Internet NaziA couple things scare me. I’ve mentioned before that these include 1) the big hairy muppets with crazy eyes that appear to be cut directly from Satan’s body hair and, 2) the Teletubbies. But today I’d like to add a third and even more horrifying thing to this list: THE INTERNET. And learning how to keep your kids safe on the Internet could be the most important thing you ever do.

I miss the days before this grizzly beast ever existed. I remember when people actually called one another, or even (gasp) interacted face-to-face. I remember when pen pals were a thing and when cartoons were reserved for afternoons and Saturday mornings. I also remember when the phrase” XXX” was seen only on the nasty, windowless bookstore in the really bad part of town.

Now all these things exist at our fingertips, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And what scares me the most (I shudder even as I write) is that I see countless kids wandering around with fully connected smartphones and tablets.

Did you know…

  • Most kids are first exposed to porn at less than 11 years of age?
  • An unsolicited image is often the beginning of a long battle with porn addiction?
  • 1 in 5 children age 10-17 have been approached for sex online?
  • 57% of kids have accidentally accessed inappropriate material online?
  • 75% of these young people do not tell their parents about these incidents?
  • The porn industry is now the 7th largest industry in the U.S.?

A quick question for parents: “Would you ever let your child sleep by him/herself in one of those seedy x-rated bookstores for a night?” That’s exactly what we do when we hand them their fully-connected cell phones and computers and let them roam without supervision. We send them into the x-rated, online store and pray they won’t look (if we pray at all).

I know it’s not easy to clamp down on the Internet because it’s literally EVERYWHERE, but I’m begging you to make an effort. Don’t just blindly hand them the computer or phone and turn the other way. Take the time. Make the effort. Protect your kids. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that I matured just before the Internet came of age. As a wildly hormone-driven 15 year old, I shudder to think of what I might have seen, or searched out, at that age on the Internet, and how it could have gripped me forever.

The ungodly, image-altering, esteem-robbing, addiction-creating things that are available at their fingertips need to be monitored ever so closely. Take every effort to make this happen. There’s no possible way I can shield my children from everything out there, but I sure can try. And in the meantime, I’ll try to form them in such a way that they’ll be prepared to respond appropriately when the opportunity does finally present itself, as you can be sure it will.

My son is 9, and my girls are 7. We haven’t had much of a battle yet, but it’s coming. When it hits, I WANT to be known as the Internet Nazi. And the sooner my kids realize it, the better off we’ll all be.

Here’s a few helpful resources written by others about becoming an effective Internet Nazi:

Controlling Children’s Internet Access
9 Free Programs To Keep Your Kids Safe
8 Ways To Kid Proof Your Internet Parental Controls
How To Control Your Child’s Usage of the Internet

 QUESTION: What have you found helpful for putting limits on Internet usage in your home?


Vacation and Dads

My youngest brother got married last week on the beach. I got to perform the wedding. It was awesome. I even upped the technological ante and performed the ceremony from my mom’s Kindle Paperwhite. Yes, I am that cool.

That's me and my mom's Kindle between those two highly rude photobombers (i.e, bride and groom), and the two real bombers in the back.

That’s me and my mom’s Kindle between those two highly rude photobombers (i.e, bride and groom), and the two real bombers in the back.

Following the wedding, we went on vacation to our usual place near Disney. Vacation is always a wonderful time of sleeping in a foreign bed, sitting uncomfortably by a pool for hours on end, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on theme park tickets, and eating lots and lots of expensively greasy food.

Marrying off my brother, checking into familiarity, spending millions on theme parks, and making unforgettable memories.

Marrying off my brother, checking into familiarity, spending millions on theme parks, and making unforgettable memories.

While all of the above is true, there’s something about vacation that really is kinda awesome. We were lucky enough to inherit my parent’s timeshare a couple years ago. Well, we didn’t really inherit it, we were just the only ones willing to take on the yearly “maintenance fees”, or so they’re called. I would never actually buy one of those things. But since I inherited it, it was already paid off, leaving me with only the yearly fees. If we get two vacations a year out of it, we more than make up our money. But if it ever boils down to only one a year, we’d be in the hole.

And I guess that’s the advantage of those things. They pretty much force us to take family vacations every year because if we don’t, we’re wasting our money. This has been very healthy for our family. My dad bought this timeshare when I was sixteen. Dad started that vacation in a rat infested hades hole, and the next day, we owned a timeshare. Yay for me. I also bungee jumped for the first time that week. Good times, good times.

So every time we go to the familiar vacation site, I’m filled with memories. When I walk into that condo, I can see my dad, sitting at the end of the dining room table, reading his Bible as he did nearly every morning on our vacations. It’s a place filled with family memories, and for that reason, it’s very special.

And now I’m getting the chance to make similar memories with my kids. Hopefully one day they’ll walk into that place when I’m not there and see me sitting at the table. Although, if things continue the way they have been, they’ll likely remember me staring down a pile of Legos while yelling at the creators of those ridiculous instruction booklets.

But hey, a memory’s a memory, right?

2.5 hrs and 49 pages later, I officially hated Lego.

2.5 hrs and 49 pages later, I officially hate Lego.