Keeping Your Kids Safe Online:4 Guidelines For Parents

Earlier this week, I posted about 5 Social Media sites your kids are probably using. (You can check it out here.)  It's always good to know where our kids & teens are hanging out...even online. But it's even better to set some standards in our families to help keep our kids safe online & to help them win with things like social media.

So here are four guidelines that can help your family develop a plan for keeping your kids safe online.

4 Ways To Keep Your Kids Safe Online

#1: Know your kid's usernames and passwords. Regardless of how much or how little you allow your kid to be online, you should have access to their online passwords and usernames.

#2: Check your kid's profiles regularly..and communicate this to them! If your child was hanging out at someone's home or in another neighborhood on a regular basis, you'd check out the environment. It's no different online. As parents, we should consistently check our child's online activity and profiles. But be sure you communicate to your child that you'll be doing this. You don't have to tell them when you'll do it, but communicating to your child that you will be checking from time to time does two things: First of all, it helps them have accountability to you on the front-end. Secondly, it allows you to build trust because you're not spying on them if you've already communicated you'll be checking in on them.

#3: Set time limits & "hours of operation" for online activity and social media usage.  As a family, set standards for how long per day your kids can be online and what hours of the day you expect for their social media activity to be "closed." Remember to include phone usage into these limits, since much of social media is done through smartphone apps.

#4: Keep your computer in public places. One of the best ways you can help your children stay accountable in their online activity and relationships is to be sure that you keep all computers in your home in public places, like the living room, family room, or office. The accountability that this provides helps your kids avoid visiting questionable sites and engaging in dangerous relationships.

Your Kids & Social Media

If you have a preteen or teenager, chances are they are using social media of some kind. As a parent, navigating this ever-changing world of online connections can be daunting and overwhelming.  

Here are five social media sites - along with some brief descriptions - that kids are using:

Tumblr - Current stats show that over 60% of Tumblr's users are teens. Tumblr also links with facebook and allows people to share across platforms. Teenagers love tumblr for it's fast pace sharing of photos and quotes. 

Instagram - Instagram allows users to upload pictures and short videos to share with their friends and followers. Instagram’s main functions are done on its mobile app for iPhone and Android. You can start an Instagram account where you are able to search for people by looking up their name or importing your Facebook contacts.
Twitter - Twitter is a social media site that allows people to connect through short, text-like, 140 character updates. If you sign up for your own twitter account, you can search your child's name to see if they use twitter. Even if their username isn't their real name, you should still be able to find them by searching their real name.

Snapchat - Snapchat is a photo messaging app for smart phones. Snapchat’s users consist of mainly kids and teens. Snapchat allows users to send and receive photos that disappear after a short time limit. The dangerous thing is that  once the time limit is up, the photo is hidden and hard to retrieve. 

Facebook - Facebook currently reports that just over 50% of their users are teens. If you are on Facebook, you've probably realized that the activity of younger users on this site is starting to be slow and that many teens are moving to newer social media sites. However, there is still a strong teen presence on Facebook simply off of sheer number of users alone.

As a parent, it's good to know the neighborhoods that our kids hang out in. And that truth may be even more true when it comes to social media and the online neighborhoods they create. Be informed. Be proactive. Know what's going on in the lives of your kids.

For another FANTASTIC blog on social media sites, sexting, and kids, CLICK HERE.

(And if you want a few pro-active tips for helping your kids stay safe online, CLICK HERE.)


Timber Ridge Volunteer of The Week - July 21st

This week's Timber Ridge V.O.W. is Chelsea Marlow.  Chelsea is a nursing student at TSU and has been at Timber Ridge almost since the beginning. She has used her gifts, time, and energy to serve in a variety of ways over the last 18 months, including volunteering with Timber Ridge Kids, serving at special community events, and working on our media team. Chelsea currently serves as a key member of our media team, making sure things like video, audio, and production run smoothly at our worship experiences on Sunday. Thank you Chelsea for all you do!  You ROCK!

(If you attend Timber Ridge and currently do not serve on a ministry team, get more info on how to volunteer and make a difference by clicking here.)

KidRidge Weekly Parent Take-Home: Week of July 21st

Spread the Light
KidRidge July 21, 2013

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill can’t be hidden.” - Matthew 5:14

Great Commission • Matthew 28:16-20

God is doing something in me to show the world who He is.

In this week’s Bible story, Jesus commanded His followers to go into all the world and tell about God’s love (Matthew 28:16-20). And then we saw how some of those men obeyed and God’s love spread from one town to the next (Matthew 9:35 – 11:1; Acts 1-2, 8-10; The Epistles). What a great reminder from Jesus that we should all be examples of God’s love to others. One great way to be a light and a city on a high hill is to be quick to share the great news that Jesus came to the earth, died on a cross, and rose from the dead so that we could live forever with God! What a wonderful thing God did and what great news to share! Remember, God is doing something in each of us to show the world who He is.
Remember as a parent how it felt after your first child was born? You were so elated! How did you spread the news? Person to person, no doubt! God is developing a story of His love in each of us that we can share, and soon His love can cover the whole world. We taught the KidRidge group this week that God’s light is passed from person to person starting with the people around each one of them. 

