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Internet Safety First!

We are living in a world of Technology and whether we like it or not, we need to embrace this new way of life, especially when our children become teens. Our teens have a greater need to "belong" and to feel part of "something." The Internet is a way for them to communicate and connect with their friends. It is a whole different ball game being parents of very young children to that of becoming  parents of teens. We can have a great deal more control over our young ones but as they grow older, everything changes.

1 Peter 5:8,9 " Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith......."

The family today is under attack like never before and parents need to recognise this and develop their own strategy for protection and counter attack. 

Technology has progressed at an alarming rate and as parents we have been caught off guard and left behind. Just as we begin to understand how to use present day technology, a new gadget is introduced into the market. All this "techy info" can be daunting and as a result we have not educated ourselves accordingly and therefore we have lacked confidence in how to use technology. We need to be wise and discerning regarding what we allow and do not allow regarding our children/teens and the Internet. The first step to this is keeping ourselves informed and up to date.

I have prepared this page after doing much research regarding the dangers of Internet and statistics related to this topic. Speaking to other parents and families, I have been surprised to discover how little parents are paying attention to what their children are doing on the internet. They also remain ignorant because they do not know how to use technology. This lack of parental involvement (because of lack of knowledge) have devastating consequences in our homes. Our parental responsibility is to PROTECT the innocence and purity of our children while they are living with us.

Psalm 119:66 " Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands."

On face book alone, hackers are getting into people's face book walls and posting inappropriate content which will be seen by our teens. (Please complain to facebook if you see this!) So if your teen is on face book and you have not placed safe controls on all computers, the chances are, they have seen these images. Teens also need to change their settings on face book so that only their friends can view their wall and friend list. One of the ways hackers get in is posing to be one of your friends because they are able to view your friend details. This happens to adults too because they do not know how to change their settings! Parents, please check the settings with your teens regarding their face book accounts as well as your own account. 

We need to especially protect our boys as they are mostly affected and are more "taken in" by visual images.

Our children know how to use the Internet but they do not know how to use it wisely and safely! This needs to be taught.

When we teach our teens how to drive a car, we walk them through the process, we show them the gears; how to reverse; how to adjust the mirrors; they start off slowly in the neighbourhood and then as they feel more comfortable and gain more confidence, they start driving into town. The physical skill of driving is not too hard. It is knowing HOW to drive safely and wisely and this takes years to learn. Understanding the dangers; being able to look ahead and anticipate - these are things they will learn as they drive  and develop an understanding of HOW to do it safely! So, just as we come alongside them when driving a car, we come alongside them in showing them HOW to be wise and safe when using the Internet. 

This must be ongoing and continuous and if you think you have had a "little chat," with your teen, then you have only been passively involved. Parents need to be actively involved, interacting with their children on a daily basis, as they teach them how to be wise and safe. 

  Here are some Important Statistics to Consider (In South Africa):
1. 93 % of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to Internet p**n before the age of 18
2. 11 years old is the average age of first exposure to Internet pornography
3. 12 % of Internet websites (4.2 million) are p**nographic
4. 56 % of divorces involve one spouse`s continued use of Internet p**nography
5. 28 % of teens in one study had sent a "sext" message
6. 67% of teens have cleared their browser history or cache to make sure their parents couldn't view their online activity
7. less than 15% of parents discuss sexuality with their children.

30% of all data transferred over the Internet are p**nographic in nature.

These are shocking statistics! 

What do the Therapists Say:

90% of therapists see more problems related to p**n use.
94% of therapists have seen a rise in people addicted to p**n.
70% of 18 to 34 year olds use p**n once a month.
From a Cosmopolitan survey, as quoted by Medical Daily, January 20, 2013

One youth minister states that 90% of the kids who come to him for help… all who are from Christian families… are addicted to p**n. 

