Ryan and I have realized something. We have some full blown addicts living in our home – screen addicts – an addiction that seems to have hit harder with our male offspring than it has with our daughters. We have a few children who really, truly believe that the world will come to an end if they are not able to get their daily fix on one of their devices. We are well aware that this is not just a Ronne family problem, and in fact, there seems to be an entire culture completely devoid of skills outside of using screens. We’ve explained to our children that when we were children, we did not sit in front of screens for hours on end. We had lives – lives which involved activities outside of succumbing to the pale, blue, ever flickering lights. They don’t seem to care.
They (the experts, our kids, our subconscious selves) tell us that this is a new generation, a different time, a fresh era, and screens are not going anywhere, and we get that. We really do and honestly, I’m just as guilty as any of my children. I use the internet frequently for shopping, staying in touch with friends and family, staying informed, marketing my upcoming book, researching whether or not I’m going to die from the latest skin outbreak, and anything else that might catch my fancy. I am, hands down, on the internet more than any other family member. I own that truth, but I’m also an adult who is capable of usually making wise choices when it comes to the influence I allow the internet to have in my life. My children are still in training and need some guidance and direction in this delicate area.
Prior to the birth of our 8th child, our family engaged in limited access to anything screen oriented. Since Annabelle was conceived, these restrictions have loosened considerably and have continued to relax as we are now raising a baby and are quite often in the midst of a sleep deprived reality (and crappy weather). We admittedly find parenting eight children significantly less stressful and demanding if most of those kids are zoning out in front of a screen for a portion of the day. It’s a short lived phase, I get that, but it doesn’t mean I like it.
In the process of screens becoming a consistent part of our reality, Ryan and I have become aware of two issues needing to be addressed. The first issue deals with security and safeguards. How do we keep our children innocent and more importantly safe in their exposures through the internet, social media, and other avenues? The second area of concern addresses the possibility of using screens to our advantage while living and working in a rural community. Our kids, due to our rural environment and the size of their family, may not have the exposures or advantages that a two child family living in the city may be able to experience. Is there some way that we can possibly bridge this gap for our children through media and screens?
This post deals with the first issue involving safeguards and security. The next post (which I promise won’t take months to write) will address how we’ve decided to use the screen culture to our advantage out in the middle of nowhere.
First safeguard –My oldest boys and my husband were both exposed to pornography at young ages. I hate this for all three of them, but it happened, and I’m determined to keep pornography out of my home at all costs. I won’t use this post to get into the harmful effects of this virtual drug, but the effects are real and they are prevalent. A fantastic resource to check out for more information on this subject is www.fightthenewdrug.com.
To do my small part in this battle, I started a Facebook Group, Innocence Restored, for parents and/or concerned adults where we are able to address and combat the problems that children are exposed to via the internet and social media. Within this community we share ideas, concepts, strategies, questions, and additionally encourage one another in an attempt to restore innocence in our homes while gaining an understanding of all things internet oriented. What one parent may not understand in terms of a particular app or site, another parent may be able to explain. Ignorance is erased, knowledge gained, and knowledge is power. We need all the power we can get in this fight for our children.
Second safeguard. –EVERY DEVICE IN OUR HOME IS PASSWORD PROTECTED. And, every computer is out in the open.
Third safeguard – This one may be slightly controversial in today’s day and age, but we do not allow our children to have cell phones. I’ve seen and read numerous reports linking cell phone usage with rising brain cancer rates – especially in children whose brains are still developing. I’m not going to argue the truth or untruths of these studies, but this is not a risk I’m willing to take. Additionally, just because “Mom and Dad have one” doesn’t mean my child is entitled to one. Mom and Dad have lots of privileges because we’re Mom and Dad. We’re not children anymore; therefore, we can purchase what we want to purchase with our money. I suppose at some point, maybe when our sons and daughters have jobs, they will be more than welcome to purchase their own phone and data plan. If it’s a priority, they’ll make it happen, but in the meantime, it is my job as a parent to provide clothes, shelter, food, and necessities, but a cell phone, in our family’s situation, is not a necessity.
Fourth safeguard – Opendns.com is a free web filtering software that connects directly to a router. It’s easy to use, filters all the junk, and safeguards any device connected to WiFi – including any outside device that enters your home and connects to your Wifi.
Fifth safeguard – We recently purchased a product called The Circle (www.meetcircle.com). This is an amazing little, white box that has revolutionized our lives. We currently have seventeen devices set up through this product (smart TV’s computers, kindles, Ipods, Ipad, cell phones, and gaming systems). Each device has its own profile setting, safeguards, and bedtime. The one time investment of $100 has put the control back in our hands with what we are going to allow in our home with the internet and social media. We no longer wonder or second guess what the kids are discovering online or with their apps, and it’s all secure and detailed with the click of a button at the main station. I am not tech savvy; however, this is EASY! Really. Truly. It’s a good product, and it can make your family great again (I’m starting to sound like a politician). Fantastic product if you’re looking to regain control and peace of mind in your home. Check it out.
That’s all I have. Any other suggestions out there?
Stayed tuned. The next post will take learning to a whole new level.
Just keep livin!!