Protect children online with Clean Router

4 ways to porn-proof young children (without shattering their innocence)

When do you need to start talking to your kids about pornography? According to internet safety experts, it needs to begin before your kids go online for the first time. Sounds reasonable, right? Maybe fifteen years ago, but thanks to tablets and mobile devices, most kids are using apps and streaming shows before their third birthday. Sure, you might begin explaining the basics of human reproduction to a three year old, but most parents aren’t ready to break down sexual violence, addiction, exploitation, and safe sex at this point.

 

Luckily, you CAN prepare your little children against pornography in an effective and age-appropriate manner. Here are four things you can do– and none of them involve a nitty-gritty sex talk.

 

1. Teach them to respect others’ personal boundaries

Pornography is intensely confusing because it blurs the line between consensual and non-consensual sex. Research indicates that pornography users are more likely to support violence against women and to sexually harass others. You might not be ready to talk to your child about sexual harassment, but you can teach him or her from toddlerhood to respect others’ bodies and boundaries. Have firm rules in your house that no means no, and if someone is not enjoying a certain activity, that form of play stops immediately. If your child develops these values, he or she will be able to recognize the unhealthy dynamics of pornography, no matter his or her age.

 

2. Respect THEIR personal boundaries

Here’s the flip side of respect– children need to have their bodies and boundaries respected as well, even if the activity seems harmless or someone’s feelings will be hurt. Pornography is tricky– it tries to create gray areas where boundary violations and abuse seem acceptable because of who did it or because the person whose wishes were ignored seemed ok afterwards. As a parent (or grandparent, or teacher, or caretaker), your job is to demonstrate their bodies and boundaries should be respected unless there’s a hygiene, medical, or safety need involved. Sorry, brushing teeth has got to happen, kiddo.  But unwanted tickling and kisses? Should be a no-go.

 

3.Watch TV with them

Media is unrealistic, and that’s often what makes it fun. Sometimes the fantastic aspects are obvious– dragons, Jedi, zombies, balloons that can lift a house. Other times, though, it’s less obvious– put-downs that don’t hurt feelings, inept adults, implausible romances. Kids need to consume media alongside parents or trusted adults to open a dialogue about what is real and what isn’t. This can prevent media of any kind, including pornography, from warping their developing expectations.

 

4.Kindness counts

This one’s simple: pornography shows everything except kindness. The higher value you place on kindness in your home, the less likely your children will be to perceive a lack of kindness as attractive. Gordon B. Hinckley, a prominent religious leader, once said that love “is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion.” This is what pornography doesn’t show– and it is what children of any age desperately need to see.

 

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3 things your kids need to know to be safe online

 

Remember when surfing the internet meant tying up your phone line?

Your kids probably don’t! This generation is more tech savvy than any previous generation, and some of these kids begin their internet experience even before they begin school. Here are three things they need to know about to be safe online.

 

1. Pornography

Make sure your child is educated about pornography: what it is, how it will harm them, and how it harms others. Online pornography is pervasive; it is almost certain that your child will be exposed to it. Does he or she know what to do when this happens? Come up with a strategy such as turning off or covering up the monitor and immediately finding a trusted adult. Teach your kids internet accountability, that they are responsible for what they view online.

We post articles frequently on our Clean Router Facebook page about pornography’s effects on individuals and society. These articles are a great resource for talking to your children about pornography.

 

2. Scams

A flashing banner inviting your child to click to claim a brand new iPad can be very tempting if he doesn’t know any better. Teach your children to avoid ads and to recognize illegitimate websites.

One popular scam is fake customer service numbers. Make sure your children know to never dial a customer service number unless it comes from the actual company’s website!

 

3. Privacy

It’s easy to forget that social media is a public forum. Remind your kids that if they wouldn’t put it on a billboard, they shouldn’t post it online or send it in a message. This includes messages that are supposed to disappear or be deleted and even “private” online storage. Several celebrities recently learned the hard way that nothing digital is perfectly secure. Teach your children how to adjust their privacy settings on social media but not to take that privacy for granted.

