Who’s in Your Space?
By Susanne Scheppmann

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5 (NIV)

Black lingerie barely covered the girl’s petite body. Written in red marker across her stomach were provocative words aimed for seduction. She was thirteen and an active member of her church youth group.

Aghast, I sat silent watching my neighbor’s daughter dance across the computer screen. My neighbor asked, “How did this happen? What is this MySpace?”

Hot angry tears ran down my cheeks. Once again, MySpace.com struck close to home. Just a month before, I had discovered a teenage relative of mine dressed in macabre attire spewing profanities before a camera. Her gothic attire and horrific language went against everything I knew about the one I had affectionately thought of as a “bookworm.”

MySpace.com is one of several websites that promotes social networking. Anyone can setup a profile and say anything about himself or herself. It provides a false sense of anonymity and safety for teens. They can promote themselves as sexy, daring, or rebellious. Really, how many teenagers are going to admit that they’re a bookworm? It’s more fun to become someone they’re not. It can turn out to be a masquerade of self before an audience of millions.

Sexual predators search social networks such as MySpace.com looking for innocent victims who are usually unaware of the danger. When immature and unaware kids foray onto the Internet, doors open for insidious people to come into the space of your home.

So, what can we moms do? We can wise up and go on the offense. Let’s heed the advice found in Proverbs 2:11, “Wise planning will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe” (NLT).

Know Who’s in Your Space
We need to know who is coming into our homes uninvited. (This can include our kids who may be engaging in online behavior beyond our recognition.) In today’s world of computers, Internet, and cell phones, it is not always easy to know what our children are doing – alone or with friends. Usually, teens are savvy when it comes to the world of electronics, so we need to become proactive in our awareness. As mothers who want to protect our children, we should talk with them about online dangers and take steps to guard against unacceptable Internet activity.

Take Advantage of this Opportunity
Let’s remember the computer is not the enemy. (To me, it is the best thing since the microwave!) The evil that lurks on the Internet comes from the evil one, not the hardware. So, “Be on guard. Stand true to what you believe. Be courageous. Be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13, NLT). See this as an opportunity to connect with your children on their own turf. Allow them to discover that you can be fun and interactive, even in their space.

Most importantly, let’s ask for wisdom from our heavenly Father to aid in understanding what’s in our space—our homes.

Lord Jesus, grant me wisdom in raising my children in the age of the Internet. I ask that you give my children wisdom and discernment when they go online. In Your Name, I pray.

Related Resources:

Disconnected: Parenting Teens in a MySpace World, by Chap and Dee Clark

Perplexing Proverbs—A Woman’s Bible Study, by Susanne Scheppmann

Visit Susanne’s Blog

Application Steps:
● Talk with your child/children about the Internet.
● Discuss what may happen if they masquerade as someone they are not.
● Don’t assume your child would not masquerade on the Internet.
● Keep your computers in family rooms. Do not allow your teens to shut themselves up in their
room with a laptop or PC.
● Consider not using wireless networking in your home so you can limit Internet access only to
rooms with family activity.
● Talk openly with your children about social networking sites. Ask to see some of their friends’
sites. If they willingly show you how to log onto a friend’s site, jot down passwords and
usernames. Once you log on, you can hopscotch to other teen profiles.
● Know your kid’s friends and their parents. Make allies with other parents and ask them to
help you with the task of discovering who’s in your computer space.
● Be spiritually aware and on guard. Pray that God will give you wisdom and direction as you
begin to maneuver in the world of teen cyberspace.

Reflections:

Do I know what my child is doing on the Internet?

How can I educate myself on new technology?

Power Verses:

1 Corinthians 16:13, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.” (NIV)

Proverbs 4:11, “I guide you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.” (NIV)


9 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

AMEN! This is so timely and well written. I'm not a mother, but I am a teacher to 8-9 years old. I can only WISH that more parents were "on guard" as to what they're children are doing on the internet and even watching. No, the internet is not evil. But, we must be aware of the evils that are more attainable to our children through it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is wonderful advice. However as a wife to a husband that is a Christian yet struggles with sexual addiction, we also needs to talk to our spouses about this for the very same reason - to keep our marriages sacred. Men are so vulnerable visually - simliar to how women can be vulnerable emotionally. We all need to be kept in check when it comes to online communications.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We live in difficult times and our children are just consumed by so many negative and literally erotic images...It's not even safe to have the t.v. on in the mornings either and the internet, although just a tool, can be a harm as well as a benefit.

