January 29, 2008

 

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)

 

Devotion:

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)

 

Proverbs 31 Ministries

616-G, Matthews-Mint Hill Road

Matthews, NC 28105
www.Proverbs31.org