Monthly Archives: June 2014

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 10



When we talk about the parenting subject of privacy vs. protection today’s topic is: cell phones.  The push to have cell phones has become younger and younger.  Many households no longer even have a land line which makes families have to address this issue.

The first thing that a parent needs to remember is that a cell phone is not a right, as your children would have you believe, it is a privilege.  Before parents extend this privilege to to a child, there are many things that need to be thought through ahead of time.  What will be your family cell phone parameters?  At what age is reasonable for a child to have a cell phone… not according to their friends and social circles … according to your family’s needs and standards.  Will they pay all or part of their bill?  What will be the parameters for talking/texting on it?  All of these are easier if established beforehand.

As you are setting up family cell phone rules the obvious first step is leading by example. If the rule is “no answering the phone during dinner,” but the parent … their leader …takes a call, it’s an obvious huge inconsistency.  It can even be helpful to have a family charging dock where everyone leaves their cell phones over night.  This can help with the battle of calls and texts late into the night.

Phone rules also need to be established about where and when having your phone is appropriate.  There have been many issues with cell phones in the schools.  Even cheating has gone tech as kids are texting test answers to each other. There is no reason for a child to have their cell phone on during school hours.  It creates a distraction to the classroom environment as well as being against the rules.

As difficult as this sounds, parents can lead by example in the car.  Teenage drivers are not experienced enough to be able to use a cell while driving.  Most states have a hands free law in place.  Set an example when it comes to cell phone appropriateness.

One more area to discuss which is extremely popular is texting. It is so easy because you can get straight to the point of communication. This may be why it appeals to the younger generations.  They have even gone so far as to shorten words to enable quicker communication. Because it is so popular, this form of communication is definitely something that parents should be aware of and place parameters around.  Until a child is trustworthy with the cell phone there may need to be limited, if any, texting.

Another issue that has popped up in this current trend is called “sexting.”  This can be either sexually explicit conversation or explicit pictures.  With the introduction of camera phones this has become a major problem.  The government is beginning to crack down on explicit pictures sent via text.  Most teens send them as a joke or because they have not thought through the ramifications of their actions.  However, because they are underage, the government is treating this issue as child pornography.  Please have a discussion with your child about this issue before allowing them to send or receive texts.

Listen to today’s podcast for more insight on this topic.

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 10 2014-06-23T13:25:06+00:00

Privacy vs.Protection | Part 9



Another issue to address when discussing the reputation is the fact that some teens will attempt to defame each other using social networking sites. This is called cyber bullying. There is something that is different about cyber bullying from the usual form.  There is certain anonymity to it.  If you are on a social networking cite you can even set up an account with a fake name.  This would allow the bully to be totally anonymous.  What this means is that anyone and everyone could potentially be a bully. And statistics would show that it is a very common practice.  Even the victims of traditional bullying can take part in this form.

Because this is such a common occurrence and such a part of teenage culture, we must make sure that we talk with our kids about it.  When we set up the house parameters about internet we need to include the rules about cyber bullying.  Discuss with your spouse what the consequences will be if your children are caught being mean too or defaming someone else on the internet.

Many parents may ask, what’s really the big deal with this issue? First and foremost there are countless scriptures about guarding your tongue and not allowing unwholesome or slanderous talk come out of your mouth, in this case fingers.  But we also need to teach our children that not only is spreading lies wrong but spreading gossip about someone else is wrong as well.  The second thing to keep in mind is that there have been children that have been so affected by cyber bullying that they have gone so far as to take their own life.  Because of the seriousness of this we need to protect our children not only from being bullied but from being a part of bullying someone else.

Listen to today’s podcast for more insight on this topic.

Privacy vs.Protection | Part 9 2014-06-23T13:23:44+00:00

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 8


Social Networking and Your Teen’s Reputation

It is a parent’s job to help the teen protect his or her reputation.  The impulsive nature of teens seems to block them from thinking about the long term effects of some of their social networking choices.   The myspace/facebook profiles are perfect examples.  Look at your teen’s profile and make sure there is nothing objectionable.  Establish a list of rules to protect your teen’s reputation.