This week as a family discuss:

  • What are ways to start to share God with the people around us in our everyday lives?
  • What are ways you could someday tell other places in the world about Jesus? 
  • If you have been on a mission trip of some kind to another nation, share about this experience with your family.
  • How can we spread the Light of Jesus in the community of Stephenville?


Timber Ridge VOW

This week's Timber Ridge Volunteer of the Week is Vickie Almquist. Vickie faithfully serves on our Guest Services team as a greeter each week and has also served on our cafe team. Vickie's heart for hospitality & warm smile help people feel welcome each week as they attend Timber Ridge.

Thank you Vickie for all you do to serve and make a difference on a consistent basis!  You ROCK!

Vickie & Pastor Nic

If you attend Timber Ridge and are interested in making a difference by serving on a ministry team, you can get more info by clicking here.


Timber Ridge Kids Take Home - From Sunday, July 7th

Hey Timber Ridge Parents!  If you have a K-6th grader, here's your weekly take home from our Timber Ridge Kids team. It provides a brief summary of what your kids learned on Sunday, as well as some ways you can reinforce the lesson & engage your children in spiritual conversations at home this week!  Check it out:

This Week's Key Bible Verse:  Luke 6:31 -- Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Kindness is making someone feel valuable by the way you treat them.  When you are kind to someone, you are giving the best part of who you are.  
#1: Watch the following video together. As you watch, answer the questions together.  Use the video to start a family discussion about what it means to be kind.  Think about the things you each consider as kindness.  

Think about something you can do as a family this week to show kindness to someone.  
To go deeper, CLICK HERE and watch this videoThink about the difference being kind can make, not just in you, but in people you encounter everyday.  Talk about these questions:

  • What impact should having a relationship with God make on our words and actions towards others?
  • In "big church" this week, we used the movie Man of Steel,  to talk about how Superman is the source of hope for the world.  We know that Jesus is our source of hope.  How can being kind help spread that hope of Jesus to others?  


A Paradigm Shifter

When we read and study God's Word, there are often times when the truth within the Bible alters the lens in which we look through life.  I think Proverbs 24:16 is one of those verses.  Here's what it says:

The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. - Proverbs 24:16

Far too often, we keep score of the wrong things. We tend to count the failures, keep track of the mistakes, and keep tab of how many times we fall. But that's not what matters to God. That's not how God keeps score. It's not about how many times we fall. It's about how many times we get back up. And that's why this verse is paradigm shifting.

The Lesson: It's not how many times you stumble or fall. It's how many times you get back up that really matters.

Timber Ridge Kids Weekly Take Home

Timber Ridge Parents,
If you missed this announcement last week, one of the great new things that our Kids Team is doing is providing a "take home" family discussion for our KidRidge (K-6th Grade) kids each week.  It's a fantastic resource for parents to use to engage their kids in discussions about God, the Bible, and faith.

Here's this week's Take Home Guide from Neely & Sabrina Carter and the KidRidge Team:

Last week, we introduced our vision and our 4 expectations. Our vision is to model for and teach kids this simple lesson: God loves you and wants to have a relationship with you. Our expectations are:

1. Listen now, talk later.

2. Keep your nametag and bracelet on.

3. Put others first.

4. Make a new friend.

This week we talked about keeping your name tag and bracelet on. You might be curious as to why we think that is important. Well, think for a moment about some things that you teach your children and expect of them to help keep them safe. If you are having trouble thinking of some, click here for a video to get you started.

#1: Discuss some of your family rules and why you have them.

At KidRidge, we expect your child's nametag and bracelet to stay on so we can call them by name and so we ensure, during the checkout process, that the right person gets the right child. It's a safety issue. 

It's also a matter of setting an example for others, especially our guests. If kids see others not meeting our expectations, they'll do the same. That reminds me of a Bible Verse. 

#2: Read 1 Timothy 4:12 with your children. Or you can just watch this video:

#3: Discuss the following questions as a family:
  • What do you respond better to? Someone modeling the behavior they want you to display or just talking about it?
  • What are some ways adults sometimes fail at setting an example or modeling in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity? 
  • What are some things you as a family can do this week to model speech, life, love, faith, and purity that would please God?  

As a bonus, if you want to check out this week's KidRidge Countdown video including some of the songs we sing, check out this:

It's an honor to serve your kids & teach them about God each week!

- Neely & Sabrina Carter and The KidRidge Team