parental controls for internet

Screens in bedrooms (even turned off) hurt sleep quality, study says

Research has indicated screen time before bed can negatively impact sleep quality. However, many of us sleep with our phones or tablets plugged in next to the bed. Does the mere presence of a screen affect how we sleep? For kids at least, a new study says yes.

 

The study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, examined data from over four hundred studies, including 125, 000 children between the ages of six and nineteen years. Unsurprisingly, researchers found a “strong and consistent” relationship between screen time at bedtime and inadequate sleep, poor sleep, and daytime sleepiness.

 

More unexpected, however, was the finding that children who had access to electronic devices at night, even if they didn’t use them, also suffered in their sleep lives. In other words, just knowing a smart phone or tablet was plugged in nearby was enough to affect kids’ sleep.

 

While experts have long recommended removing electronic devices from kids’ rooms, most have focused on the safety implications. Kids are much more likely to wander into online trouble with privacy, and any parent would be hard-pressed to monitor their children’s online activity while sleeping or from the other side of a closed door. However, these findings give parents even greater incentive to enforce screen-free bedrooms. Poor sleep hurts kids physically, emotionally, academically, socially– pretty much in every area of life.

 

You can read the full study here. To learn more about screen time and sleep quality, check out another post from our blog by clicking here!

 

Need help putting the internet to bed? Clean Router can enforce the internet curfew on any, some, or all of your home’s electronic devices.

 

 Order your Clean Router today!

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What Every Parent Needs To Know About Teens and Porn

Concerned about the ubiquity of pornographic content and its accessibility to teens, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and the Children’s Commissioner asked Middlesex University to research how many teens have been exposed to pornography and document the effect explicit content has on teens. The study’s findings make it clear pornography should have no place in a teen’s life.

 

*28% of eleven year olds have seen porn

*By fifteen years old, teens are more likely to have seen porn than not

*34% of the teens surveyed reported viewing porn at least once a week

*In a study conducted this year, almost half (42%) of a group of 12-16 year olds who had seen porn said they wanted to try something they had seen.

*28% of teens surveyed had stumbled on porn accidentally; 19% admitted to looking for (and finding) porn

*44% of the boys and 29% of the girls who had seen porn wanted to emulate it

*26% of teens have received pornographic images

*Less than half of teens who have seen pornography (49%) called it “unrealistic.”

 

You can read more about the study by clicking here and the full study here.

 

This study, released just four months ago, indicates that teens are being exposed to porn– some accidentally, and some by choice. While many recognize that it’s not healthy or realistic, a third of teens are watching a great deal of it anyway. Far too many are curious to engage in pornographic acts in real life.

 

Parents, note the statistics. Talk to your kids about porn! This should start with very small children through conversations about kindness, respect for one’s own and others’ bodies. It can grow into discussions about media choices, and how media shapes our thoughts, values, and moods. For teens, the topics can include sexuality, healthy coping mechanisms, and internet habits. You are your children’s best resource and most effective protection. Don’t waste your influence!

 

Ready to protect your home and family with Clean Router?

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Technology is kidnapping our children!

I’m the father of 6 great kids ranging in age from almost 16 to 2. As you can imagine, my wife and I struggle to keep a watchful eye on them. We often find ourselves in busy public places. Shopping with 6 kids is a challenge at best and frequently a total nightmare. Going out to eat with 6 kids can be an expensive adventure. Even getting everyone ready and making it to church on time is tough.

 

20160715_145129My youngest son, Dustin, is a firecracker just waiting to go off. He’s learned many things under the tutelage of his 4 older brothers. He loves climbing on things and jumping off. He’s quickly learned to stick up for himself. He loves running around and playing with anyone who will pay attention to him.

 

I was recently shopping with my wife and some of the kids, including Dustin. We were in the clothing section of the store, and Dustin figured out that it was lots of fun to hide inside the hanging displays of pants and shirts. He continued his game of hiding in the clothing, peeking out, and running to a different location for several minutes. (Yes, I’m one of those parents. I just let him do it. So irresponsible, right?)

 

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At one point I had not seen him for a few minutes. I checked where he last was and found nothing. I walked quickly down the aisle trying to locate him, with no luck. At this point the thought came to mind that he could have been taken by some. My heart pounded and began to ache as that thought sunk in.

 

Fortunately, we were able to find him without too much more effort: he got distracted by toys and stopped hiding in the clothes. However, this experience has allowed me to reflect on the horror of having a child kidnapped. I can’t even imagine an experience like that of Elizabeth Smart.