Most teens do not think that colleges and potential employers look at their MySpace/Facebook pages to try to get to know them.  Comments, as well as, pictures/videos that are posted can damage their future.  Even comments that friends make on their pages reflect who they are.  With uploading pictures and videos happening often, they need to be run by the parent before they are posted. This helps add one more layer of accountability for internet usage.

Listen to today’s podcast for more insight on this topic.

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 8 2014-06-23T13:25:58+00:00

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 7


Your Child’s Privacy And Social Networking

What’s a parent to do about the social networking scene. Kids today seem to do a lot of their “hanging out” online.  Which is why there has been an explosion of social networking sites. Parents must set parameters.

Many parents are not aware of the fact that sites have a 13/14 year age minimum.  Sites are doing what they can to safeguard younger children. They also have an automatic privacy setting for people under 16.  The problem is children are getting on and lying about their age.  Parents that allow their under 13 year old to have a Facebook or MySpace account are encouraging dishonesty.  This can be a very dangerous and slippery slope.

If your child is over the age limit that does not mean they must have an account.  These accounts need to be handled responsibly and can only be trusted to teens who can handle the responsibility.

Parents need to know passwords and privacy controls need to be set so only friends can see their page.  Teens need to understand they are not permitted to share personal information such as phone numbers, address, email addresses or any other information that a stranger could use to contact a child for a one on one. Only people they know should be the people who are allowed to be their “friends” on their pages.  It also can be dangerous when kids treat it like a contest to see who has the most “friends” and will allow anyone to be their friend on these sites.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of safe guards, but it is a starting point.   First and foremost keep an open dialog with your teen about their page or even get a Facebook or MySpace page yourself so you can keep track of what’s really going on.

Tomorrow we will discuss social networking and reputations.

Listen to today’s podcast for more insight on this topic.

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 7 2014-06-23T13:26:47+00:00

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 6


Protection Always Comes Before Your Child’s Privacy

In the discussion of privacy vs protection on the internet may be the most debated and overwhelming issue to parents.  We are going to open this week by going over some basic computer safety. The reason to place such high priority on internet safety is made obvious by some of the following statistics.  Of teens surveyed, 43% who had a profile on a social network site said they had been contacted by strangers,  21% said they had responded. Research from 2005 stated that 1 in 3 teens, 10 to 17 year olds, had been exposed to unwanted pornography.  Add to that the millions of children who have been victims of cyber bullying.

These stats are scary. It is our responsibility to place appropriate parameters around the internet and usage of the computer. The simplest safety policy is to keep the computer in a public place.  That way it can never be behind closed doors, literally.  Because this is a safety issue it is not wise for children to have internet in their bedrooms. The second safety policy is a password.  Children need to come to mom in order to get on.  This prevents any late night usage without parental consent. A third safety precaution is a safety filter.  Beyond the safety filter parents need to consider having monitoring software.  This software allows the parents to see not only where their children have gone, but some can actually monitor chat and emails.

Some parents may feel these precautions violate their children’s privacy.  Consider the fact that 1 in 5 children ages 10 -17 have been solicited for sex online! This has gone way beyond a privacy issue … it is a protection issue … and protection comes first. These statistics should not immobilize but spur us into action to protect the safety, wellbeing and innocence of our children.

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 6 2014-06-22T12:21:24+00:00

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 5


Protection Is Far More Important Than Privacy

Next week we are going to look at Privacy vs protection in the technology, telephone, texting world.  Today as we finish this week, however, I want to continue to hone down on the word Parental Responsibility.  Our children and teens are naturally wired to battle us for more freedom and it is our job to let them practice continually expanding freedoms.

Begin the process with “The Bulls Eye Approach”. This means that you start small and work your way out.  Allow your child to practice by giving them small bits of trust.   You begin by allowing your children a little bit of freedom.  When they prove themselves trustworthy, for staying on track with their independence, you can allow them a little more freedom.  For example, as your children get older you can allow them to ride their bikes in the neighborhood.  (Obviously you don’t make any of these decisions hastily because your children’s safety needs to be your primary concern)  Next you may allow them to ride their bike to the park in your neighborhood.  You establish boundaries, such as a time to be home.  “Hit the Bull’s Eye (ride your bike only where we said you should ride your bike and be home when we said you need to be home) and we’ll try this again.  Miss the Bull’s Eye and we will know you aren’t ready to do this by yourself.