Did You know?
  • Internet crime is the fastest growing crime in the U.S., and children are the fastest growing victim pool
  • In the U.S., 95% of schools are now connected to the Internet
  • Over 45 million children ages 10 through 17 use the Internet. Among them:
    • One in five has been sexually solicited
    • One in four has encountered unwanted pornography
    • Close to 60% of teens have received an e-mail or instant message from a stranger and half have communicated back
  • Over 75% of Internet crimes involving sexual solicitations of children and exposure to unwanted pornography is not reported to police or parents
You may be thinking, "Well, I do not live in the U.S or a First world country where Internet access is faster and more accessible, so I don't need to worry." Zimbabwe has moved very fast in the last year alone and internet is now even available in the rural areas. Here is a quote from a friend. I have blanked out the name of the organisation.

"For ourselves at ..............., we are acutely aware that our students are already being exposed to this via mobile phones. At a training event last year held in a RURAL area of Zim where one of our teams was running our foundations for family course the participants were asked what was the number 1 cause of marital problems in the community - the answer, from a RURAL community, was 'p**n on mobile phones!!"

Most children know more about the Internet than adults do. As a result, many parents do not supervise their children's Internet use! 

Some Surprising Statistics Regarding Parents:

  • An estimated 20% of parents do not supervise their children's Internet use at all
  • Only 52% of parents moderately supervise their children's Internet use
  • Some 71% of parents stop supervising Internet use by their children after the age of 14, yet 72% of all Internet-related missing children cases involve children who are 15 years of age or older
  • Close to 62% of teens say their parents know little or nothing about the websites they visit
 Tips for Parents:                                                 

As parents, we need to educate ourselves regarding Internet usage and become comfortable using technology. We need to keep up with technology so that we can protect our children and know what they are doing on the Internet. So before you allow your teens on face book for example, educate them regarding the dangers once you have educated yourself!

It is no longer IF your child is exposed; it is WHEN your child is exposed - whether intentionally or not! And you may say, "Well I trust my teen." OR "We speak about these things all the time and they are aware of the dangers so they will be ok." 

It is not about trusting or not trusting your child/teen, it is about NOT trusting the environment they are in. What will your teen do when an inappropriate pop up appears? Or when a stranger wants to chat or send unsuitable images? No matter how much you have spoken about these things, I don`t believe that most teens, (yet alone children) are mature enough to do what`s right or to not at least be tempted to "just have a quick peek?" A quick peek is how it all starts. 

I was reading a little about the brain the other day from this link.  

"From early adolescence through their mid-20s, a teens brain develops somewhat unevenly, from back to front. This may help explain their endearingly quirky behavior but also makes them prone to risk-taking.The parts of the adolescent brain which develop first are those which control physical coordination, emotion and motivation. However, the part of the brain which controls reasoning and impulses - known as the Prefrontal Cortex - is near the front of the brain and, therefore, develops last. This part of the brain does not fully mature until the age of 25."

AND, do you know that College students are the most highly "at risk group" - from the ages of 18-25years old. 70% of these students are viewing inappropriate images! That means 7 out of every 10 students!

So does this mean there is no hope? Of course not! This is just to show that we need to understand that they are more at risk during the teen years until around 25 years. They are likely to show poor judgement and more risky and impulsive behaviours. I would say that this will also depend on individual characters and personalities; an impulsive, spontaneous, irresponsible teen may be more prone and may be more likely to experience difficulties in areas of p**n/drugs/alcohol. If you have a teen who fits this description, then you need to make your teen aware of his/her weaknesses in these areas.

1 Corinthians 6:12 “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”

So How Can Parents Help? 
(These are just suggestions and each family will decide what works best for their situation)

