Thursday, January 22, 2015

Smart(?) Phones ~ What Can Parents Do?

When I was a child, the only phones we had were the ones attached to the wall, one upstairs, and one downstairs.  They had no screens (only the Jetsons could see the people they were talking to) and pretty much anyone could hear what you were talking about.

Yes, things have changed.

Younger and younger children now have access to a whole world by looking at a device that fits in their pocket.  The technology has raced forward, and sometimes parents are spending all of their time playing catch-up.  This morning I heard an article on BBC World Update about an organization (The Raising Awareness Project) in the UK that interacts with young people and their parents to "raise awareness about personal safety and prevention in areas of rape and sexual assault." Pretty heavy stuff.  What caught my attention was the fact that most of the inappropriate and explicit material that young people are accessing is being viewed on smart phones. This got me thinking. We set up filtering on our computers at home, and the school network has filtering and monitoring in place; but when young people access the internet from their phones through AT&T or Verizon, then what?

Of course, simply setting up filtering is not enough. Age-appropriate open communication with young people must happen. Common Sense Media has a number of resources for parents as does Focus on the Family. Technology, like anything else in our world, must come under the authority of Christ in our families and our lives. He is not surprised by anything. He is not old-fashioned. He knows more than we do about what is out there on the internet and what our children are exposed to. He is the ultimate Wisdom in an increasingly complex world. I am grateful to belong to such a big God!

I have collected some resources for you to access on this topic:

Focus on the Family - Parenting Resources (When Children View Pornography)

Common Sense Media - How Do I Talk to My Teen About Sexting?

CNET Article - How to Keep Smartphone-Using Kids Safe (a 2012 article, but still relevant)

How to Set Up Parental Controls and Content Filtering on Android Phones

How to Set Up Parental Controls and Content Filtering on iPhones