Giving your child online street smarts is just as important as reminding him to wear a bike helmet or talk to strangers appropriately.

 

Check out our other posts on helping your kids be safe online!

 

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How to parent in a digital world– FREE Webinar!!

Hi, I’m Caryn, and I handle business development at Clean Router.

 

Hi, I’m Rachel, and I’m social media manager at Clean Router.

 

But we’re also moms, and we want to talk to you moms to mom (or moms to dad) today. I have two teenagers. My kids used to spend way too much time on the internet, and we never really knew what they were doing or seeing online. They would flop on the couch or their beds with their phones after school every day and stay there for hours!

 

 

I have three kids ages four, two, and seven months. When my oldest  child was born, I was amazed how quickly she started reaching for my phone! I thought online safety and screen time limits were for moms with older kids, but my toddlers can’t get enough of smartphones and tablets. My four year old is almost as tech savvy as I am, and my two year old can go from app to app in seconds. Even the crawling baby will “sprint” across the floor to get to a device!

 

 

Last year we attended a seminar at my daughter’s junior high where an assistant chief of police and his partners talked about the dangers of the internet. He explained how popular websites and apps make sex trafficking so much easier for predators. They see cases where predators talk to kids online, gain their trust, and convince kids to meet them. He told us the average age that a child is exposed to pornography is age nine.  NINE!! I was scared to death! My 8th grade daughter had a phone, a laptop, and an iPad. My 6th grade son had an iPad. My kids are smart, and I thought I could trust their good hearts to keep them out of trouble. I realized then that as smart and good as my kids are, I can’t expect them to outsmart adults with years of experience grooming and manipulating children.

 

Clean Router for Every Device in Your Home

 

My toddlers and I like to watch animal videos or clips of Disney movies on YouTube. They love getting to be the one to hold the device and pick the next video. When I read online about disturbing YouTube videos featuring characters from children’s media, I was horrified! As closely as I watch my kids on their devices, I worried that they would be faster than me or that I could be fooled by a misleading thumbnail. I know I can’t shelter my kids forever, but preserving their innocence until kindergarten doesn’t seem too much to ask!

 

 

We may work for a router company, but neither of us is a computer whiz. 

 

You’ve got that right! But it doesn’t take a computer science degree or IT experience to keep your kids safe online. We at Clean Router have put together a webinar with easy internet safety tips any parent can implement!

 

 

Best of all, it’s FREE!

 

The webinar, hosted by Spencer, our CEO, and Ryan, a member of our support team, will take about thirty minutes. They’ll review some statistics about pornography and internet safety and walk you through creating a plan to keep your kids safe online. You will get a chance to ask questions about internet safety, and there will even be a prize at the end!

My family has created an internet safety plan that works for us. It’s simple enough that my toddlers understand the rules, and it’s easy and practical enough for me to keep in place on the craziest days.

 

I put my kids’ devices on a schedule. Now they sleep better at night and we spend more time together as a family during the day!

 

Sign up now for our next free live event!

 

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Forget Momo, here’s what parents really need to understand about YouTube

If you clicked on this article hoping to read about Momo, you are in the wrong place. The horrifying creature has already gotten more attention than she (it?) deserves, and I’d rather not waste any more words on her. And I certainly won’t be including any pictures.

 

Momo captures every parent’s worst fear about the internet, so the story has understandably caught fire online, but she (it?) has not changed anything about YouTube. The reality of the dangers of YouTube are larger than any one threat of questionable veracity.

 

But I just emerged from under a rock and have no idea what you’re talking about!! What’s Momo?? Pleeaassee??

 

Fine.

 

Momoisaterrifyingpossiblyfemaleprobablyfictionalcharacterthatappearsinthemiddleofseeminglyinnocentvideosofcartooncharactersandtellskidstohurtthemselvesandthreatenstheirparents’livesiftheytell.

