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Protecting Our Homes in the Internet Age

By Comeuntochrist.org
Mom and kids in front of a laptop

Best and Worst

Could Charles Dickens have known how perfectly his words would describe our relationship with the Internet when he penned the line “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” over a century ago? The Internet is truly amazing. With all the good it can accomplish, how did we ever survive without it? On the other hand, the Internet provides instant access to an influx of evil. With the click of a button, uplifting and innocent browsing can turn spiritually, morally, and even physically dangerous if not carefully guarded.

In this environment, how do we protect our families from the dark side of the Internet while still enjoying the blessings it provides? Here are three suggestions for strengthening our homes against the evil influences of the Internet so we can enjoy the good without falling victim to the bad.

Teach Correct Principles

When asked how he was able to govern so many people and still maintain order, the Prophet Joseph Smith replied, “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.” Our families have constant access to the Internet. Everything from phones to fridges connect wirelessly, making it virtually impossible to monitor every online activity within our homes. Therefore, we must teach family members correct principles related to Internet safety and encourage them to govern themselves.

Share your moral and religious values with your children. Teach them the damaging, spirit-deadening effects of pornography, online gambling, and inappropriate chat rooms. And teach them how to recognize the Spirit of Christ (see Moroni 7:16–18) so they can identify potential hazards. As Elder M. Russell Ballard has taught, we must ensure that our children are not “more familiar with Google than they are with the gospel [of Jesus Christ], more attuned to the Internet than to inspiration, and more involved with Facebook than with faith.”

Strengthen the Borders

In addition to correct principles, it’s also a good idea to strengthen the borders of our homes against the growing tide of evil available on the Internet by setting up boundaries and guidelines. Among the many options available, here are a few to consider:

  • Use an Internet filter. It may not catch everything, but it will greatly reduce the number of unwanted ads and pictures on the sites your children frequent.
  • Keep all computers and other electronic devices in high traffic areas in the home. In most cases, bedrooms and other private spaces should be off limits to Internet browsing. Children are less likely to visit inappropriate sites if others are present.
  • Unplug overnight. Give the Internet a curfew by checking in devices or turning off the Internet connection at a specified time. Late nights, lack of sleep, and Internet surfing often lead down dangerous paths.
  • Practice safe Internet use together. Teach your children to avoid mindless browsing. Use the Internet to accomplish specific tasks and then shut it down when the tasks are complete. It’s a simple thing, but it will yield great results.

Keep Talking

Finally, talk with your children about Internet safely a lot. Let your kids know you are always available to listen to their concerns and missteps. In our Internet-saturated world today, it’s not a matter of if your children will encounter unsavory material but when. Let them know that if you work together, you can avoid the pitfalls so your time on the Internet really can be the “best of times.”

For more information on making your home safe from the evil influences on the Internet, please see Fighting Internet Filth for some great suggestions.