Hayden church provides parent media training

Technology has changed the way we do business, the way we gather information, the way we communicate, and to some extent, the way we entertain ourselves. It also poses a great challenge to parents’ efforts to keep their children safe from harmful influences.

That is why First Baptist Church of Hayden has reached out to educate parents and the community on media safety. Their efforts provide parents practical information on Internet safety, digital devices, and technology trends that affect children today.

Jeremy Powell, pastor of First Baptist, recognized the need for parental education on Internet safety after hearing concerns of sexting in surrounding schools.

Some kids send well over 1000 texts every month, but regular back-and-forth text messaging takes on a different meaning when it becomes “sexting.” Sexting is the word used to describe sending sexual messages, pictures, or videos over the cell phone. Research shows that over 33 percent of kids have received a sext message, 11 percent have taken a naked picture of themselves with a cell phone, and 20 percent of teens have been pressured by their boyfriend and/or girlfriend to take a naked photo.

“I think these kids don’t realize how harmful this is,” says Powell. “They don’t realize that exploiting themselves in this way is not only criminal; it’s dangerous.”

“Many parents are unaware of the dangers kids face when they go online,” says Powell. “These dangers include inappropriate material, sharing personal information, web predators and cyberbullying. When you add in cell phones, Facebook, and digital devices into the mix, it becomes difficult to keep up with it all.”

Realizing the importance of educating the community on media safety, Powell not only launched the iSafe media training to the community, but strives to continue to educate parents with resources to help ensure that they and their families are guarded against inappropriate material or contact.

“Technology has added a new dimension to our parenting, and we need to be aware of the dangers our kids face online. I believe educating parents on media safety is the key to keeping our kids safe online.”

Please consider taking the following steps:

• Establish family guidelines for Internet and cell phone use. (LG Mobile has created a website to help parents better understand texting and how it relates to their kids. Go to www.lge.com,
select “Mobile Phones,” “Text Messaging,” then “Text Education.” Other providers include AT&T, Smart Limits; Verizon, Safeguards; T-Mobile, Web- Guard; Sprint, Family Locator.)

• Purchase reliable Internet filtering software. (For a good explanation of filters, go to www.commonsensemedia.org
Free filters available at www.safefamilies.org.)

• Periodically review what sites have been accessed and with whom your child is in contact, both online and via cell phone. (Visit websites such as Safety Web, SocialShield, and MyChild.)

• Consult media assessment tools. (Many resources help you monitor and evaluate the movies, music, DVDs, and video games that affect your kids and their friends, including sites: www.
pluggedinonline.com; www.thesource
4ym.com; www.cpyu.org; www.thesource
4ym.com/youthculturewindow; fuller