 

Ok, that’s all the time I’m giving this subject. Moving on…

 

It does not matter if Momo is real or a hoax. Well, it matters to YouTube, law enforcement, and filtering companies like us, Clean Router. But for parents, nothing has changed. YouTube is still a microcosm of the internet as a whole: fun, weird, educational, dumb, incredibly useful, dangerous, uplifting, and capable of wasting hours of your family’s time. With that said, there are some specific aspects of YouTube parents need to understand to protect their families.

 

1) Filtering options exist, but they are not foolproof

Our CleanYouTube is awesome. YouTube Kids is pretty good. Neither are a replacement for parental supervision. Because billions of people can and do add content daily, filters have a hard time keeping up with all the new content. Block YouTube and any alternative your family uses. When your kids access YouTube, insist they do so in a public area of your home with an adult present. Kids think they won’t run into trouble because they are not looking for it; parents may think the same. But the reality is…

 

2) YouTube has gotten sneakier

Not the company themselves, but the users who upload inappropriate content. Obviously the “Girls Gone Wild” videos are trouble, but seemingly innocent options can have yucky surprises. It’s been well-documented over the past few years that videos of popular cartoon characters like Peppa the Pig and Elsa engaging in disturbing behaviors have flooded YouTube and are even slipping by YouTube Kids’ filters. The thumbnail and title contain no hint of the inappropriate content– there is literally no way to know if the video is ok until it’s too late. Gone are the days when raunchy sidebar videos were the most insidious YouTube threat.

 

3) Keeping your kids safe on YouTube requires more vigilance than other online content

Because disturbing YouTube content appears out of the clear blue, visiting YouTube is just more risky than accessing other parts of the internet. For parents, this probably means setting stricter rules. As suggested above, blocking YouTube is wise, especially with an option that allows temporary access with a password, like Clean Router. If you normally require kids to use computers and mobile devices in public areas of your home, you may want to require an adult in the room while using YouTube. You might allow some unstructured web surfing, but make your kids tell you exactly what they will be watching on YouTube, then leave the site when their video is finished. If you choose to allow younger children to watch YouTube videos, you should probably be next to them. On YouTube, secrets and privacy should be nonexistent.

 

Specific internet threats come and go, but the overall danger level of the internet and particularly YouTube stays more or less the same. Even if a scary face is not currently on the front page of Google News, pornography and other disturbing content still exists online, only a few clicks away from your kids. Parents, embrace the cat videos, because if your kids are watching, you should be too.

 

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Guest post from Mom Loves Best: Why Excessive Screen Time for Kids is Dangerous & What to Do About It

Today we have a treat for you readers: a guest post from Jenny Silverstone, the chief editor and author of Mom Loves Best, a research-driven parenting blog that aims to educate parents on essential topics such as children safety, health, and development.

 

Take it away, Jenny!

 

Do you worry about the amount of screen time your children get each day?

You are not alone. According to a recent report by Common Sense Media, 66% of parents are concerned about the amount of time their children spend on devices. Surprisingly, 50% of teens agree with them.

While technology can open many doors of information and be used for great good, there are also many risks involved. In a society equally obsessed and reliant on technology, how can parents regulate screen time for kids?

 

How Much Screen Time Should My Kids Get?

Screen time for Kids InfographicExposure to media and technology is an inevitably for all children, whether at home or in school. In fact, it is important for your children to be able to understand and utilize the tools available to them.

However, the dangers of smartphones, computers, televisions, and movies, come when they are overused. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has set forth recommended guidelines for how much screen time your child should have each day:

  • Children under 18 months: Screen time is not recommended for children under 18 months. Babies are unable to gain anything from media, though the AAP says video chatting is fine.
  • Children 18 to 24 months: You may begin introducing media to your child in limited amounts.
  • Children 2 to 5 years: Limit to one hour of supervised screen time a day. Choose positive and educational programming. The AAP discovered this screen time is useful most often when parents watch with the children and explain what they are seeing.
  • Children 6 & older: At the age of six, the AAP suggests parents begin determining how much media is appropriate for their child, setting guidelines and making sure media usage does not interfere with your child’s physical, emotional, or mental well-being. Two hours a day has been generally suggested.

