Sunday, July 24, 2011

Media and Our Parenting

Hi!  Welcome to my blog where today I am linking to Women Living Well for Media Monday.  Today we are discussing Media and Our Parenting.  This is such a big topic in today's life.  I know twenty years ago when my husband and I started parenting, many things were not even an item that are SO important now.  My children are all adults now.  When they were little I didn't have an IPad.  But I do have a Blackberry now.  We text and stay in contact a lot with tweets, emails and photos going back and forth.

Cell phones are probably one of the biggest concerns under this topic.  Kids start carrying cell phones at very young ages now.  I know children who have had them at 8!  I know and understand that it is very important to be able to reach your children, and for them to be able to reach you.  I think it would be wonderful to be able to get a phone where the only number that could be called were ones that were programmed in.  That way your child could only dial a parent, or someone else you authorized.  This probably already exists, and I am unaware because I don't have that need anymore.  But I think that would be a good tool to control cell phone use in small children.  Back before all cell phones could get free texting, our daughter was being "bullied" by some other girls through cell phone usage.  They texted her line so many times, our cell phone bill was Fed Xed to us in a box, and was over $1,800 for the month!  The company understood that we did not use texting before that bill, and numerous people were texting each an every minute for a couple of days.  The bill was reduced and our children lost their cell phones. 

I feel that children should not have Myspace or Facebook accounts.  But many will any way.  My daughter, today is 22 years old.  So the story I am going to share is not about keeping young children away from technology.  This is about not realizing that something can happen in your family.  Our daughter befriended a male on Facebook.  She did not know him, but he was already friends with her cousin and her twin sister.  None of the three girls actually knew him, it just appeared someone knew him.   He was from out of town, actually out of state.  He never said much on my daughter's page, occasionally commenting on a photo, etc.  She never commented back to him.  In April, where we live in Alabama experienced tornadoes.  Our whole county was without electricity for over a week.  This young man did not see my daughter on the Internet for over a week.  We did not know that he thought he and my daughter had a relationship of some sort.  He got in his car, and drove 16 hours to get to the town my daughter works in.  She had on her facebook page the name of the business where she works, and he was able to guess what town she was in from googling her name.  He rented a motel room for a week and made plans to see my daughter and see what developed from there.  He walked in my daughter's place of business and introduced himself.  He said he could tell the future and he knew she would not be in Alabama much longer.  She called me, I called the police, and the story goes on.  He was in town for a week.  Any time he made physical contact with my daughter the police were called and reports were made.  When she started avoiding him, he started contacting other family members and voicing concern over not being able to get in touch with our daughter.  He was so nice people were answering him!  I had to ask everyone not to answer him because he was a stalker.  What if my daughter had not had family to support her?  What if he had been able to make his first contact with her when she was alone?  The outcome may not have been what we would want.  I hate to think about it.  We never think these things will happen to our family.  My daughter was certainly old enough to chose to be on Facebook.  She didn't think she put enough person information on the Internet for there to be a problem, but she was wrong.  Check what your children are doing and be aware.

I found out when my daughters went to a Private/Home school, that there are Christian social pages available.  A couple I remember were, and Lifespace.  I sure there are others, and this might be something you'd like to look at closer.

One other thing I would like to share from past history.  I had a reason once to "google" my child's name.  I was surprised at what showed up posted on another child's social page about my daughter (different daughter).  So sometime try that.  It may not be your child doing the posting, but the information could still lead down a dangerous path.

Computers take a lot of time away from our families.  Whether it is the parent or child using them.  I think families that I have know who were most successful in controlling what there children did on the computer, kept the computers in a public place in their home.  We never had more that one when our children were small, but today, I think I would do that.

I think limits on TV time as well as video games should control any problems or abuse of these items.  What your child watches should also be open to discussion and review.  Just this weekend some children from church stayed overnight.  The 9 year old girl kept talking about and wanting to watch 16 and Pregnant and Teen Moms.  I said the girl was too young to watch such a show and we didn't watch those at our house.  She said, "why not?"  I said it was a trashy show and she didn't need to spend time watching something like that.  I felt like I was putting my foot in my mouth, and should really not be having this discussion.  Later she and her 11 year old sister came into the room my husband and I were in.  The History Channel was on that television.  Her sister said, "Ya'll watch shows like that?"  and her younger sister said "yes, they are Christians".  I don't know what they watch at home.  It was a very odd conversation, and very unsettling to me.

It might be a good idea to have your child's email passwords so you can check their account usage.  I do think that being able to email and text your child could lead to discussing things the child may not want to talk to you about face to face. 

It is obvious Media will only become a bigger problem in the future.  This is a subject we need to stay aware of and continue to monitor to protect our families. 

Thanks for stopping by! 


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