Be a Plugged-In Parent

The online world is a huge part of life; parents need to teach values-based media discernment at different ages and stages of a child’s life. We sent a letter to the press on the need for parental involvement when it comes to digital media, and it was published today. Here’s a copy of the letter.


 

We agree and support MDA’s stance that public education and parental supervision remain the key tenets of addressing harmful media influence (“ISPs may have to offer free Net filtering tools to broadband, mobile subscribers”, Apr 21).

We welcome parental control services at the ISP level as an additional layer of protection for multiple devices, and especially for young children who accidentally stumble onto harmful sites. However, content is just one risk factor. There are other potential risks that parental control services may not address, namely:

  • Contact: safeguarding against someone online who may bully or abuse
  • Conduct: monitoring the online behavior of one’s child
  • Commercialism: avoiding the onslaught of commercial marketing, data collection and online advertising

The online world is a huge part of life for many – adults and children alike. Children are increasingly more IT-savvy than their parents and the chances of bypassing parental control services by simply accessing a friend’s device is high. Short of bubble-wrapping our children or cutting off their access to all media, parents need to teach values-based media discernment at different ages and stages of a child’s life.

Apart from partnering schools and workplaces to provide “Plugged-In Parenting” education, Focus on the Family has partnered with the Media Literacy Council to develop a media discernment booklet that was distributed to parents through all primary one students. Yet we acknowledge that more still needs to be done to step up media literacy for both parents and children.

Parental control tools are just that – tools. The onus still lies on parents to set and teach boundaries, and keep the conversation going with their child while imparting values like self-control and moral responsibility to help them navigate new media.

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