Wednesday, July 19, 2017

"Smart Toys" Require Smarter Parents

Picture illustration (REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski).
As many of you know, my wife and I have four boys.  They are more connected to the internet and their friends than I could possibly have imagined.  Today, the FBI just released a warning for parents who have children with smart toys or smart devices, "Taking a cautious approach to the upcoming deluge of smart toys hitting store shelves for the holiday shopping season, the FBI has issued a public service announcement warning parents about the risks of bringing an Internet-connected toy into the household. Specifically, the FBI is concerned about the amount of personal information that could be "unwittingly disclosed" during normal use of the toy."  The full article can be found here: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/07/19/fbi-warns-parents-about-risks-using-internet-connected-toys.html

Smart toys require smarter parents.  It's vitally important for parents to continually monitor the online behaviors of their children.  Here are some ground rules to set with your kids: 

1) Smart phones, smart toys or devices are a privilege.  Parents reserve the right to take them away and inspect their online history and message history at a moments notice.

2) Use some sort of monitoring technology to help keep your kids safe.  I'm not going to have the time or space to launch into all the different types of technology available, however, here is a great website that reviews a number of them: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2346997,00.asp

3) The devices are kept in the parents room over night while they are plugged into the outlet and charging.  This helps our kids avoid temptation that may occur while parents are sleeping.

Smart phones and internet connected devices offer connection to friends and escape and entertainment.  These things are good...in moderation and when they are monitored.  Let's make sure that as they enjoy the internet that they stay safe from as much temptation as possible.

Here's why we want to do our best to help our kids in this area of their lives.  "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.(Proverbs 22:6).  The dangers of the internet are well documented.  We want to train our kids to be wise in the use of the tools they use in technology.  It's also proven that gaming and other internet activities can cause our kids to have addictive behaviors that last long into adulthood.  Let's train them in the best way of using technology and their time.

Let's also make sure that we help our kids to realize that if gaming or smart phones or internet gets in the way of their relationship with Jesus, then we need to cut those things back so we can get more time with Jesus.  After all, the internet isn't going to get us to heaven, only Jesus does that!  Let's lead by example in showing them what a blessing staying connected to Jesus really is.  Remember, more is caught than taught.

I'm interested in hearing your thoughts about how to best monitor and care for your kids while they are online.  Please share.

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