It is the parent’s responsibility to hold the child accountable.  Take the car and make sure that they are at the park.  If they are trustworthy and come home within the time frame they hit the Bully’s Eye and freedom is their reward.  If they did not follow instructions then they need to have a consequence and until they can prove themselves trustworthy, no biking to the neighborhood park.

This training is all preparation for the years to come … for the things that require big trust. Through this experience you have shown them two things.  You love them enough to be holding them accountable and you will be checking up on them.  Being consistent in these two areas of your parenting will also communicate that you are trustworthy as well.

As we close this week remember two things. First, protection is far more important than privacy. And second our culture today doesn’t advocate for the futures of children and teens.  This is the parent’s job!

Listen to today’s podcast for more insight on this topic.

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 5 2014-06-22T12:17:11+00:00

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 4


Creating Accountability

Privacy vs. protection, how far do parents go when it comes to their child/teens choice of friends? Because parents often don’t know what to do, they allow their child to hang out with people that they know they shouldn’t.  Or worse, the parents are so removed from their child’s world they don’t even know their friends.  Being an active parent is hard work and time consuming.  This is one of those places it seems easier to not get involved.

But this is an extremely important issue. As your child grows the friends they have around them will have a role in who they become and the values that they develop.  The good news is that most teens stated, when asked, that their parents are still the number one influence in their lives.   This means you can still influence who they pick as friends … the number two influence.

As children grow they want to be more and more independent and they should be.  This creates another training opportunity for parents. You can allow your child little bits of freedom with their friends to build trust. This means however, that it is our job to check up on them.  This creates accountability.

In my (Torrey) teen years birthday parties started to become the boy/girl dance parties that most parents dread.  My parents had a plan to use these parties for training purposes. Instead of not allowing me to go, My Dad would call to make sure they knew what would be going on and to make sure there would be an adult present.  They would then halfway through the party make an appearance to make sure everything was following our family rules.  I knew that the party had gone over the line and I hadn’t called home, I would be taken home and not allowed at the next part.  They allowed me the freedom to make the choice to call but also checked in on me to make sure I was doing what I was supposed to.  While at the time it was embarrassing, I knew that they cared enough about me to get involved at this level.

When we begin to allow freedoms to our child, we have to follow up.  When parents allow these freedoms they are training decision making.  “Should I stay at the party even though I know I shouldn’t or should I make the decision to call home?” When parents follow up they have no way to keep our children accountable…which means we are failing to train our children as well as failing to protect them.

Listen to today’s podcast for more insight on this topic.

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 4 2014-06-22T12:22:22+00:00

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 3


The Child’s Bedroom

One of the places that parents seem to be afraid to step over some invisible boundary line, is their child’s bedroom.  Some how many parents have been duped into thinking that small amount of space is forbidden to them.  It begins slowly when children are younger with the silly “no parents allowed” and “caution, do not enter” signs.  These signs can be dangerous because they can create the attitude that the child somehow owns that space.

Parents, not their child, pay the mortgage or rent bill every month.  So the child does not own that space.  It belongs to the parent.

As parents, with the job of protecting and training our children, we must be in their bedrooms checking chores and making sure that everything in them is following the family rules.   It becomes dangerous when a child believes that a parent will not come into their room.  It can become a place to keep things or act out in ways that are hazardous to the child.  Sadly, some parents are none the wiser.

We have just begun to scratch the surface of the parental challenge of rights vs. parental responsibility to protect the child.  In the weeks to come we’ll continue with this topic, but what about hope in the middle of this discussion?  If you have older children this is something you are already in the middle of.  There maybe someone out there that says yes, I agree with everything that has been said but what do I do now?

Sit down and evaluate what changes need to be made.  For the sake of example we will use the bedroom.  A parent has not felt it was their right to go into their child’s bedroom.  They are realizing this is a mistake.  The plan that has been decided on is that mom will check the bedroom daily to make sure the chores are done correctly as well as keeping her eyes open for anything that doesn’t meet family standards.