It is important parents not only focus on how much screen time their children get, but also on the quality of media they consume. Parents should watch and discuss media with their children, teaching them how to apply what they see to their everyday life.

The Dangers of Excessive Screen Time

There are a number of risks associated with excessive screen time for kids:

  • In young children, screen time has shown to negatively impact learning development. Because they are focused on the screen, they miss opportunities to interact with parents and participate in creative play, two essential activities for learning language, problem-solving, and behavioral skills.
  • Children of all ages have experienced impaired sleep schedules with excessive screen time, having difficulty falling and staying asleep.
  • Screen time of any sort is a risk factor for childhood obesity, with children consuming over 150 extra calories on average per hour of television watched.
  • The bright lights of screens can cause vision problems, headaches, and irritability.
    Communication and interpersonal skills are inhibited.
  • The longer the exposure to a technological screen, the higher the risk.

 

Cutting Down on Screen Time as a Family

The best way to cut down on screen time for your children is to join with them. Making a goal as a family will help everyone remain diligent and accountable. Here are five tips to reduce the amount of screen time you are exposed to:

  1. Designate “no-screen” areas of your home. The best place to start is the dinner table.
  2. Have a plug-in station at night in a public area. All cell-phones are plugged in to be charged overnight, but not available to use.
  3. Try unplugging an hour before bed if you can.
  4. Use this website, sponsored by the AAP, to create a Personalized Family Media Plan. You can also calculate how much time your family spends on a screen.
  5. Avoid placing televisions and computers in bedrooms.
  6. Find a loud timer to keep track of how much screen time your children get. In the hustle and bustle of life, it is easy to lose track of time. You can also use special routers to make setting time restrictions easy.

 

Thanks for joining us today, Jenny!

 

At Clean Router, we understand how difficult it can be to slow your family down and keep them safe from the negative side effects of technology. That is why we strive to provide you with a simple tool to monitor all of the media in your home.

 

Let us help you manage your screen time for kids!

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Protect children online with Clean Router

New research links excessive screen time and hyperactive behaviors

New research presented at Neuroscience 2016, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, links large amounts of screen time during childhood and hyperactivity behaviors.

 

Researchers have hypothesized that a great deal of sensory stimulation can predispose young children to attentional deficits like ADHD. Obviously, ethical considerations prohibit testing this theory on human children, so the researchers had to use mice. The unfortunate ten day old rodents were exposed to six hours of audio-visual stimulation a day for several weeks. After the exposure period, the mice showed hyperactive behaviors, impaired learning and memory, and increased risk-taking behaviors. Additionally, the mice were more susceptible to cocaine, and the mice’s brains had changed in addiction-related areas. To read more about the study, click here and scroll to page three.

 

While these results may seem alarming, keep in mind that not all human children spend six hours a day watching television or on the iPad. However, this information may be useful for parenting kids with a family or personal history of hyperactivity or addiction. This study also highlights how malleable the brain is in early childhood and supports the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations for limiting screen time for very young children.

 

Parents, it can be exhausting to enforce screen time rules– especially when kids are on break. Let Clean Router do the work for you! Clean Router will block un-kidfriendly content on every device in your home, set schedules for your kids’s devices, and even put the internet to bed at a decent hour.

 

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New Research Links Excessive Screen Time and Suicide for Teenage girls

In the most sobering study on teens and screen time yet, researchers have found teenage girls who spend large amounts of time on computers and mobile devices were more likely to experience depression and attempt suicide.

 

The study used data from two nationally representative surveys that followed adolescents between the ages of thirteen and eighteen years old and national suicide statistics from the same age group. Researchers particularly focused on the effects of “new media”– any type of media having to do with computers. This includes some of the most popular forms of media among current teens: social media, apps, gaming, etc.

