Our children are growing up in uncharted territory.
First, the amount of screen time, flashing, blue lights, can be detrimental to a child’s brain development as it is. The amount of screen time, from a very young age, has been now linked by researchers to many different cognitive delays and disorders.
This is indeed a problem in itself for example, children who crave in-real-life-picture-book-stories rather than a screen have a stronger development of their cerebellum and higher-order brain networks (Meghan Cox Gurdon, The Enchanted Hour). Skills of language, attention, and imagination suffer gravely with too much screen time. I will not delve into this tragic phenomenon in this post, but will in the future.
There is an abundance of resources available online for adults and children alike. History comes alive with the help of the internet. Science and nature study is assisted ten-fold with the help of videos and streaming. Our children can see the Scolytus rugulosus (the shothole borer tiny South African Beetle) under the bark of a plum tree up close without ever having to jump on a plane. They can witness an Asian tiger stalking its prey with the click of a button.
This is good.
If used correctly.
The internet has taught our children that their curiosities can be answered with a click of a button. They don’t have to “work hard at” finding solutions to age-old questions. Having constant gratification, even if it is intellectual gratification, can have its repercussions. We have some entitled children, do we not? Why does the older generation (or us parents) keep referring back to, “When I was your age….”
Because things were very, very different.
None of this is said to make any parent feel guilty.
We supplement our studies with various movies and resources!
But these topics should be thought over. Combed over. Mulled over until we find the right solution for handling safety online and screen time in general.
What is the right outcome for our children? How do we know we are not steering them wrong by making the world available at any time and any place?
I believe in using the internet safely and smartly.
There are an unprecedented amount of predators.
This cannot be overemphasized.
They are stalking their prey like that Asian tiger. They want your child addicted to that video game, or that social media app, and yes, the pornographic material that they showcase in advertisements “meant for kids” or in the comments of “kid-friendly” YouTube channels.
The devil works and works. And in our society, when it comes to this of epic proportions, it appears he is winning.
But there is still good. There are many people working to ensure children have access to many topics! Fun math games! Current events!
I want to share some that we have safely used.
(Of course, unfortunately, pornogrpahic sites buy child sounding domains, so please check what your child is looking at and monitor often and daily.
Computers and tablets and phones (if you must) should be always in a central location of the home.
Your child should not be allowed alone with that device.
Would you leave them alone with a dangerous stranger?
No — but there are millions of dangerous strangers on that device.
Protect them. With all your heart and might.
Check your devices “Content Restrictions”! Those are valuable! You can turn off explicit language, adult sites, keep ratings at PG and below. This will at least censor some things coming in. It’s a start! This is a free solution! (And while you’re at it, limit their screen time to just one — max two — hours a day!)
If you think they need a phone so they can call you from practice, consider the Gabb Phone!! (You can use the code WILDFLOWER for 50 percent off!!) This looks like the latest tech-y phone, but it does not have social media or internet!! Win!! They can make calls, text, and take pictures. — Don’t want them to take pictures? Get the Gabb Watch!! We will buy this in the future — that time may be 13 or older, we will look at each individual child to see what their needs predict.
Here are some of the Online Safety Resources we have used and enjoyed in our home.
Firewalla is our Cyber Security of choice for our home network. Their site has videos explaining how it works.
How Does Firewalla Cyber Security Work?
Firewalla’s main packet processing engine has four different stages:
- Deep Insight: Make sense of all network traffic. Dig deep and understand what they are.
- Active Protect: Intrusion detection services to detect bad things and Intrusion prevention services to block before bad things happen.
- Behavior analytics: See things from a different angle.
- Control: This is where you tell us what to do. Applying sophisticated rules to control traffic flows.
A good alternative: We used the Circle before upgrading to a Firewalla. Overall, we were happy with how it worked and it had very good coverage with the ability to control with your own app on your smart phone.
Other home filtering devices personal friends have used or recommended include: Qustodio, Covenant Eyes, Eero, Bark.
Important Videos on these topics:
Safe Online Learning Links for Kids
Current Events and News for kids: Dogonews.com
Conservative News and cartoons for kids: https://www.prageru.com/kids
A World of Art with Met Kids https://www.metmuseum.org/art/online-features/metkids/
Superbook Bible Website for kids: https://us-en.superbook.cbn.com/
Adventures in Odyssey: https://www.adventuresinodyssey.com
Christian Science for kids: https://answersingenesis.org/kids/
PBS Nature: https://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/
National Geographic Kids: https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/
Greatest Engineering Achievements: http://www.greatachievements.org/
Make Me Genius Science Lessons: https://makemegenius.com/
America’s Story & History: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/
American History & Time Periods: http://exhibits.museum.state.il.us/exhibits/athome/index.html
The First Thanksgiving: http://www.scholastic.com/scholastic_thanksgiving/index.html
Civil War History: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/collection/cwp/
Plymouth / Patuxet / Plymouth Rock History: https://plimoth.org/
Odyssey: Ancient History online https://carlos.emory.edu/htdocs/ODYSSEY/index.html
Discovering Egypt: https://discoveringegypt.com
Classical Music: https://www.classicalarchives.com/midi.html
Creating Music: http://www.creatingmusic.com/
Free Online Guitar Lessons: https://www.guitarlessons.com/guitar-lessons
Introduction to Reading Music & Instruments: https://datadragon.com/education/reading/
Fun Brain: chess, sudoku and books https://www.funbrain.com/
Brainbashers: brain teasers, riddles, puzzles https://www.brainbashers.com/
Word Game Time: http://www.wordgametime.com/
Math Games & Resources for Safe Online Math Learning
Basic Arithmetic: https://hebrews110.github.io/arithmetic/
Rounding to 10: https://hebrews110.github.io/roundingToTen/
ABCYa Games for all Elementary Grades: https://www.abcya.com/games/place_value_hockey
Rounding Games: https://www.roomrecess.com/mobile/SirRoundalot/play.html
Rounding Numbers: http://www.aaamath.com/B/g32_rox1.htm
Rounding Hundreds: http://www.aaamath.com/B/g32_rox2.htm#section2
More Rounding Hundreds: https://www.free-training-tutorial.com/rounding/sharks.html
Telling Time: https://www.roomrecess.com/mobile/TimeTeller/play.html
Telling the Time Game: https://ictgames.com/mobilePage/hickoryDickory/
Making Numbers: https://hebrews110.github.io/makeNumbers/
Whole Math Curriculums:
Arithmetic Drills: https://mydrills.puzzlefast.com/arithmetic
Free Math Mastery Games & Questions by grade: https://www.ixl.com/math
Math Facts Practice Suggestions: https://allinonehomeschool.com/math-facts-practice/
Free Math Lessons at Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/math
Many more free games and lessons can be found at Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool! https://allinonehomeschool.com
I hope these online safe resources are a blessing to you! Our children need our protecting just like little lambs need fencing! It is not because the Shepherd wants the lambs to be stifled from growing up or learning. It is that he wants them to thrive in the green pastures provided. Children thrive with boundaries!
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
So be careful little eyes what you see