For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also ~ Matthew 6:21
“I had to spend four hours at the Verizon store, kids in tow, to get my new phone,” a close friend shared in a recent conversation over coffee. “Wow, that’s a long time,” I thought (as I tried to not spit out my Starbucks).
But it was worth it, she continued to share, because she had something she really wanted: the latest smart phone with all the bells and whistles, complete with a pink neon Otter Box to protect it.
What struck me was not the fact that millions of us are doing the exact same thing every day—waiting our lives away for our Prized New Device (hence the lines outside the Apple store)–but rather this:
Would we be willing to spend that same four hours to actually protect our devices (if that’s what it took)?
Asking the Wrong Questions?
If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over? ~ John Wooden
Each week at the Covenant Eyes call center, thousands of calls come from individuals inquiring how to protect their computers and devices from inappropriate content. Of these calls, there is a common trend in the questions received:
How long will this take? Can we get this done in 10 minutes? Will it take me the entire day to install on all my family’s devices?
For most, getting protection does not usually register high on the fun-o-meter. And so it gets put off.
It could be we’re not the least bit tech savvy and the thought of configuring software makes us break into a cold sweat.
Or perhaps we’re too busy to deal with the occasional technical issues or workarounds needed to properly protect our devices. Maybe we’re stuck in the “research” phase, waiting and scouring the Internet for the perfect solution for the family.
Whatever the reason, a growing number of families today are: Not. Doing. Anything.
In a recent survey by FindLaw.com, it appears that when it comes to protecting our children on the Internet, parents are worrying more about their online safety, yet a growing percentage are doing less about it.
“The vast majority of parents are taking at least some steps to protect their children from potentially dangerous aspects of the Internet,” said Stephanie Rahlfs, an attorney and editor with FindLaw.com. “But the numbers are declining. Parents are taking fewer precautions to protect their children, even though parents are more concerned than ever.”
Gambling Your Family’s Safety?
When parents decide to wait or go it alone with their family’s Internet safety, they’re making a choice to gamble against the odds. But with gambling, there are always more losers than winners. And every day, more and more parents are losing at the game. It might sound really dramatic if it weren’t true. It’s heard in the stories from many moms and dads who wished they’d done something sooner. It’s seen in the news headlines, where we’re left shocked at how quickly perversion can manifest in one’s life, charting a very different course.
Maybe your son or daughter will not be in the:
- 90% and 60% respectively who are exposed to online pornography before age 18.
- 71% of teens that hide their online behavior from their parents.
- 20% of 16-year-olds and 30% of 17-year-olds who have received a sext.
But know the numbers are not stacked in your favor. Are you willing to keep gambling?
Don’t Wait Any Longer: Carving Out Time To Stay Safe
Protecting your family online is more than just installing software or setting parental controls. While those are very important first steps, the journey does not stop there.
If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of keeping up with all the technology, the apps, and potential dangers, here’s some quick and practical ideas to help keep you sane, your family protected, and foster important conversations.
- Get it on the calendar. Like most people, if it’s not on the calendar, it won’t happen. Take the time to schedule a monthly technology check-in. Check-ins could include things like doing an app inventory on your children’s devices or making sure that all your devices are properly covered.
- Stay Informed. Don’t feel like you have to scour the Internet to keep up – let the important information about family safety and technology trends come to you! You can subscribe to blogs like this, along with monthly newsletters to keep you on your game.
- Keep talking. Continually engage your family by dialoging about the latest apps or technology headlines in the news. When you’re in the car, ask your kids questions like “How do you feel about this?” and “What are some of the positives/negatives to this app”? You’ll show your children that you’re dialed-in to what they’re dealing with and creating safe spaces to share.
Lastly, consider this. When your kids are at visiting their friends’ house house, are they protected there too?
If you have friends or family who’ve put off getting protected on the Internet, please encourage and educate them.
Today they can find dedicated Internet safety companies, who truly care about the safety of their families, who are specialized in helping the non-technical, procrastinating, and impatient. Companies that are passionate about helping each family’s unique needs.
Things to look for in an Internet safety company:
- Customer support. Does the company only offer support by e-mail or chat? It’s important to be able to call and talk with a real person if you need to, so make sure the company offers great phone support.
- Location. Does your company use outsourced support or is it in your region? It’s important that you feel comfortable when calling and able to understand the instruction given without language barriers.
- Resources. Do they offer free resources, such as e-books, blogs, and educational videos, to help you stay informed, educated, and supported?
Parents, don’t not do anything. Don’t go it alone. Take the time to invest in your family’s safety today.