 

As I’ve thought about kidnapping it occurred to me that maybe someone is trying to kidnap my kids. They aren’t trying to physically take my kids and keep them as slaves, however – sometimes it feels like technology is trying to take them from me. Especially my teenage children seem less connected with me, less loving to the family, less engaged in school, and less interested in spending time with the family when they’ve heavily used their gadgets.

 

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Let me clarify. I love technology! I’m a geek at heart. I love computers, tablets, and phones. My “junk electronics” drawer (as my wife calls it) is excessive and growing. I think so much good can be done with technology, and I have discovered that one of my primary missions in life is to help people use technology in a healthy way. That being said, the prospect of my children being kidnapped by technology is horrifying.

  

If we aren’t careful technology can kidnap our kids in the following 3 ways:

  1. Screen Time – The amount of time kids spend online and on digital devices for many is growing out of control. When the parent is constantly nagging the child to stop using a device it sometimes drives a wedge between parent and child.
  2.  

  3. Pornography – This is a sensitive and complicated topic. Needless to say, we are all concerned about the type of content our children access online. Not only is pornography addictive and destructive it changes how children look at their parents, especially their mother.
  4.  

  5. Communication – Open communication is critical for maintaining healthy relationships. We’ve seen communication methods explode on the internet. Unfortunately, as children become comfortable communicating online they often become less comfortable communicating offline.

 

So, what can be done to prevent this type of kidnapping?! I would recommend we start, as a minimum, by doing the following:

  1. Talk to them – Make sure they understand your love and concern for them. Help them understand the dangers posed by excessive or inappropriate use of technology.
  2.  

  3. Set clear expectations – Don’t keep them guessing. Make it clear to them what your expectations are for them and why you have them.
  4.  

  5. Put reasonable boundaries in place – Once the expectations are clear it is important to set up some reasonable boundaries to help enforce the expectations.

 

How does Clean Router help?

Clean Router can be an excellent help to parents trying to prevent the problems outlined above.  It specifically does the following:

  • Screen Time – The Time Restrictions features gives parents control over the hours and days that devices can connect to the internet.
  •  

  • Pornography – Clean Router was engineered specifically to detect and block pornography.  The filtering build into Clean Router is sophisticated and robust.  It provides a layered approach which actually examines the content (and not just the URL like many other products).  It is fast and reliable.
  •  

  • Communication – Though Clean Router isn’t specifically a means of communicating it can be helpful in two ways; first, it is an easy way for parents to initiate a discussion about the dangers of the internet.  Second, the emailed reports can be an effective way for parents to see what their children are searching for and looking at.  This allows parents to proactively discuss various topics with their children.

 
 

Please don’t allow your children to get kidnapped! You wouldn’t allow a stranger to physically take your children away from you. Why would you allow technology to take them from you? The threat is real. Take action now!

 

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Protecting Young Kids From Porn: A Resource

When do your kids get the birds and the bees talk?

 

The timing of teaching kids about human reproduction and sexuality is a private, sensitive decision for parents. The on-set of puberty is a popular time, though some parents choose to prepare their kids a few years ahead of time.

 

Either way, porn won’t wait quietly for your kids to have The Talk. The average age of initial exposure to pornography is eleven years old. Sexual themes are used to openly advertise products of every kind on television, billboards, and product packaging, and magazine covers. Kids will be exposed to messages about sexuality far before puberty. How can parents prepare them to process sexual elements without compromising their innocence?

 

Protect Young Minds is an online resource specifically tailored to talking to children about pornography and other sexualized content. Full of plans, guides, and scripts, this is a place for parents who love principle-based advice WITH concrete suggestions and examples.

 

For example, what should kids do when they encounter pornography?

 

“My Can DO Plan

C- Close my eyes

A- Always tell a trusted adult

N- Name it when I see it

D- Distract myself

O- Order my thinking brain to be the boss!”

 

Charming, memorable, and appropriate for any age!

 

Another excerpt from the Protect Young Minds blog. This post is titled “Kids Staring At Cleavage? A Sex Addiction Therapist Gives Parents Advice” and you can read it in full here.

 

“So, what exactly could a parent say to a child staring at cleavage on a magazine cover at the grocery store? Here are a few ideas:

“That picture is showing too much of this woman’s breasts. Those are her private parts. Let’s look away and give her the same respect and privacy that we would give to mom [or your sister or aunt].”

Or you could say something like this:

“I can see you are staring at that woman on the magazine cover. It’s normal to be curious about these kinds of pictures. Do you remember that a woman’s breasts are a private area of her body? The people who make that magazine put that woman’s picture on the cover because they want us to look at their magazine.”

