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10 Ways to Control Access Online

This week, there were several reports about a library district which has had complaints from parents about other adult patrons viewing pornography, which their children have been exposed to somehow.  This is part of an issue that influenced me to really start training my kids on being careful what they consume into their bodies through the senses.  Actually, this started years ago with the introduction of the song, "Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See."  This habit, or focus, is so imperative as an adult Christian.  It was not taught pervasively when I was younger, not becoming a fundament of living a Christian life.  Of course, who knew way back in history, that the world would be wide opened to anyone who accesses the internet.  In today's world, it is a prevalent teaching and thought that everyone should feel free to do whatever they wish, not thinking of consequences, and being tolerant of everyone else who chooses to press the limits of existence.  This, unfortunately tends to incite folks on polar opposite ends of religious, political, philosophic, scientific, etc. ways of thinking and living to battle in ways which can be radical.  Yet ethical lines are becoming blurry.  So who is "right?"

So, we had a discussion about the differences in the library systems from when I was a kid, to today.  Do you remember the smell of the wood drawers in the card catalogue?  Wondering what a great job it must have been to type all of those cards and filing them in those wooden drawers with brass door pulls, which slid so smoothly in the perfectly chiseled drawer holes, and then, late,r in the disgusting metal file cabinets?  I felt so independent as a kid, being able to look for the author or title in those card catalogues, and then finding the treasure between hard-covered containers with magical pages inside, easily on the library shelf.  Who would have fathomed back then that there were more authors than Judy Blume, and book series such as Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys?
Today, not only can you find book lists, but you can go to a computer (not invented way back when in the history of libraries... I'm just sayin'!) look up a topic, person, event even a T.V. show - even if it is on cable - at any age, and possibly watch episodes, AT ANY AGE.  And the library cannot censor material for anyone who has a library card.  ANYONE!  Could this possibly be a little much for certain people, not just the children?  I know it would be for me at a younger age, not knowing that I should possibly be careful not to let the temptation of "access" infiltrate my desire to stay focused on the God Whom I serve.  So to you who read this, remember, it's not too late to limit or define what is okay to look for on the World Wide Web.

Here are 10 (ten) things I wish I had implemented, from the get-go, into my exposure on the computer. These are tactics - it can be a battlefield online.  I will be adopting them for myself and my family.  Feel free to repeat it, as written or modified, for your situation, occupation, etc.:

1.  I will make a Mission Statement.  It does not have to be fancy.  Just something to remind me of what is important to me while I am on an adventure online.  I will post it somewhere on, or near, my computer(s) and work spaces where I use my laptop.  Here is an example:  Our family mission online is to seeking God and Truth.  To use online as a tool for learning, communicating and sharing while honoring Our Lord.  Philippians 4: 4 - 18

2.  Pray before turning on the computer.  No it is not cheesy, especially when God strongly advises us to pray (Philippians 4:18).  Sometimes I pray that my computer will work, which may be a little frivolous, but it is honestly on my mind sometimes.  My laptop is falling apart - the monitor is hanging by a single hinge-thingy.  My speakers stopped working last week.  But that's beside the point.  Also, pray for God's guidance and that He will open my eyes and mind to see more truth about Him, help me ignore the junk, and help me love others in my communication exchanged with associates, acquaintances, friends and family

3.   It is okay to set a time limit to be online for myself and family members, especially for social networking.  I will make an appointment for being online.  Put it in the schedule.  Then, before logging on, I will set the timer on the stove, get the egg timer, or set the one on my cell.

4.  It is more than okay to say "NO" to things I know are not appropriate.  Close a window before I have time to think about it, if something appears unrelated to what I want for my life.

5.  REMEMBER:  My presence online, I mean lack of it, is not going to be the end of the world.  If someone who is important to me has something to say or ask, they can call me or text.

6.  When in doubt, don't do it!!!  Remember, there is no love in fear.  Doubt is maybe a little more subtle of a word, but it is anxiety, which is fear.

7.  Make a shopping list of things I want to learn more about, shop for, ads to place, etc., and bring the list to the computer when going online.  It can save time.

8.  When typing up something like an advertisement, article, blog - do it offline.  Edit and proofread it offline.  Then post it during your next online appointment.  I really need to work on this one!!  If you are anything like me, I need to read things aloud to make sure everything is fit for public access.  Sometimes, reading it aloud again, after taking a break from it

9.  As in most things in life, trust my instincts.  If something does not feel right, it most likely is not.  Flee from it!!  This goes along with number 6 above.  It is a good habit to be more careful about things.

10.  Never, NEVER communicate online while overwhelmed with emotion.  Pick up the phone and call someone you trust and know will advise you according to what your life ambition is, whether that be to be God's servant, or maybe in the best interest of living a productive life.  I, as a parent, need to diligently discuss, and be available to communicate about things with which my kids interact online, and in this wide, open world we live.  My kids came to me a few days ago, asking what something meant that a friend said.  I explained, in an age appropriate way, what it was and why it was inappropriate.  I thanked them for coming to me.  There is no guarantee that I handled it perfectly for each of them, but I pray that they understood, without judging the friend, that they do not have to adopt certain things into their own way of living.

This mostly boils down to self-control.  It is a muscle that I personally plan to exercise more.  Remembering, though, that I need His power through the Holy Spirit, to help me.  Prioritize.  It is especially important to me to actually spend time with the people I love, and who love me well.  That is a priority for me.  Social networking can be fun, but it is important to remember that it is only a tool, not a relationship.  Being able to access information on the internet so easily is wonderful, but do we really need to pursue all the information, images, videos, songs, etc. we pursue?  I wonder if people felt the same way when the wheel was invented?

Be careful out there!

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