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Can I protect my kids? Should I even try?

If I saw my daughter run out into the street, I would stop her. No. I would throw my body in front of her path to make sure she didn't get hurt. If I saw my son reach for a rotten apple or a bad piece of chicken, I would stop him. I don't want him to suffer the negative consequences of consuming something hurtful. It is a no-brainer--we want to protect our kids. But how on earth do we do that when the scary people and the bad influences are not out there lurking in the bushes, rather they are right here, situated deep inside the devices our kids keep with them every minute of the day?

It isn't an easy task. On one hand, we could go around and unplug every device, hiding every cell phone, laptop, iWatch, remote control, and television screen. While that might ensure more face to face family time (and probably a bunch of really ticked off kids), I'm not sure it ensures that we are equipping our kids with the ability to make wise choices. Let's face it, some day, our kids will most likely move out of the house and get their own Netflix passwords. At that point, we get to pray that God is big enough to protect them from the Internet and hope we have prepared them to think through what they should be watching and how their technology choices impact them.

So how do we walk that fine line of protecting and equipping? One way is to be very up front. Talk through your concerns. Talk through some of the things your kids should be wary of. Talk through some of the choices they will be confronted with. Talk through some of their options. In other words, empower your kids. Sure, you can block them, spy on them, and catch them in the act. There are some great software tools for that. But, I'll be honest, without the conversation that goes along with it, your kids are more than able to outwit and outsmart any hi-tech solution you may come up with.

From my perspective, protecting our children in a high-tech world is all about training and modeling. Sure, some kids clearly need a very heavy hand when it comes to online connection. But most kids are suprisingly open to having mom or dad sit with them and learn, play, and explore their online worlds together. They are even open to having mom and dad explore limits of technology use, talking through virtual dangers that might unexpectedly pop up without warning, and developing technology guidelines that make everyone a little wiser and a little safer. By making choices together, online safety becomes a family affair, where choices are transparent, and everyone is being held accountable (yes, mom and dad too).

What motivated this blog that is a bit out of step with the things I have recently been writing about? Well, I just got an inspiring e-mail from a mom who had read my parenting blog.  She shared how she and her husband had sat down with their kids and, together, looked up resources on safe Internet use. They also talked through appropriate controls for the kids and found this website:

So, thank you for taking the time and energy to train and protect your kids. O.K. I still am not sure my son understands what safe chicken looks like, but at least I know he understands the virtual choices he is making every single day.