It astounds me of hearing parents "boast" how well they raised their kids and yet don't montior (or care) what their kids are looking at on the computer or give them cell phones and don't moniter them there...It may seem innocent but not all that glitters is gold and just recipes for disaster...

With phones having access to the internet and youtube and all those new and developing technology, it doesn't make one a bad parent or big brother to keep vigilant with watching and advising our children and not say...the t.v. is harmful or the outside world is harmful but YET allow the outside world free access via the internet or cell phones (that aren't just for talking anymore with all their "fun" features).

The enemy looks for ANY weakness and nothing is more ripe and accessible than a child's mind.

Can I just say Amen?! Thanks for writing this. This is such an important issue in today's world!
Blessings,
Angela

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My husband also struggles with pornography (I honestly think most men do, if not all of them). This was the original reason that we decided to keep all of our computers in the living areas of our house. Now that my kids are getting older, this is definitely something we will continue. This one thing has made a HUGE difference in our family. Very good suggestion (along with all the others, too!).

Anonymous L said...

you can install hardware that will keep records of EVERYTHING that is done on the computer. it can be placed in stealth mode so that the user doesn't know it's there. i have chosen one called Spectre. i have a child who is much smarter than me when it comes to computers. however, he does not know it is there. i am careful how i address things that i see on the computer because i don't want him to know it's there. the internet is awesome! it's our responsibility to keep it in check. thanks for the reminder today! blessings

Blogger The Light Family said...

Thank you for the advice. My son has just started taking interest in playing games on the computer with him being 6 years old. My husband and I are trying to find where we need to draw the line on how much time is appropriate to be on the computer, and if we should be allowing him this priviledge now or wait until later.

The verses you gave are awesome! I will be showing them to my husband and hopefully we'll start using them in our prayers together.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am one of those "mean moms" who care enough to be "mean". I also engage my friends who are less internet/computer savvy to be more involved about what their kids are doing on the internet. One friend was shocked to find out all her son was doing. I learned the hard way, and would not have internet access in home or business without an AFA BSAFE ONLINE filter. It even emails me to tell me what blocked sites were attempted to be accessed. Protecting our children's innocence is worth our time, and the cost of this filter.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

God through His infinite wisdom lead me to do a google search yesterday and much to my dismay what I found grieved my soul. As you wrote in the devotion, your neighbor found video of her daughter. Unfortunately, so did I. It wasn't under my teen age daughters myspace but her friends. Her real name and location and age were posted along with several thousand disgusting comments from other myspace viewers. And 8 videos my daughter made for "fun" with her friends.

As I prayed and prayed and hoped that it wasn't my daughter in those videos and pictures, God opened my eyes to lead her from the darkness back into the light.

I called her on the phone and first asked, not accused her of having a friendship with two girls specifically. Then I asked her if they made any videos. I course she denied it until I came out with the evidence of what I saw and explained to her what was online.

My daughter doesn't see the seriousness in this type of behavior. I reminded her that not only does this affect her but others. And that there are stalkers looking for girls just like her and her friends are leading her right into destruction. She came back in anger. Blamed me for bad parenting. I calmly acknowledged that although I could not change the past, I am learning by Gods grace to be a better parent. This behaviour is not because of my parenting but because of her heart.

I told her that I loved her but I did not approve of this behavior and that since she was living with her dad and step mom that I would talk to her dad and leave it up to him to discipline her. The other thing I thought about was that I would suggest that her dad take her out for a "Daddy daughter date night" and encourage her to be pure and show her that she is loved. (She is the oldest out of 6 siblings and feels that she is not a priority in my life but she is.)

So please let me encourage other parents to not be blind. And when your children come across sinful behavior, to confront them in love. That does not mean to excuse or allow the behavior to continue but make a plan to avoid future occurences. I told her that she needs to call her friend and have the videos and her name removed from the posts.

STAND FAST! BE STRONG!

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