 

Researchers found that adolescent girls who spent three or more hours per day on a screen were 34% more likely to have a suicide-related outcome (suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempts). This number rose to 48% for girls who spent five or more hours per day online. These measures of screen time specifically excluded time spent on homework! In fact, girls who spent more time on homework reported lower depressive symptoms. Interestingly, this study did not find a correlation between excessive screen time and suicide-related outcomes in adolescent boys.

 

What can parents do? According to this study, moderation and balance are key. Depression and suicide-related outcomes were actually higher in teens who reported no screen time than teens who reported one hour of screen time or less per day. This may indicate the importance of in-person socialization for teens, as the study’s data linked social media use to spending time with people off-line. Print media use (books, newspapers, etc.), playing sports, physical exercise, and attending church were also found to predict lower levels of depression and improved mental health. Sadly, this study found that today’s teens are doing more of what makes them depressed (excessive screen time) and less of what makes them feel better (reading, exercising, attending church, socializing off-line). Dr. Twenge, lead researcher on this study, believes this is why suicide rates among adolescent girls have sky-rocketed in the last five years.

 

You can read the study in full here.

 

It’s more important than ever before to keep your family safe online and help your kids develop healthy screen habits. Clean Router monitors all activity on your internet network, blocks pornography and adult content, and helps you enforce a healthy schedule! Try the Clean Router Proven Process today!

 

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Rebecca Black Writes About Cyberbullying in NBC Essay: “It was open season and I was the target.”

Rebecca Black was only thirteen years old when her music video, “Friday,” went viral. A deluge of scorn and mockery followed. Six years later, she opened up about her experience in an essay on NBC: “What I Learned from Being a Target of Internet Hate at Age 13.”

 

As parents, when we read about cyberbullying, our first impulse is to protect our children, to keep them from becoming targets. While understandable, this knee-jerk reaction is unhelpful, because our first impulse should be to prevent our children from becoming bullies.

 

Surely not our children, though. Never ours! And yet, as Ms. Black points out in her essay, “It is increasingly obvious to me that every single one of us is experiencing pain, and trying to deal with it in one way or another.” No matter how privileged or pampered our children may seem, each one has disappointments and hurts he or she is trying to emotionally metabolize. When we don’t properly handle emotional pain, we can’t contain it, and we end up weaponizing our pain and hurting others. Ms. Black calls this cycle “the chain of pain.”

 

When the internet became accessible to all, suddenly all hurting individuals, all of us, gained an outlet. We could rant and rave, mock and threaten, all from the safety and anonymity of our computers. We could tear another person to shreds without ever seeing his face. In a few short decades, the chain of pain has become infinitely broader. Research shows that cyberbullying is more destructive than face to face bullying because the victims can never escape. They open their laptops and find hate. They turn on their phones and are told they are worthless. Is it any wonder teen and tween suicides frequently appear in the headlines?

 

Obviously, we should all keep careful tabs on our children’s digital communications– read texts, follow social media profiles, and periodically check private messages. However, this is the not enough. We must teach our children to end the cycle– to break down and digest hurt, disappointment, and rejection instead of passing it on. Rather than insisting “My child would never,” we need to make sure our children have healthy outlets and coping mechanisms for stress and disappointment. We also need to teach them to intervene if they ever witness or learn of online or offline bullying.

 

It was easy to make fun of Rebecca Black’s music video. The lyrics were uninspired, the singing heavily autotuned. We all forgot on the other side of the screen there was a thirteen year old girl with a dream. She didn’t deserve our unkindness, and neither does any other victim of cyberbullying.

 

To read Rebecca Black’s essay, titled “What I Learned from Being a Target of Internet Hate at Age 13,” click here.

 

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Pornography use predicts decreased religious observance in teens and young adults, study says

Faithful families, take notice! A recent study suggests that viewing pornography leads to lower levels of religious observance and belief in God.

