Teaching Our Children to Protect Their Minds

Twice this week I’ve been asked by friends what I do to control what websites and content my kids see online. Two different days, two different families, and both of them had recently had a situation where their kids had accidentally came across pornography. One was the case where a legitimate ministry had moved on to something else and let their domain name go, and it was bought up and converted to a porn site. 

Last night the olders (ages 11 and 9) and I were discussing once again the importance of being careful online. We don’t currently use parental controls, but we do restrict where the kids computers are and how often they are used. And we discuss online safety frequently.

My kids are avid researchers (new this year and I’m not going to complain…).  They get out there and look up information they need and are learning how to discern what is good information, what is biased information, and what is just not correct. I’m not going  to restrict what websites they visit for research, but I am going to monitor where they are going and require approval of new sites, just like in real life, and I’m going to teach them to be careful of where they go and what information they give out.

As with anything online or in real life, they also need to know that not everyone intends them well; that there are people who are not nice or wish to poison their minds with junk that they really don’t need. The porn stuff has been around for centuries, it just has now yet another media. I need to teach the kids to protect themselves from it and what to do if they come across it – not just online but also in traditional formats.

Yesterday, my 9-year-old was talking to me about cheating, about how he sometimes was tempted to cheat, but he was working hard not to because he knows that is the wrong thing to do (and he’ll get in trouble for it.)  So last night, as we were all discussing what porn was, and what to do if they ran across it (get out of it as soon as possible and immediately tell mom or dad so we could remove it from their computer), I made a comment about how both online and in real-life we need to protect our minds against stuff that we really don’t need to see. I used the analogy of being tempted to cheat, and how as he gets older, he may be tempted to want to look at that junk, but we need to guard our minds against it. Not just the kids, but mom and dad too.

Then the perfect example comes up – my 9-year-old says “Like Eragon. When he he protects his mind from Gallaborix.”

Exactly.  If you’ve read any of the books from Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Series (Eragon, Eldest, or Brisingr) with your kids, this is a great analogy to use.  There are things in life we just need to protect our minds from. Things we watch on TV, books we read, radio shows, music, news, even conversations. 

Part of learning and growing as a person is not only perpetualling learning new material, but also being able to discern what we really don’t need added to our brains, what we don’t need to dwell on and think too much about. We need to teach our kids this skill as much as we need to practice it ourselves, as parents and as humans.

Food for thought…and discussion…

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