Here a parent could turn the magazine over so the picture no longer is showing.”

 

We recommend that all parents check out Protect Young Minds at protectyoungminds.org!

 

 

Why spying isn’t the answer (but monitoring is)

Heart racing, you somersault past the open hallway, hop over the creaky floorboard, and slip into the room. A glance at the clock confirms you have approximately fifteen minutes before your situation will be compromised. You open the laptop, and cringe. A password? Your sources have not prepared you for this! Hopefully your knowledge of the target will help you guess the password. One, two, three attempts fail. One more try…. and in!

 

You scan the laptop’s files, pictures, browser history, and social media profiles. All looks in order. With only seconds to spare, you close the laptop and retreat to safety. Sufficient intelligence has been gathered– at least until next month.

 

If keeping tabs on your teenager’s internet activity has become akin to a spy mission, you may not be protecting your family online in the most effective way. While parents can and should monitor their kids’ digital lives, spying is a different strategy that excludes many opportunities for arming kids online.

 

So what’s the difference? Spying is gathering information without your child’s knowledge, while monitoring is observing your child’s online activity after informing him or her that you can and will be doing so. Spying has possible ethical implications, but the real cost of spying is a lost opportunity for opening a dialogue with your kids and removing an added incentive to stay out of trouble.

 

Do you struggle with talking to your kids about internet safety issues like online privacy, social media, FOMO, sexting and sextortion, pornography, and internet addictions? Here’s a great conversation starter: “Kids, we are going to be monitoring your online activity and social media accounts.” We can guarantee that will get their attention! You will have the floor to educate them about the common online pitfalls and how those mistakes can impact their lives. As the conversations become more natural, your family will feel more comfortable coming to you with their questions. Perhaps best of all, you will never feel reluctant to blow your cover by bringing up something problematic you may find in their digital lives. Educating your kids about internet safety prepares them to form healthy habits that will help them be internet savvy adults.

 

When your kids know they will be monitored, they have more motivation to stay out of trouble. They are less likely to search for content they would be embarrassed to view with their parents, because in a way, they now view EVERYTHING with their parents! While some kids will still try to sneak past Mom and Dad’s watchful eye, implementing the right parental control software can prevent this issue. Look for a software that, like Clean Router, records incognito browsing history, allows you to add websites (including proxy websites) to a Black List,  and filters every device in your home. Acclimating your kids to a monitored computer also prepares them for the workplace, where all computers will be filtered and all browsing history will be recorded.

 

When it comes to keeping your kids safe online, monitoring is the better way to go. An open dialogue in your home is the best internet safety tool and will prepare your kids to face the dangers of the internet as adults. When your kids know that they are being observed, they will have another reason to avoid questionable content and risky situations.

 

Online peace of mind isn’t just possible– it’s essential! Choose a good parental controls software, educate your kids about pornography and other internet dangers, let them know that you are watching their backs, and keep an open dialogue.

 

Ready to give your family the ultimate online protection?

 

Order your FREE Clean Router today!

parenting kids and teens

“Annoying” Social Media Habits: Parental Crime or Parental Necessity?

A recent article on The Guardian detailed “The 10 worst parental crimes on social media.” Written by two 14 year old girls, the article lists 10 things parents on social media do that their teenagers find particularly annoying. However, as any parent knows, just because your child finds a certain rule (or practice) annoying does NOT mean that rule is worthless. Here are the ten social media “parental crimes,” as well as why parents might want to keep on re-offending.

1. “The ‘talk'”

According to the article, “the talk” covers adding strangers on social media and posting “things you may regret later in life.” Sorry teens, but this crime is a must for parents everywhere. We do recommend that parents be more specific about posting suggestive and/or unprofessional content and the short term and long term consequences of what teens post. As the authors pointed out, though, some parents leave out important topics like body shaming and pornography. The best strategy is to have the talk not just once, but continuously.

2. “Hypocrisy”

Teens complain that their parents have one set of rules for their kids and another set for themselves. While it is important for kids to recognize that screen freedom increases with age and maturity, parents should remember that their example will leave a lasting impression. So, if parents institute an unplugged hour, the whole family should probably participate.

3. “Boasting”

The teen authors of the article specifically call out parents who manufacture picture-perfect social media profiles and over share the details of their kids’ success. This is a common problem among social media users of all ages. Parents and teens should come to an understanding about what is and is not ok to post about family members.

