Development

Thought I’d solicit some opinions with this post.  Over a year ago I put together the first major event for Youthmark, entitled, 360º Parenting.  This event did very well and I have received many invitations to repeat the event at various churches.  We will eventually do this, however, we knew for it to have long lasting impact it would need to be more than just an event, so Elisabeth and I have been doing research and have started to write a book which will work in conjunction with the event.

Two weeks ago I was part of a panel discussion for a parenting class at a church, Wednesday I will be speaking at another church (it’s “Parent Night” at this youth group).  And just this week I have had a number of discussions with parents and youth pastors about this same issue of parent/teen relationships.

So, here’s where your opinion comes in.

One of the areas which has been a hot topic revolves around the social networking area.  How much control should a parent have in regard to the use of the internet of his/her child?  Should parents allow pre-teens or teens to have their own facebook or myspace?  If they do allow, should a parent have the password?  What should a parent do when their has been abuse of the internet freedom?  Should parents use cyber-sitters and tattletale?  How can teens “prove” to their parents they are not mistreating it, yet still maintain confidentiality and freedom in relationships?  As a parent, do you check the internet history, cache and trash bins on your computers?  As a parent, how aware of internet issues are you?

That is just a sampling of the questions we are asking and being asked, would love the public opinion… pick one, pick all, I’d love your thoughts on any of them!

Grace,
Brian

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5 thoughts on “Development

  1. so glad my kids aren’t to this age yet. that gives me time to really work this out.

    And as a youth pastor…i would love to know what parents are doing as well. These are some great questions. Thanks for posting

  2. I’m not a parent so I can’t give that perspective, but I have seen some parents do some neat things that seem to balance giving students independence but also being able to monitor. I know of some parents who get a facebook/myspace and have their son/daughter have them as a friend, so they have that presence. I’ve seen that cut down on inappropriate postings but also allows the parent to be in the teen world.

    I’ve found that if parents engage with their teens on these issues and take the time to be in their world it has a huge impact.

  3. Disclaimer: I’m not a parent. The following are the views of a 20-something who thinks he knows more than he does.

    Parents should be parents. That means, in part, supervising and guiding their child. Obviously a lot of the specifics will depend on the specific circumstance – if your son is very responsible and has shown integrity, you’d be much more lenient with him as far as restrictions go on internet usage. If your daughter has shown good decision making skills in her choices of friends and the way she presents herself, you’d more likely allow her all the freedoms of Myspace and Facebook. If either acted inappropriately, steps backward from that freedom would be taken, measured appropriately to the nature of the offense.

    In my experience, hair-trigger web content filters do very little to actually protect the user of the computer, and are very easily bypassed or disabled, while simultaneously reminding the user that they are not trusted. I remember when my parents installed “CyberSentinel” on our home computer back in my first year of HS – it constantly had false positives which locked up the computer, missed some stuff it should have blocked, and (if I wanted to view some unapproved content) was easily bypassed. If it comes down to an issue where the child really does need to be constantly monitored, it should be clear to him why, and then should be done effectively: not with programs on the computer, but with a network-level proxy or DNS filter easily setup through your router or using an inexpensive service like OpenDNS.

    This is of course more difficult if the parent remains ignorant of the technology available and the ways in which it is used, so I would strongly encourage any parent to take some time to learn as much as possible about the use of your computer and network in this context, as well as taking time to find out what your kid likes to do online, and then looking into that. If your kid likes Myspace, then you should do some looking into the tech behind it – and don’t believe the latest scare headlines saying anyone on Myspace is either a pederast stalker or someone who will fall victim to one.

    The internet is a powerful tool both for work and play, and the socialization potential is amazing. Being overprotective and afraid of it will only hurt your cause, especially with a kid who uses it often and knows a lot about it. Learn what you can, and talk to your kid about the rest. Don’t make it a point of contention, make it a point of communication.

    Just my two cents, this has been a regular subject over the dinner table at family get-togethers so I’ve got plenty to say I guess 😉

  4. Hey. Just curious how many parents would willingly submit to this same kind of ‘internet-use oversight.’ In my opinion, lusting after images (of people or things) and wasting time are ageless human problems. Perhaps the best place for parents to begin tackling this issue is by themselves at the keyboard.

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