This phone belongs to my 14-year-old daughter. It’s charging on my kitchen counter. At 9 p.m., every single night, her phone shuts itself down and she brings it here.
Why? It’s how I keep her safe.
That phone is free of social media. She has an app that allows her to chat with a handful of friends and family. I know every person she talks to and I check her phone and messages regularly.
Why? It’s how I’m keeping her safe.
My nearly 12-year-old son asked me two days ago if I would connect his PlayStation4 to the internet so he could play with friends outside of the house. I said no.
He had a persuasive argument, filled with many things I agree with him about. Unfortunately, the good does not outweigh the bad. So, I stuck with the original “no.”
Why? It’s how I'm keeping him safe.
These devices, left unchecked, will allow people into our homes at any hour of any day. There is no escape. And I’ve created this home to be an escape.
It’s a safe place for my children. No matter what happens out in the world, I want this house to be their respite, their safe haven, their fortress.
Opening the door to unrestricted internet access allows anyone to enter our home at any time. I’m locking that door.
When it comes to internet access here there is zero privacy. ZERO.
I’ve listened to arguments about privacy and I’ve not heard a single one that made me rethink the safety of my children.
It’s not only their physical safety we are called to guard! We must guard their hearts, their eyes, and their ears until they can make their own rational decisions.
I’m doubling down rather than easing up on this issue. Why? Because I’ve read countless stories of parents who wish they could undo what’s been done.
There are children - CHILDREN - sending pics, videos and other sexual content of themselves to “friends” online.
And it’s not happening out there somewhere- it’s happening in good, solid homes. It’s happening right under our noses.
The fallout of this crisis is yet to be seen. Our boys are exposed to sexual content and pornography years earlier than their fathers and the consequences are immeasurable.
Parents, educate yourselves on the long term damage of early pornography exposure. I know the old adages like “boys will be boys” bring comfort. But I call bull. We are excusing life-altering behavior by assuming that it’s “just what boys do.” No longer is it magazine photos of girls they will never meet - it’s nude pics of girls in their schools.
This is not fear mongering or helicopter parenting, it’s simply common sense.
Check the phones. Monitor their online presence. If you allow social media make sure you’re one of their most engaged followers.
They probably won’t like that. You’ll get some push back. Parent anyway.
I tell my children all the time, “I’m not here to make friends. It’s OK with me if this makes you unhappy."
Why? It’s how I’m keeping them safe.
**For more encouragement and real life stories be sure to follow Sprinkles In My Closet with Jenn Kish.**
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.