Now that the holidays are behind us and we actually have some time to relax, I have a very important question to ask you. Did you give your child a smart phone, tablet or computer for Christmas? If so, did you install online parental controls or filtering software? I am a teacher of 23 years and a mother of 8. I have three teenage boys at home and this is a priority in our house.

According to a 2011 Microsoft Corporation Study 64% of parents DO NOT use parental controls or filtering software. The same study showed that 67% of teens have cleared their browser history to hide their online activity from their parents and 31% do this on a regular basis. What are they trying to hide? Without parental controls or filtering software smart phones, tablets and computers are monsters lurking in the shadows. Did you know that 25% of teens are exposed unwillingly to nudity online where they aren’t looking for it? 42% of kids first view pornography before the age of 13 and 78% before the age of 18? If that doesn’t break your heart then this will…the largest consumer of internet pornography are kids ages 12 to 17. When I read this it broke my heart but it also made me very angry. These are our babies that are viewing this inappropriate material. “Pornography is defined as any image that leads a person to use another person for their own sexual pleasure. It is devoid of love, intimacy, relationship or responsibility. It can be highly addictive.” So why aren’t parents protecting their kids online activity?
There are many reasons:

1) Parents are busy with the daily duties of life.
2) Parents aren’t aware of how much time their kids actually spend online.
3) Parents don’t realize the prevalence of pornography and how it can impact their kids current and future lives and relationships.
4) There are just too many internet devices to monitor.
5) Parents feel inadequate in internet enabled devices and just are overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.

What can parents do? Protecting our children online needs to be a priority!!!! Do not allow the internet monsters to control your child’s life! What can a parent do?

1) Install parental controls and filtering systems on all internet enabled devices.
2) Be aware of anonymizers. Anonymizers are secure websites that allow teens to visit other websites without being tracked which means that teens can anonymously surf the web without the protection of filters or accountability.
3) Use YouTube’s safety mode to guard against adult content.
4) Set Google to safe search to automatically filter inappropriate search results.
5) Know what they download using peer-to-peer networks.
6) Limit the time they spend online.
7) Review and set parental controls periodically.
8) Monitor their mobile devices. Don’t buy it if you aren’t going to monitor it!
9) Talk to your kids!!!

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