Start with a family meeting. Talk with your children about the fact that for their protection and safety things are being changed.  Privacy is a privilege that is earned only when trust is built.  It’s not even so much that you don’t trust them.  It’s that you don’t trust others out there that you don’t know.  You don’t really care what other people are doing or say is okay.  You love them too much not to get more involved. “But mom,” the child might protest, “Why are you starting this now?”  “Because I now realize that I have made a mistake and  for your protection I’m taking steps to correct my mistake.”

The bedroom is a great place to start.  Next, however, it’s time to move on to the boundaries surrounding those potential secret invaders into your child’s life …friends, technology and the internet.

Listen to today’s podcast for more insight on privacy vs. protection.

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 3 2014-06-17T11:15:27+00:00

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 2


The Child’s Right To Be Given Boundaries

What is a child’s most important right?  In today’s society, there’s a dumbfounding battle between the child’s right to privacy vs. the child’s right to protection.  One of the things that our children are being taught by their own sub-culture is the attitude that “I have rights that you as a parent cannot touch.”

Many parents are paralyzed over what to do with this type of attitude.  They feel helpless knowing the need to protect their child but feeling they are not “allowed” in some instances. When it comes to bedrooms, cell phones, computers etc. begin with two thoughts.  Whose are they really and who is in charge of protecting the child.  Never have my children reminded me that it was time for them to go to the dentist or time to get a shot.  But I knew they needed it for their own protection.  I went against their “want” in order to meet their “need”.  Begin the process of thinking through boundaries as a protection issue rather than a rights issue.

One way to fight this attitude of personal rights is to begin developing an attitude of gratitude.  Thankfulness is something that is taught, it does not come naturally.  When a child is taught to be consistently thankful for what they are given and how hard their parents work to give it to them, it helps to soften the entitled attitude as they grow up.

First it is an area to be role modeled.  Do the children see thankfulness in you? Thank your children when they are helpful, when they do something out of their way just to be nice.  By consistently saying a simple thank you to your children you are teaching thankfulness. Another way to teach thankfulness is around the dinner table you can play a thankful game.  Every family member needs to think of at least one thing that they are thankful for from that day.  This helps to keep thankfulness on the forefront of everyone’s mind, as well as creating conversation.

Sometimes just very simple solutions can help prevent bigger problems later. Choosing to be thankful for everything we have, combats the attitude of “that’s mine” or “you can’t come in here.”

Listen to today’s podcast for more on privacy vs. protection.

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 2 2014-06-17T11:14:42+00:00

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 1


Why Are Parents So Afraid Today?

In some areas we over protect our children, then in other areas we tend to under protect them. Especially, when it comes to “their” space and “their” technology. Ask yourself whose room is their bedroom? When a parent says “your bedroom” to the child that’s a statement of location and where you sleep.  It’s not a statement of who owns it.  The same applies for a child’s cellphone and internet/computer usage.

First of all, they don’t have any space … room.  Technically, it’s our room because we are the ones who pay the bill for it every month. And most often, it’s our phone they are using. We need to take ownership of their space and technology because we need to be responsible to protect our children. It’s important for parents to decide that this is not an issue of giving our children privacy, it’s an issue of protecting our children.

Think about it this way, no one in their right mind would allow a stranger off the street to baby-sit for their child.  No one would allow a stranger to knock on the door and say, “I’m here to spend some time with your child … alone.”  Yet many parents are unknowingly doing just that.  When it comes to technology … and it is coming at us faster and faster … your child needs some basic parental leadership. Two basic questions need to be answered for your child: what forms of technology (Facebook, Twitter, texting etc.) are they allowed to use … at what age and what are the boundaries. There are no real boundaries unless a parent chooses to establish the boundaries. If there are no boundaries established then virtually anyone has access to your child without your approval, without your awareness and without even identifying their true identity or intentions.

Technology isn’t bad anymore than water in a pool is bad. But a pool with no rules is incredibly dangerous.  There must be a balance in allowing your child freedom, but it absolutely cannot come at the cost of their protection.  One of parenting’s ultimate ends is to protect children.

Listen to today’s podcast for more insight on privacy vs. protection.

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 1 2014-06-17T11:14:01+00:00