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.
My 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?)
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- Set clear expectations – Don’t keep them guessing. Make it clear to them what your expectations are for them and why you have them.
- 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!