Hold me and I will be safe…
Among God’s greatest gifts to us are our children and youth. They are our hope for the future. As parents, we would love to hold our children 24/7 to ensure their safety. Although that is impossible, there is much we can do.
June is National Safety Month. It’s also the start of summer, which means children have more free time. Many youth turn to video gaming and social media to fill those hours. While we all realize the importance of being vigilant with our children’s use of technology, sometimes we lack practical information to employ specific strategies to help kids interact and participate in technology with wisdom, discretion and with various protections in place. As part of its ongoing effort to protect the young people we serve, the Diocese of Columbus offers the following information from its “Protecting God’s Children” program:
• Develop an interest in their online gaming activities. It is necessary to learn about the games our children are playing so we can evaluate the content for ourselves. CommonSenseMedia.org is a great way to obtain detailed reviews on certain games before giving your child permission to play them.
• Familiarize yourself with gaming rating systems. The most respected ratings from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) have three components: “categories” indicate the level of maturity needed to play the game in question; “content” means whether the game contains profanity, nudity, etc.; “interaction” means whether the game allows for contact from another gamer, provides the ability to share personal information or to pinpoint one’s location. Parents should clearly understand the ratings for every game the children in your life plays, and make usage decisions accordingly.
• Control the online gaming experience. There are a number of customizable features available within each gaming environment, such as turning off voice chat and text chat or restricting those who can contact you through a “buddy list.” Parents can visit “A Guide to Setting Up Parental Controls for Video Games” from the ESRB.
• With social media use, parents can best protect their children by educating themselves, particularly if we didn’t grow up with such technology ourself. Recently ABC’s “Good Morning America” aired a special series called “What Your Teens Don’t Want You to Know.” The Center for Ministry Development offers a synopsis of the series at https://www.cmdnet.org/entry/what-i-didnt-know-about-my-teens-use-of-social-media.
Parents should take every precaution as we raise children. And when we think that we have done all we physically can to keep them safe, we then pray that God will also watch over them. While we as parents cannot hold them 24/7, He as the Father of us all certainly can.
*The Diocese of Columbus participates in Virtus, a program and service of the National Catholic Risk Retention Group, Inc. See www.virtus.org for further information.
St. Francis de Sales Parish Catholic Church
40 Granville St.
Newark, Ohio 43055