4, 5, 6, 7. “Getting Facebook/Twitter/WhatsApp/Instagram wrong”

We understand that teens may be embarrassed by public messages from their parents (as discussed in the article), but it seems nit-picky to complain about parents using various social media platforms “wrong.” Everyone expresses themselves online differently, so we think this is one area in which teens need to cut their parents some slack.

8. “Using bad science”

The examples given were warning boys that keeping cell phones in their pockets would make them infertile and telling teens that keeping mobile devices in their room overnight will interfere with their sleep. While there is a fair amount of support for the latter, it sounds like the real issue here is teens not respecting their parents’ judgement and limits.

9. “Spying”

Of all the “parental crimes,” this one is a must! Now, spying has a secretive connotation, and we believe that parents should be upfront about their monitoring, but parents need to know what their kids are doing online. Many, many online dangers lose their pull if kids just know that their parents are keeping tabs on them. Explain to your kids that you do not monitor out of a lack of trust but because it is your job as a parent to keep them safe and help them grow into responsible, independent adults. The day will come soon enough when you can step back, but it is essential that parents of minors are aware of their children’s online activity.

10. “Asking, ‘What have you been doing all day?'”

It is true that this particular comment can come off as passive aggressive. However, read further in the article: “How can we begin to answer such a question? I am not addicted; I’m terrified. Fear is the oxygen that fuels the fire of all social media. To you it may seem as if I’ve wasted a day staring at a screen, but if I don’t stay in contact with my friends, I feel terrified by what might happen.” This is NOT a healthy relationship with social media. If a parent notices their children spending hours a day on social media or feel anxious at the thought of disconnecting, the responsible course of action is to encourage them to cut back.

 

Parents, your involvement in your teens’ online lives is essential. Teens, responsible parents are aware of ALL aspects of their children’s lives. This does not have to be awkward! If both parents and teens are open about their goals and desires, this can be an opportunity for growth and strengthening parent-child relationships. Be patient, keep your cool, and have a sense of humor. These moments will stay with you both for the rest of your lives, so stick with it and know that your efforts are making all the difference.

 

Here at Clean Router, we believe that every family deserves a fun, safe online experience.

 

Order your Clean Router today!

twitter tips for teens

The Four R’s of Cyberbullying

As you introduce your children to the Internet and to social media, it won’t be long before they encounter cyberbullying. While your child might not be involved directly, he will see it. Whether the bully and victim are friends, acquaintances, or strangers, here’s what you can teach your child to do when she sees cyberbullying.

 

1) Respond

If your child is being bullied, the best response may be no response. However, if your child is only an onlooker, he could be in a position to stop the cyberbullying. According to Common Sense Media, 80% of bystanders do nothing, but when they do intervene, the bullying stops over 50% of the time.

2) Record

This step is applicable whether your child is the victim or the bystander. To prevent a “He said, she said,” scenario, it is important to have a record of what exactly occurred in case the bullying continues or escalates.

 

3) Report

Cyberbullying is receiving both legal and scholastic attention these days. If your child sees or experiences severe cyberbullying, it needs to be reported. At the very least, she needs to come to you, her parent or guardian. The bullying should be reported to the social media app, site, or forum. Together, you may also want to report the bullying to a school principal or the police.

 

4) Retreat

If your child responded to the cyberbullying, tell him not to revisit the conversation. Bystanders intervening in cyberbullying have the advantage of being able to act but not have to face a possible response from the bully. An attack can not hurt if it is not read. Blocking the bully on social media is probably a good idea as well.

 

While cyberbullying can be even more painful than face to face bullying, there are advantages for the victims and bystanders who want to intervene. Computers and mobile devices are equalizers; there’s no need to be intimidated by physical size or strength. Those who are cyberbullied can block and delete the bullies from their online lives easily and effectively. In short, cyberbullying can be fought! Teach your children to join the fight against cyberbullying, and help everyone have a fun, safe online experience.

 

Here at Clean Router, we believe that online peace of mind is not just possible– it is essential!

 

Order your Clean Router today!

internet filter

Do You Need to Talk to Your Daughter About Pornography?

YES!

 

Somewhere along the way, our culture decided only guys use pornography. While it’s true that men are more attracted to traditional, visual pornography (ie pictures and videos), more and more women are using pornography both with others and alone. Recent statistics say that 17% of women are addicted to pornography. That’s about one out of every six women!

 

Don’t know how to start? Here are a few tips.

