I am a product of the 70’s and 80’s. I grew up in a time when “playing” didn’t have a thing in the world to do with any type of electronic device. It was a simpler time when your neighbors were your best friends, imaginations ran rampant, and make believe was a ticket to other worlds. I vividly recall one of the most popular pretend games in the neighborhood and schoolyard was cops and robbers.
Some of my play mates preferred to be robbers. They enjoyed the imaginary “thrill” of stealthily nabbing plundered loot and the chase that ensued. I on the other hand, being the first born in my family with a deeply rooted type A personality, was much more comfortable and suited to be a cop. After all, even at a young age, I had a firm grasp on the notion that things of high personal value MUST be protected at all costs. I had been raised with the ideology that if it is precious, you must keep it “locked up as tight as Fort Knox”. At the time all I knew about Fort Knox was that it is where our nation kept its gold. Later on, I discovered that it was so much more.
Due to a 1933 executive order signed by FDR designed to alleviate stalled economic growth during the depression, the nation found itself in possession of $12 billion dollars worth of gold and no safe place to house it. As a result, the United States Bullion Depository, better known as Fort Knox, was constructed at a cost of $560,000 (equivalent of $9,420,624 today).
The outer walls of the depository are constructed of granite lined with concrete which is reinforced with approximately 1500 tons of steel. The vault itself has concrete and steel walls that are 21 inches thick, and it is sealed by a door that weighs over 20 tons. There are guard boxes at each of the four corners, sentry boxes at the entrance gate, and a steel fence that encircles its perimeter. The depository is protected with the most modern security devices and is under the protection of the army base at Fort Knox. No visitors are allowed at any time.
Contrary to popular belief, the depository has been the safe place for much more than gold. It has been home to the original copies of the US Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and one of four original copies of the Magna Carta. It has also held the gold reserves for many European countries as well as crowned jewels belonging to several countries.
Now, I am grown up lady with the majority of my children swiftly entering adulthood, themselves. Yet, one thing has remained unchanged since my younger years. I still understand, and in all likelihood even more so, the concept of guarding over treasure. However, unlike the treasure protected deeply within the vault at Fort Knox, today I am much more concerned about safeguarding something much more precious. We must guard the hearts of our children.
My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
Give careful thought to thepaths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.
We, like Solomon, are charged with teaching our children how to guard their hearts. It is a job that we as parents must not take lightly. Yes, it is a JOB. It requires forethought, planning, and consistent monitoring. Fort Knox is fortified, guarded, and uses all means available to protect its contents. We must follow this same plan of action when it comes to our children’s precious hearts.
Our children are bombarded with sinful images on every front. They are especially susceptible due to the technology saturated world in which we live. Boys and girls as young as two years old can use smart phones and tablets as well as (or better than) adults. Because of this ease of use and the contentment it seems to elicit, we might easily be lulled into a sense of complacency. We must remember this.
1 Peter 5:8
“Be sober-minded; be watchful.
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion,
seeking someone to devour.”
Unfortunately, many times that “someone” is your child.
What’s a parent to do? Lock up your entire family allowing no contact with the outside world? (I have been tempted to go this route many times!) Even if this sounds tempting, it isn’t feasible or advisable for the Christian. We are told to
“….let your light shine before others,
so that they may see your good works
and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
So, what is the alternative? Just like Fort Knox, we can set ourselves up as guards and utilize the latest technological security devices available to us. Consider the following areas.
The most important thing that must be established up front is your absolute authority over the use of the computer, tablet, smart phone, or Ipod.
Only keep these items in common areas of the home. You would be ill advised to allow your child to have private access to internet enabled devices in their bedrooms, alone. Be sure your children know that in order to use these devices, they must follow your rules. Make sure guidelines for use are clearly understood. Also, make sure consequences of misuse are clearly understood and always followed through. Also, assure your children of your ability to go back through the browser history and see ALL of their on-line activity. As added security, many internet filters are available to download. Some are free and others have premiums that range from inexpensive to quite expensive. Open DNS Family Shield is a free web filter. It instantly blocks access to adult websites. When set up on the router in your home, every device in your home is protected. This includes X-box, Playstation, Wii, DS, iPad, iPod, iPhone, etc. Did I mention that it is FREE?
This is a tough one. The age requirement to sign up for a Facebook account is 13 years of age. You alone know if your teen is mature enough to handle this responsibility. If you decide to grant permission to your teen to access Facebook, I personally believe you must be completely ready to devote a great deal of time to monitoring his/her activity. Here are a few things you can do to make their account a little safer.
-Know your child’s password
-You have ultimate say of who will be accepted as their Facebook friend
-Go to privacy settings
-Limit access on all settings to only friends
Again, as with all social media, you are going to have to be in control and constantly monitor your teen’s activity. Just like Facebook, Twitter requires that one be at least 13 years of age to sign up for an account. Really the only safety mechanism on Twitter is setting your account to protect your tweets. You would have to set up rules as to whom your teen will follow. By protecting tweets you will be able to say yes or no to follower requests.
The best defense when it comes to television viewing is educating one’s self on programming. One way to do this is by using Focus on the Family’s pluggedin.com. It gives reviews on movies, videos, music, TV, and games. This is an excellent free resource. Also, to catch foul language that might occasionally slip in, you might consider investing in a TV Guardian. It is a foul language filter that you can use on non-live television programming. Another investment you might consider is the Clearplay DVD player. It filters vulgarity, nudity, violence, and more. It has been my experience that commercials are as bad or worse than the actual programming. One trick to avoid this problem is to record your favorite show and fast forward through the ads.
Ultimately, you have to decide what, if any, of these things you will allow your children to indulge. All of these suggestions are just aides to help you accomplish the goal of guarding your children’s eyes and hearts.
I am sure if I ask you what is your most important possession, most assuredly you would say your children. Their hearts are worth much more than the billions of dollars of gold at Fort Knox.Therefore, we must be even more vigilant guarding their hearts than the military that protects the US gold reserves. After all,
“For what will it profit a man
if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?
Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
I am in no way affiliated with any of the above suggested products, nor do I receive any compensation from them.
US Bullion Depository photo By Cliff [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons