Parents who allow their young children on connected technology, let this be your wake up call:
Your kids are not safe on technology, no matter how many filters you put in place.
If you don’t mind letting your teen, pre-teen, and younger children roam the bowels of the internet unattended and would prefer to keep your head firmly planted in the sand, then by all means continue scrolling and read something a little more fluffy, like another fawning article on Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s romantic performance at the Oscars the other night.
Just like some people still believe Cooper can actually sing, some parents still believe it’s perfectly normal, acceptable, and healthy to give their precious young children keys to a vast digital abyss filled with every vile, disgusting, x-rated, violent, twisted thought known to man.
Children are literally dying – falling victim to sex traffickers, suicide games, cyber-bullying, and more. Why do we even risk it? What is the upside? Convenience? Coolness? Entertainment? The precious souls of our littles are not worth whatever convenience, coolness, entertainment they (or you) receive by letting them have the latest iPhone or other cool gadgets they can show off to their friends.
As pioneer parents in the tech generation, we need to constantly be re-evaluating how we are handling technology with our children. We’re the first parents who’ve ever had to deal with this stuff, so we should never settle for just looking around and seeing who else is doing it. That’s not a good enough justification for any action, let alone one with no precedent. We are only scratching the surface on data and given the rise in things like MOMO, an insane suicide game that has actually led to the death of multiple children, it’s clear we are dealing with evil beyond our wildest comprehension.
No one knows who started MOMO but it’s clearly inspired by Satan himself. The disturbing game first garnered international attention in September 2018, when two Colombian children committed suicide after participating in the “Momo” challenge.
Within 48 hours of each other, a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy took their own lives after playing the game, which they discovered through the Facebook-owned WhatsApp communication tool.
The sick and twisted ‘game’ features a series of challenges that end by daring the children to take their own lives.
The hideous “Momo” figure was first designed by the Japanese-based art company Link Factory. The brand has denied any involvement in the creation or distribution of the vile game.
Cyber-bullying is also another rapidly growing problem. Most parents who deal with issues like this aren’t even aware it’s happening – because they’re not using Snapchat or WhatsApp or any of the other platforms youngsters flock to. They long abandoned Facebook once parents began invading it years ago.
The only way to innoculate your children from the dangers lurking online is to not give them free access to it, or at a minimum greatly restrict it.
Of course the older they get, the more freedoms we should entrust with our children. I have four and they are 13, 9, 8, and 3. My oldest is 13 and God bless her, she hasn’t expressed much of a desire to have a smartphone. We did get her a ‘dumb’ phone, which she is not allowed to carry with her unless she’s going to a sporting practice or something of that nature. Even that has given us trepidation.
I’ve seen firsthand the thoughts a teen can struggle with, and the last thing I’d want to do is give someone trying to navigate the difficult teen years a powerfully addictive toxin they can access at their leisure.
Having a smartphone myself, I know the addictive power it wields. There are many days where I am sickened by how much I actually look at the phone – that screen time report at the end of the week sometimes makes my eyes pop out of their sockets. Why on earth would I want to take that same powerful addiction and place it in the palm of my young daughter’s hand?
Despite all of the filters and programs out there that promise to keep our kids safe, they are never really safe. They will always be able to find a way around the filter. The younger generations will always be a step ahead of us when it comes to technology. It’s time for parents, all (including yours truly) to strongly reconsider how much screentime we allow our kids to have, even their older teen children.
Don’t be afraid to be different from the world. Don’t be afraid to go against the grain. It certainly will not be easy, but the upside is certainly minimal compared to the risk. At the very least, we should be vigilant and constantly re-evaluating how to approach this issue. We are pioneer parents in the digital age. This is uncharted territory – and yet many of us thoughtlessly just accept the fact that kids ought to have smartphones and tablets.
I pray for everyone attempting to navigate these waters – it’s certainly not an easy task but it’s one where we need to be ready to make tough decisions and be willing to forgo some creature comforts in order to protect the souls of our littles.