We have two laptops in our house because our children are homeschooled and have live lessons, often at the same time. Two laptops made it easier for them to study and get their work done. Because they are home-schooled, part of me thought that environment would shelter my children from all the “adult/mature” conversations.
I was wrong!
My husband recently caught our oldest son, almost 13, on his laptop at 1 am. We do not allow laptops in their bedrooms other than during their live school lessons. Somehow our son snuck his computer into his room and started searching for things.
My husband checked the websites our son was viewing and when he had been online. We were both in shock! Some of those instances were during school time, while I was on the other side of the kitchen counter.
How could I allow that to happen? How could I not notice?
I understand every child goes through times of curiosity, particularly during puberty and when their body changes. However, I do not understand going to Google to find out what these things are. We, of course, had the “birds and bees” talk with him and explained why it was important for him to come to us with his questions rather than researching things online. While it was difficult to have that conversation, I wish I had known it needed to be talked about sooner.
Our son now knows what is allowed and what is not allowed. I, as a parent, have to do whatever I can to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Even though we secure the kids’ laptops after they complete their schoolwork, how do I monitor and keep track during school time? I have researched multiple ways and also contacted a “computer whiz” friend.
Here’s what we are doing in our family:
- I paid for a year’s subscription to NetNanny.com. It watches everything the boys google or search for. It blocks the websites I am not okay with, and I don’t even have to list those websites. If it is or has inappropriate things on the site, it will automatically block it. If one of our boys searches for something inappropriate, it will block it, but it will also notify me, letting me know exactly what was searched for.
- Our children have tablets for doctor’s appointments and long drives. They get tablet or game time as a reward for doing their chores, getting good grades, and helping around the house. I deleted Safari from all of their tablets, and each one requires a passcode before downloading any apps. If our son learns the passcode, it will send me a notification asking for my approval.
- Their gaming devices have an approved friends list. They can choose those friends to play with, but nobody else. They also can not browse the internet on it.
- I joined a Facebook page with other parents called “Parenting in a Tech World” with a lot of really helpful information about how to keep your children safe online. I also found people who are going through the same thing or had gone through it and were willing to help me. It was very comforting to know I wasn’t alone.
- I set parental controls for Roku and other streaming systems (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.). No internet or YouTube is allowed on them.
I understand I can’t block my children from everything that I find inappropriate, but I can try my best. My son is a good boy, but he made a mistake. And we will all learn from this experience.
I share this because we all must do everything we can to protect our children. Every family is different, and some of the changes we have implemented in our family may not work for you. But that’s okay – we are all doing our best.