal room where someone can see the kids at all times. However, since it was a school requirement, as soon as we got the device I set up a parent account right away as soon as we set it up and I set up a child’s account.

Microsoft allows me to set the internet controls on this laptop. It will even send me a weekly report and allow me to set up a time limit on the laptop. I can block websites if I need to. There should also be restrictions on what can be downloaded onto the computer. You should always set yourself as an administrator. This not only helps with safeguarding your child but also protecting the laptop from unwanted downloads.

I know, I know, our middle-schoolers don’t want to be called children. What I have helped our kids realize is that child accounts don’t mean that they are children or that I think they are too immature, it means that there are people out there who actually seek to harm others and these are just stronger defenses against those people.

We talk about accountability and about honesty in our home. Checking in with each other is not a childish thing to do. It is a thing we do because we are family and we care about each other. We hold each other accountable.

Netflix:

Yes there is also the ability to set it to where you can have a pin for anything that is being accessed beyond the rating that you set it at. Also, you can add shows to the list. So, for example, maybe you don’t want your child to turn into a whiney child like Calliou. Or if you’re like me, you just really can’t stand a few shows out there.  Well, now you can specifically add certain shows you don’t want your kids watching. You can set the level that is freely allowed and then ones that require a pin. Praise the Lord for the extra sanity in our house! More info on that here.

YouTube/ Kids YouTube:

Nope, nope and nope. We have some very strict rules about youtube and honestly there is so much dark content out there that I do not allow my kids to watch youtube unless I have a very close eye on what they are watching. The account on the television is connected to the account on my phone. There are only a few YouTubers that I allow them to watch and they know who they are. If I have to step out of the room for a second I can see what they are watching on my phone. I can even pause it or change the video from my phone as well. Honestly, some of these youtube channels drive me insane. They make me very anxious. I don’t know if it’s all the yelling or the non-stop talking or maybe the background music but we try to refrain from youtube as much as possible.

However, while watching together there are very many channels that we do watch with the baby. There are plenty of animal sound songs, phonics, regular nursery rhymes that are fun and relaxing and even my oldest kids will sing along.
(For the baby’s sake- *wink*)

I also use youtube for their 8 hour baby lullaby and sounds. It has rain sounds and ocean sounds and I even put it on when I can’t sleep and it really helps us all relax. The baby knows when it’s nap time as soon as the sounds come on.

This article gives the exact reason why we don’t put our trust in apps, even if they are kids apps. Read further for info on Kids YouTube.

Gaming:

We don’t know a whole lot about this one other than what is on our iPads but my kids know that we do not allow anything that allows chat or access to people on the web. Usually if there is access to stuff like that, the game will have a higher rating. You should always at least check. This is one of those areas that always gives me the creeps because some random stranger could be talking to our kids. Ew.

Now, I know there is so much more out there and more in-depth walkthroughs on how to put those safeguards in place. I’d love to share a bit more on that content but I fear I’d write a whole book. If you have questions feel free to ask me. Or if you need more help filtering content don’t hesitate to ask a sales associate or to get someone who is very tech savvy to help you. Your kids are worth it!!

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

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Using God’s Word to Correct in Your Family

This is such a great article. And as we dive into this week’s challenge, Encouraging & Positive Words: The word of God is the best word out there! Let’s incorporated the word of God in every aspect of our parenting! Click and follow the article below for an amazing read on this topic!

Reboot. Or maybe boot camp. Something of a control-alt-delete sequence is how this parenting class has felt for me. My husband and his friend have been leading a parenting class at our church. As couples, we led a similar class about 5 years ago and it’s not that I’d forgotten everything or that an

Source: Using God’s Word to Correct in Your Family

“I’m Sorry, We Don’t Do Sleepovers” & 4 Reasons Why Not

I agree completely with the following article. I have come to that decision that my kids just don’t do sleepovers. Night time is a very intimate time that I honestly feel should be reserved for only immediate family. There should be instant access to a rebuttal (if needed) for any topics of conversation that happen and night and definitely no room for any chance for making a bad choice because of lack of supervision at night.

Even as youth pastors, we have had lock-ins and the reason why I hate them so much is because we are on high alert, walking around the room, and we get ZERO sleep. Other adults may fall asleep intermittently but I just can’t. These kids are on my watch, I have to stay awake all the way through.

Also, if there is one thing that I hate most as a parent is finding out that someone told your child not to tell their parents about something happening. Like really? You understand you are fostering deceit in my child’s life? Nope, we are a tell all family. My kids don’t keep secrets from me. (I mean I’m sure they do here and there) but they know the rules. They can come and talk to me whenever they want. Sadly, I say I’m sure they do because people in their life have confused them here and there to say, “don’t tell your mom.” EEERRRRRG. It’s an uphill battle and we’re working on honesty. But, if you don’t want the parents to know, then it shouldn’t be happening! If it accidentally happened, the parents should STILL know! Truth is always the right path.

I’m good with saying no to certain movies, no problem, but sleepovers is a hard one. And it’s not because I lack conviction.

Source: “I’m Sorry, We Don’t Do Sleepovers” & 4 Reasons Why Not

We are Made for Brave When Life is Hard – Crystal Twaddell

Sometimes life is hard. Pain comes. Grief, betrayal, suffering, and sickness are all a part of living in today’s world. Sometimes putting on a brave face and moving forward is the last thing that we want to do. This is when knowing how to access the courage needed to brave the worst hard makes all the difference.

Source: We are Made for Brave When Life is Hard – Crystal Twaddell

Nature Vs. Nurture

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Most of us are aware of the great debate of Nature Vs. Nature.

