Building a safe, healthy digital home (Hint: It’s not the filters)

  • September 15, 2015
  • / By Cory

Note: This is the first part of a series on Building a Safe and Healthy Digital Home. Before the real building begins, though…

Where to begin

My uncle is a carpenter. When he builds a home, he’s not thinking about the fence.

Obviously, that’s one of the last things to go up. After the foundation is poured, the sub-flooring laid, the walls framed and sheathed, the roof, the wiring, the plumbing…you get the idea. No carpenter would ever start with the fence.

The fence is only there to protect the investment, to keep trouble away from that which has so carefully and lovingly been built.

In my conversations with fellow parents about digital citizenship and internet safety, the subject quickly (and naturally) turns to filters, monitoring software, and other ways to block the nasty stuff from getting to their kids.

The unfortunate truth? The nasty stuff will always get to our kids. For the rest of their life.

That’s not to say we neglect the fence altogether, of course. We need to be responsible parents and protect the investment that is our home and our family.

But our time and parenting would be much better spent building a complete digital home. Molding the many aspects of their character, their communication, and their conduct.

To build this, we need the entire blueprint, not just a fence pattern, some boards, and some white paint.

And it all begins with…

The Foundation

Sorry, parents. Before we even get to guide our kids in this digital world, we have to turn the iPhone camera on ourselves first.

I am constantly asking myself: How is my use of technology, especially when I’m around my children? Do I practice good digital citizenship and online safety? Am I modeling the technology behaviors I want to see in my sons?

And I’m not always happy with the answers.

In one of my stellar parenting moments, I found myself sitting in my comfy chair with laptop on lap, yelling across the screen at my boys that it’s about time you get off your screens and do something productive.

Parent of the Year nomination lost, once again.

As parents, we already know that raising children is not a passive sport. We need to deliberately teach manners, stranger-danger, how to wipe/blow/brush/wash, and hundreds of other things.

Yet, how easily we slip into a hope-and-pray mentality when it comes to the device in our kid’s hand.

To be effective digital parents building a healthy digital home, we need to be consistent, persistent, deliberate, united, and creative. Is it harder if we don’t know the tech as well as we think our kids do? Absolutely. Does that absolve us of our responsibility to actively teach and model good digital citizenship?

Absolutely not.

In this series, we’ll take a tour of the whole digital house–upstairs, downstairs, and outside. And along the way, we’ll have to ask ourselves some tough questions about how well we are building each room.

But if our goal is to raise healthy, balanced kids in a digital world, I think it’s worth asking those questions.

Ready? The front door is this way…
What are your greatest struggles in building a safe and healthy digital home? (I’d love to hear that I’m not alone in this! Leave your comments below.)

Other posts in this series:

  • First Floor (The Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, and Office)
  • Upstairs (The Bedroom, Library, and Closet)
  • Outside Spaces (the Front Porch, Garage, Backyard, and the Fence)

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