Internet Savvy

Internet Savvy is a tough thing to evaluate. We have 4 beautiful children at our home ranging from 13 to 5 and I make my living in the technology field. I know what can happen to uncontrolled, unmonitored systems of interaction when they are exposed to the "general public". We have adopted a "full life" approach to securing our children while allowing them to benefit from the rich blessings of technology and internet communications/information.  We don't allow "private" internet access. All computers are in the kitchen in full view of everyone else. We have basic common sense controls, like a multiple router setup, but in general my kids have access to the full internet. We don't use filters, or highly automated monitoring tools. Instead, we teach our kids about making good choices and we stay connected to them so we know them. We trust them, and they trust us, but we verify with regular communications and check-ins around internet behaviors.
I treat the internet as a tool. It is a very powerful tool like a drill or a saw, but a tool nonetheless.  They have to learn to use it, and as they get more proficient, they can do more and more with it. 

The big question of the last few months swirled around facebook access for my 11 and 13 year olds who both have email accounts.  BTW, I have set a threshold of ~11/6th grade to allow an email account. Younger kids don't have personal email.  I explained to my daughters that they needed to be savvy before I would allow them to have facebook accounts. When asked what the definition of savvy was.. I replied "when you are savvy, both you and I will know it".. Not very scientific, I know but it worked well.  Both my girls set off on a quest to learn and eventually convinced me that they could handle themselves and they are now "live on Facebook".  My only real requirement here was and is that I must be friended, and be aware of their friends. Not so different from anything else in their life.. in my opinion.

How we decide to let our kids do anything is a test of their savvy. My children are firstborn of God and precious blessings. My wife and I are here to take care of them and guide them as they grow and develop, not just control them. My goal is to empower them to think and act on their own as soon as it is possible for them to do so safely.  As soon as they are savvy, they should be thinking, building, and communicating on their own using every tool that they can reasonably manage. I think that the best tool for internet safety is knowing your kids, staying connected to their lives intentionally through conversations, snow days, meals together, and yes... Once in a while I look over their shoulder when they are on the internet just to be sure.  As savvy as they are, they are still just kids. I wouldn't let them use a drill or saw on their own yet either..


Anonymous said…
Your comments just confirm this grandma's confidence and great comfort knowing her four grandchilden are being protected by an umbrella of really, really good parents and our Lord. We are all so truly blessed beyond what we actually deserve! "LUVA"

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