Making the Internet Less Scary Through the Eyes of Faith

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Of all the dangers to your child’s safety in this modern ether-world, perhaps the one you should be most frightened by is the concupiscence in his or her own heart. The inclination towards the fulfillment of sensual desires resides in all of us, and can be most difficult in our younger years when we have not yet developed proper control of our appetites.

Temptations abound in the adolescent world. Youth constantly try to see how far they can push boundaries, and the ability to fight the urges that arise in all of us has not yet been well developed.

Fear_computer by maido155

The world our children live in is not the same as the one we grew up in, and definitely isn’t the world their grandparents knew at the same age. A Pew report shows that most (8 in 10) young adults believe “that ‘getting rich’ is the main goal of most people in their age group, and large majorities believe that casual sex, binge drinking, illegal drug use and violence are more prevalent among young people today than was the case 20 years ago.”

Twenty percent of this same group say they have no religious affiliation or are atheist or agnostic; that’s almost twice what it was for the 1980’s young adult generation, and a heartbreaking few, 4%, view spirituality as their generation’s most important goal in life.

The world today is a scary place full of peer pressure, cyber-bullying, internet predators, and easy access to every evil that can tempt our children.  Gruesome, unhealthy video games, pornography, and sexting are all at their fingertips.

Perhaps you think your children are safe. You’ve raised them well; enrolled them in Catholic school. You keep an eye on on them.

Yet among the greatest dangers to your child is parental laziness or ignorance, both of which enable children to participate in these dangerous activities. So if you’re telling yourself you’ve got a good kid and there’s no reason not to trust him or her, please remember the numbers are flat out not in your favor.

God created them, they’re all good kids, but even good kids get tempted and need help making good choices.

One study reports 93% of teens (12-17) are online, 20% of teens (ages 13-19) and 33% of young adults (ages 20-26) have shared nude or semi-nude pictures of themselves either via text or by posting online. A frightening 40% of all teens have sent sexually suggestive text messages.

If all that isn’t bad enough, another poll has 6% reporting they started sexting at the tender age of nine. One in three teens (12-17) have experienced online harassment. One in 25 children have received an online sexual solicitation where the solicitor tried to make offline contact.

The modern world can be a very scary place for parents. In a joint initiative the U.S.C.C.B  and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America have launched a new website, faithandsafety.org, to help parents teach their children the skills and habits of safe internet use.

faith and safety dot org

As Christians we believe all of creation is good and can serve toward the sanctification of our families when approached in proper attitude and used in the intended order. The internet, as  scary as it seems at times, can be a beautiful place, full of the best humanity has to offer.

Our job as parents is to teach our children to approach everything, including the internet, through Christ. This website is meant to help us do just that.

New media like social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram can be amazing tools for evangelization, but the anonymity they provide can also present a strong temptation to be unkind or to act in ways we would never dream of in real life.

People in general, and children in particular, tend to treat the ether world as if it was an extension of their inner world, their fantasy, their private thoughts. We often feel less inhibited in our interaction online, especially when we feel no one is watching. This is an extension of our concupiscence and, as parents, we must teach our children how to regulate their desires and behaviors in all situations.

This site will give you the resources to do just that with news updates, family discussion starters, information, how to’s, and app reviews–all through the eyes of faith. There are tips on promoting safety in your home, devices to watch out for, and Facebook-specific help.

This is a must-have resource for all parents seeking to raise their child to be in the world, but not of it. Following the advice given at FaithandSafety.org will definitely help make the internet a less scary place.

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Copyright 2013 Jen Haganey

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