  • Firstly, educate yourselves regarding Internet and technology. 
  • Read the information on this page. I have provided all the information you will need, all in one place for your convenience! The links will offer extra support if you need it.
  • Pray for your children and with your children.                            
  • Evaluate and watch your own Internet habits? We are role models for our children and they will learn from us.
  • Educate your children about the dangers. Examples may include: do not communicate with anyone whom they have never personally met (excluding online school classes), never share personnel details like phone numbers, email/home addresses; never open an email from a stranger or unfamiliar email address, never share personnel details on face book or give out your I.D number/drivers license/social security numbers,
  • Inform your teen to switch off location settings on all portable devices especially if they are sending photos from their devise via the web. Stalkers can view your location details from your photos! See this link for more details
  • Create a safe place for them at home, using safe Internet controls (see links below)
  • Do not allow any computers/devices in bedrooms away from the rest of the family. Keep all computers in one room where everyone is working. More leeway can be granted for older teens.
  • Home alone with the Internet is not recommended. Turn off the Internet when you have to leave the house. Even if you have safe controls in your home, it is also healthy for our kids to make time for other activities like reading, games and interacting with their siblings.
  • As your teen approaches the College years, you can begin to allow more freedom and responsibility. For example, covenant eyes has a filter you can use for a younger teen and another option for an older teen where filters are turned off but accountability is turned on. An Internet activity report is sent to the parent and you can monitor and keep track of what sites your teen has been visiting.                                                   
  • Step by step growth in responsibility will help your teen to practise understanding and wisdom in a safe home environment. This will prepare him/her for the real world. Later, in College, your teen may choose to have an accountability partner where Internet activity reports are sent out to their accountability partner, so that they can choose to safe-guard themselves.
  • Build relationships:
- Communication and involvement is key
- Listen to them instead of lecturing
- Look for signs of change in personality/character in your teen, like: secluded anti-social behaviour, lack of openness with their cell phone, wanting to spend more time alone in their bedroom away from the rest of the family   
- Connect more with your teen and get more involved by finding out what their favourite web site is and what they enjoy looking for on the Internet  
- When you dialog together, ask questions instead of telling them all the info, see what they know and see how aware they are of the  dangers, see where they are at; their views, ideas, struggles. Talk about what they know their friends are getting up to. Keep informed and use your teen to inform you.

- Do lots of family events together and organise special family outings. A teen will also enjoy special times alone with each parent. Make these events priorities over ALL other activities and set them aside on your calenders before you slot in other events.

NOTE: Explain to your teens that you are working together, helping them to be wise and safe in a loving environment. You are on their side. It is also important to ask your teen to inform you regarding any new information that you do not know about. Work together on this! Let your teen know that you need this information and his "expertise." It will create a sense of responsibility in your teen, as well as help you to connect more, knowing that you really do respect his opinion!   

For more information on how parents can help, check out this link: 

"She is clothed with strength and dignity; and she laughs without fear of the future... She carefully watches everything in her household... Her children stand and bless her." Proverbs 31:25-28

Scriptures to Help with Temptation:

Protect your Eyes: 
"I made a covenant with my eyes to not look lustfully..." Job 31:1

Protect your Heart: 
"Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of Life." Proverbs 4:23

Protect your Mind: 
"....take captive every thought to make it obedient for Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5

Protect your Body: 
"Flee from sexual immorality." 1 Corinthians 6:18

John 10:10 Jesus says, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Please be careful of smart-phones, iphones, ipads or any portable devices. Safe searches on these devices are imperative! Do not allow any of their friends to bring their devices into your home! (unless they have organised a special gameing date?) Be careful of sleep overs! Please ask your children`s friends` parents (if they go for a sleep over) whether they have safe controls in their home and make sure that there is no computer or devise that they can have access to that do not have a safe search - like a parents lap top or ipad!!

Judge for yourselves and make your own rules accordingly. 


 Study Workbooks:
Taming the Techno Beast by Todd Wilson 

You can also go through this free study with your children found on this link:

Other Resources: 

Safe Search Downloads:

Open DNS - This will protect every Internet-connected devise in your home. Filters are set from the router level, so ALL adult content is blocked out. It also offers built in anti-fraud and phishing protection. A great choice! Sadly only 1 in every 3 schools use this in the U.S. There is a free option as well as a paying option.

Safe Eyes  This will cost you an annual fee of $50 for an entire family.

Covenant Eyes
You can either choose a filter for younger children or an accountability option for an older teen. This will cost you between $5-$10 per month depending on which safety controls you choose.

K9 safe search -
This will block certain web sites, set time limits, record Internet history and it is free. You can choose and set your own filters from a chosen list. 

My Mobile Watchdog - 
This will monitor text messages, picture messages; it will perform application blocking, web blocking and time blocking. It will cost around $4.95 per month. 

A website with many options to choose from -

Protect cell phones link for South Africa - 

Romans 12:2 "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God`s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Please pass this page onto as many of your friends and family as you can because you care!!

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