By Matt Dawson
HUNTERSVILLE – “Do you know what your children know?”
This was the question asked by Scott Frank, of Safely Intact, at the beginning of the Internet Safety Seminar for Parents on May 18 at Journey Church.
Frank is a computer forensics examiner.
On a scale of one to 10, most parents at the seminar felt that they were around a six or seven on understanding how their kids are engaging with the Internet. By the end of the night, we all realized we were probably a two or three at best. It was an eye-opening experience.
“I was blown away,” said one mother. “I’m so thankful to have this information, but it also scares me.”
Frank talked about "location settings" on mobile devices, which allow predators to track kids’ behavior in real time. We often allow access to this and other personal information when we download apps.
Frank said there are good filters and software programs available, but open conversation is the number one way to help our kids with online engagement.
“I’m so glad to be a part of a church that cares about equipping us as parents” said another mom.
I believe that many churches and parents are so overwhelmed by how fast things are changing in our hyper-connected world that we choose to bury our heads, trusting that our kids will be OK.
Or we fight against technology, trying to keep our kids from engaging in it, touting our traditional values of “real connection.”
Both of these reactions are dangerous for our children. The technology world is their world, and to simply ignore it will put our kids in real danger of predators and online mistakes. If we ignore this part of their world, we will not prepare them to live wisely as adults, who will be connected online.
Are we sticking our heads in the sand, or are we equipping our children to live successfully in the world God has ordained them to live in?
Jesus has called us to be a light to the world, even in a hyper-connected, social media driven, online world.
Matt Dawson is lead pastor of Journey Church in Huntersville. For more information on Internet safety, go to www.safelyintact.com.