The ALERT internet child exploitation unit says reports of online sexual exploitation in Alberta have spiked during the COVID-19 crisis. As Kendra Slugoski explains, in March, there more than double the average number of cases reported and increased internet use may be to blame.

Global News article.

Parents - we can prevent this! It means we have to stay involved! It means we know what game our children are on and WHO they are chatting with! It means knowing the abbreviations that are being used on those chats. Do you know the #1 kids game predators are using? (in the Global News link) Do you know what PIR stands for? What about WTTP?  You need to know if you are letting them chat with strangers. Here is an article to help you Learn Abbreviations Used by Predators

If you want to protect your kids onilne it means:

  • setting time limits to online screen time
  • having family rules such as no screens in the bedroom or behind closed doors - for the entire family
  • know who they are chatting with and what they are chatting about 
  • know their passwords 
  • Lot of Vitamin N! That's saying "NO". It's okay if your kids get upset, someday they will thank you 
  • find screen-free ways to connect  
  • role modeling healthy screen habits. If they see you obessed with this little rectangle all day - of course they will be curious too and I promise as they get older and face more temptation they won't just be looking for recipes and design ideas. You set the tone. Heck, I can sense my own addictive tendencies with these stupid little red hearts. It affects the brain. It affects my healthy, adult, informed, educated, well-rounded brain. Imagine what it is doing to our child's developing brain!? It isn't fair to them to have that much freedom. Do you let your kids eat whatever they want? Screens are no different. 

Yes your kids will resist. No they don't have to like it. If you have been giving unrestricted screen privileges up until now you will have a battle. However, consider this. By being strict on their screen time, you are helping your kids not to develop an early addiction to screens, games and social media. You are also giving them tools, healthy habits and the ability to practice self discipline. All of these will contribute to a higher quality of life. 

Before this shut down these were my family rules and this is a hill to die on for me as I know how addictive and hurtful screens can be. I also know the more children are on screens the higher their chance of stumbling on to porn (statistics report average age of first exposure is 6 - 10 yrs old) or being targeted by predators. 

Our rules before COVID:

  • no screen Monday - Thursday 
  • screens allowed Friday & Saturday only - timers must be set for 45 minutes, screens are in the open, no killing games, I approve all games (we haven't really actually discovered any games, kids are on very basic apps ABCYA for my 8 year old and my daughter mainly does Cool Math Games)
  • I talk to the children ALOT about self control and how they need to practice it for when they live on their own and I won't be there to make them set a timer or make them keep screens out of the bedroom 
  • Sunday is the Lord's day - no screens 

Two years ago for lent the kids gave up screens for 40 days. That really broke any dependency they had on it. Since they we never picked it back up to the same extent. I know I'll have to do that again once we are back to 'normal'.  Oh and we gave up TV channels about 14 years ago and have never missed it. 

COVID screen time rules:

  • no screen during the day Monday - Thursday other than school assignments 
  • possibly a short show with the family after supper (no games) Mon - Thurs, but not everyday. Are you getting the sense I hate games? In my opinion they don't add ANY VALUE TO LIFE! No one on their death bed will say "I wish I played more video games"! Plus games aren't designed to end, they are only designed to make you want to get to the next level. There are some disturbing studies on the science behind how games are created and desgined. 
  • 45 minutes of approved screen time Fri & Sat, maybe a family show at night but NOT if they haven't been active during the day 
  • no screen Sundays
  • regular bed times all week 

Aren't you glad you don't live with me! ;) My kids do not miss what they do not know and we have a great relationship. Once my son was asked on the bus "what video games do you play?" He said "I don't really." That was the end of the conversation. Life went on. 

I hope this gives you some ideas. I know times are changing but we don't have to accept everything our culture dishes out. Life is short. We have one shot. Let us live life to the fullest. Let us raise our own kids. Let us encourage them to play, create, explore. You'd be amazed at your own child's creativity IF they are allowed to develop one. 

What about parents? Oh, we're the WORST for self discipline! That's why I'm typing this at 11:42 pm and eating Haagen Dazs out of the (small) bucket!  I have to hide my phone from MYSELF weekly. I try to shut it down Sat night - Sunday night. I keep it above the fridge out of sight, sound is always off. 

Let your kids look at you face to face, not from the side angle. Play. Run. Laugh. Wrestle. EMBRACE THE GOOD, REJECT ANYTHING THAT DOESN'T BRING YOU AND YOUR FAMILY FULL AND COMPLETE JOY! THAT IS THE SECRET TO KEEPING YOUR KIDS SAFE. 

End of rant ;) 

#wecandothis #lowscreenlife #familytime #putitdown #fast #takeabreak #somedaytheywillthankyou #yourkidswantyou #100%present #stayinvolved