 

Know what female “soft porn” is

While boys might be introduced to pornography through sexually suggestive pictures or videos, girls are more likely to discover pornography in the written word. Fanfiction, romance novels, or even popular young adult novels introduce sexuality to many young women. Racy “chick flicks” can also gradually desensitize girls to sexual content. A recent book series and movie (that we won’t name and increase web traffic for) has been immensely popular among teenage girls and young adult women.

 

Don’t treat her as unfeminine

Teenage girls have developing sex drives and sexual attractions just as teenage boys do. Yet sometimes we view a boy’s porn problem as the result of normal curiosity but a girl’s porn use as unnatural. Pornography isn’t just a man’s problem because both men and women have an innate desire for intimate relationships.

 

Monitor her electronics

Watch for chat rooms, erotic literature websites, and adult fanfiction forums. Pinterest can also have a seedy underbelly. While what you look for might be a little different, though, the same limits you set for the boys are helpful for the girls. Keep electronics out of bedrooms, put the internet to bed at night, and be aware of what your kids of BOTH genders are doing online.

 

For more advice, check out this article on LDS Living or the pornography help section of our blog!

 

Parents, your daughters are also vulnerable to the dangers of pornography. Remember to protect ALL your family online and block ALL pornography from your home!

 

Online peace of mind isn’t just possible– it’s essential! Clean Router will block all online pornography from your home (a porn blocker, if you will) on every device.

 

Order your Clean Router today!

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Talking to Your Young Children About Pornography

Too many parents, when picturing talking to kids about pornography, imagine gathering teenagers around them for a conversation about sexuality, addiction, and violence. However, statistics indicate that that the average age of initial exposure to pornography is eleven years old. Other anecdotal evidence reports that many children see pornography as young as second grade. Clearly, if you are waiting until your kids are teenagers to talk about pornography, you are waiting far too long.

 

If you are squirming at the idea of talking about sex with a seven year old, though, you are not alone. While some parents do enlighten their children on sexuality at this age, other parents want to wait a little longer. So, how do you guard your young children from pornography in an age appropriate way that fits your family’s values?

 

What many parents do not realize is it is not necessary to talk about sexuality to teach your children about the dangers of pornography. As April Perry explains in this Deseret News article, many of the values of pornography are the antithesis of respect. Violent pornographic content, for example, is degrading to both parties, and so therefore indicates a lack of respect. To quote Perry in the article:

 

“You don’t have to tell a 5-year-old, ‘Pornography is graphic and violent and teaches us to disrespect each other, so we don’t look at pornography.’

Instead, try this: ‘Do we hurt each other for fun?’ No. ‘Is it funny or nice to watch other people hurting each other?’ No. Or if you’re really feeling bold: ‘What if someone tries to show you a yucky movie or pictures of people hurting each other? Is that something we should look at?’ No!”

 

The values we are already teaching our children (respect, kindness, integrity) are the same values that will protect them against the lure of pornography. We may have to make the connection for them, as the above quote demonstrates, but we have already laid the foundation by teaching them prosocial behavior.

 

Parents, guarding your young children against pornography is vital, and it’s easier than you think. Teach them to respect and care for others, maintain those values in your home, and make the connections as they grow. Then, your children will be able to not only recognize pornography, but to see why it has no place in their lives.

 

 

Block all online pornography from your home!

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The Best Internet Safety Tool: It’s Not What You Think

The internet may seem scary, but it does not have to be. Surfing the internet can be unsafe, but so can rock climbing, skiing, driving, and many other worthwhile activities. All risky activities can be enjoyable and life-enhancing given the proper instruction and tools.

As a parent, it is your job to provide your children with the proper instruction and tools to use the internet. We highly recommend that all families use the Clean Router, our internet filter that can block pornographic content from your internet network. However, a good internet filter should be only one tool in your internet safety kit.

The best internet safety tool? It is not an internet filter. It is YOU. Research has indicated over and over that the best way to shield your family from the effects of internet pornography, social media, and cyberbullying is to have frequent face to face conversations with your children. Talk about internet etiquette and social media. Talk about pornography and wasting time online. Talk about the importance of spending meaningful time off-line, and set the example.

These conversations may feel awkward at first. But, the more often they happen, the more natural they will be. Before and after you talk, remember to listen. Find out how your kids feel about selfies and nasty comment threads. Because technology comes so naturally to teens and tweens, they will have insight that you do not. As your older kids grow, they can become a valuable resource for helping you teach their siblings about internet safety.

 

Just don’t forget that YOU are the best internet safety tool.

 

To learn more about protecting your family’s internet activity and how to get online peace of mind, click here!