 

The researchers, Samuel L. Perry of University of Oklahoma and George M. Hayward of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wanted to explore “how viewing pornography may shape young Americans’ connection to key social and cultural institutions, like religion.” They used data from the first three portions of a nationally representative, longitudinal survey of young Americans. When the survey began, the participants were between thirteen and seventeen years of age. At the end of the third portion of the study, the participants ranged in age between eighteen and twenty-four years old. For those unfamiliar with academic research procedure, such data is difficult and expensive to obtain and considered the “gold standard” of data collection.

 

Upon examination of the data, Perry and Hayward found that, the more often teens and young adults viewed pornography, the less often they attended church and prayed. The participants who viewed more pornography were also less likely to value religion, perceived less closeness to God, and had more religious doubts than those who did not view pornography.

 

The article reiterates previous research in noting the probable role of cognitive dissonance in these results. In other words, religious individuals who engage with pornography feel the conflict between their actions and their religious values. Such conflict is extremely emotionally uncomfortable, and we as humans either change our values or our behavior to alleviate these feelings of guilt and shame. Unfortunately, changing one’s values is often easier in the moment than discontinuing habit-forming behavior like pornography use.

 

To read the study in full, click here!

 

Research shows again and again that pornography erodes the best of each of us: our values, our self-control, and our relationships. Parents who want to protect their homes and families can no longer afford to do nothing! Talk to your children about online pornography from infancy. Initially, these conversations won’t be about sexuality or explicit content, but about kindness, respect, and house rules for technology use. However, these simple themes will lay a foundation and prepare both the parents and the kids over time to tackle more advanced topics like pornography, self-control, social media use, and more.

 

Talking to your kids about pornography can be intimidating, but it is easier than it sounds and absolutely essential. Click here to read more about family internet safety on our blog and start the conversation today!

 

Ready to block all online pornography from your home with Clean Router? Try the Clean Router Proven Process!

 

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Here’s why your kids shouldn’t watch TV before bed

A new report in the academic journal Pediatrics confirms what we already suspected– kids shouldn’t be on electronic devices before bed.

 

The researchers, a team from the University of Colorado, analysed all past literature on electronics, kids, teens, and sleep. They concluded screen use in the hour before bedtime was, in almost all studies, associated with worse sleep. Why? The researchers presented three possible explanations.

  • Time displacement
  • Psychological stimulation
  • Effects of “screen light” on the physiological process of falling asleep

 

Time displacement simply means the kids stayed up later than planned because they were watching tv. Since all of us adults have watched one too many episodes of our favorite show (especially since the advent of Netflix and the auto-start feature), it’s no surprise that kids, with their underdeveloped impulse control, frequently ditch their bedtimes in favor of another round of Minecraft or another episode of “Stranger Things.” We would probably all be better rested and get to bed on time more often if we turned off our electronic devices an hour before bedtime.

 

Then there’s the fact that our favorite games, shows, and apps are designed to be exciting. After all, that’s why we enjoy them! But such psychologically stimulating content works against our kids at bedtime. While you and I may be able to drift off just fine after the latest Marvel movie, kids are very easily overstimulated and need extra time to unwind after such vicarious thrills and cliffhangers.

 

Even the type of light emitted by electronic devices keeps us from a good night’s sleep. As the report states, “The spectral composition of light produced by many electronic devices is enriched for short wavelengths (∼450 nm) in the blue light range.9 Short-wavelength light is generally more effective than longer-wavelength light for suppressing melatonin levels, phase shifting the circadian clock, acutely increasing alertness, and altering subsequent sleep.” In other words, light from electronic devices  hinders our brain’s production of melatonin, the chemical which causes us to feel sleepy. The report goes on to explain that children’s eyes aren’t fully developed, so they are more susceptible to the effects of iPad light. Add that to the normal tendency of overtired children to fight sleep, and you have the perfect recipe for a poor night’s sleep.

 

You can read the full report in Pediatrics by clicking here.

 

Is your family in need of a good night’s sleep? Clean Router uses customizable features to encourage your family to power down the electronics and enjoy a relaxing evening and peaceful night.

 

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