Maybe she’s born with it, Maybe it’s Maybelline? Nope, beyond that.

What are we born with and what comes from coaching and training? I know babies are innocent but we have a sinful nature that we are inclined to follow and be guided by from a very young age.

Let’s take a simple example, patience. This is one thing I have seen “grow” in my children. Something I have had to nurture. We aren’t born with patience. A child doesn’t understand patience AT ALL. Have you ever had to drive home as your infant was getting hungry? No time to warm up a bottle. No time to make a bottle. Just step on it and get us home before we damage our child for life. HA! the pressure! There is no longer ride than the ride home with a screaming baby, even if it’s only a 4 minute drive!

As parents it is our job to help our children LEARN patience. We are definitely born with a selfish nature. Does anyone remember the commercial that said, “IT’S MY MONEY AND I WANT IT NOW!!!!” Oh gosh, does that remind me of childhood. I can’t wait for what I WANT! I WANT IT NOW!

Now, babies aren’t wrong. They are hungry, tired, cold, hot, sleepy, gassy, and/or bored, and this is their way of communicating. I am not saying babies are sinning. No, they are being blatantly honest about their needs.

Now, fast-forward to the child who is 5 or 6 years old. By this time, patience should be better than that of a 6-month old. Why? Because they’ve had some training. The training could come from being told to find something to do while waiting, a little more knowledge of the concept of time and the measure of time, or possibly learned coping mechanisms from watching the people in their family during a time of wait. Either way, patience is learned. This fruit of the spirit is grown and tended to. At some point in our lives patience is tended to by our self.

We must grow in our walk with Christ. It is a daily battle against flesh.

Galatians 5:16 reads:

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Let’s help our children walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh. Let’s help them be more and more like Christ each day of their lives.

CHALLENGE FOR THIS WEEK: Give up one “selfish” thing this week and replace it with and act of service or kindness for someone else.

For Example: Maybe you have $5 on your Starbucks gift card and were looking forward to a drink for yourself. Give up that coffee for someone else and pray for that person. Ask God to bring someone to mind that may need a pick me up and prayer.

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Ten Parenting Practices That Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem

This is such a wonderful article! We need to build our children’t self-esteem!! Please read this one parents!

Ten Parenting Practices That Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem

After jumping down from a  tree at the park my son stood up, did a little victory dance and then ran off to play on an obstacle course. It’s a pretty tricky course that requires balance, agility and coordination. It looked like it would take him a while to have it mastered. Sure enough my son struggled […]

Source: Ten Parenting Practices That Build Your Child’s Self-Esteem

Crippling Fears

Let’s face it. We live in a scary world with possible danger at every turn. We worry about safety and often have thoughts that are frightful and reinforced by stories on the news or from others. How do we protect our kids from such a scary world without crippling them and sheltering them too much?

We’ve been given a job, but that job isn’t to insulate our children from every risk and every pain that is bound to happen because of it. Our job is to ultimately help our children become the best version of themselves as adults. The truth is that most pain brings growth and we must develop a mentality that helps us to allow our children to grow and become the best adults they can become.

I once expressed my fear of losing my children to a scary world, whether it was physically or spiritually. Another mother quickly shared with me a moment in her life in which her child was playing on a playground. Her daughter climbed to the top of the equipment to go down a big slide and fell. Her daughter was at what seemed to be a point of no return when being tended to by a medical team. However, miraculously her child survived the fall. It was in that moment the mother realized that what happened to her child was out of her control. She was simply having fun on the same playground with so many other children. Her child could have died! She realized how little she really controlled whether or not something bad would happen to her daughter. It could have been anything. Yet, she couldn’t live her life in fear and never allow her child to experience anything ever again.

I realized the stories I had heard in the past of children being hurt in different ways and realized, yes for the most part it is out of my control unless I am to sit and watch my children like a hawk and protect them from every harm I think may happen. (In that case, no sharp objects, no heights, no tools, no stoves, no foods that may have bacteria, no food that isn’t prepared by myself only, and the list goes on and on.) I am reminded of the lady in the story “A Series of Unfortunate Events” telling my children not to hold a sharp pencil or touch a stove or this or that because of the risk of something bad happening. What a horrible life to lead. A life in fear.

Psychologists in Europe have found that if a child never goes outside and is never allowed to experience pain, such as the dreaded skinned knee we have all most likely experienced at some point in our lives, they will be more prone to experiencing phobias as adults. How will a child ever know the levels of pain if they never get bit by an ant or step on a sticker.

One example I can offer is when we lived at a house which was riddled with goat heads. I hated our backyard and it was a big endeavor to try to rid it of goat heads. Our children would often time track them in when they would step outside. We all had our share of hopping around on one foot while pulling one out of our feet. Now, like most people we all hate getting shots. My son was due for one and I spoke to him about the pain of stepping on a goat head and was able to have him think about goat heads while the nurse administered the shot. He didn’t cry, he didn’t even budge. I asked him, “Which hurt worse?” He immediately responded, “The goat heads hurt worse! Definitely!” Wow, what a teaching moment for both of us.

Kids need to fall a few time to learn that it’s normal. They need to experience difficult friendships or relationships as teens to recognize the difference between true friendship and false ones and even how to BE a good friend to someone else. If we as parents completely remove risk from our child’s life, we may in the long run harm our child, causing them to be fearful, have low self-esteem, never learn to be a good friend, and never learn to lead by example and teach from their own experiences.

Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

Just as trials bring patience, many other things we experience bring growth in many other aspects of our lives. We may not wish pain on our children and we should never purposely put them in harms way, but we should allow them to take risks and experience life without fear.