Dear Parents, Grandparents, and Guardians: Be Careful
October 1, 2020
Kids and Teens Face Dangers and Pitfalls Every Day
We face many dangers, strongholds, and pitfalls in our lives every day. The Bible warns us in 1 Peter 5:8 to “be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” But as much temptation and danger as we face, our kids and our teens may face even more. Not everything is good for your children.
Because we care about your kids and your teens, we at the R.O.C.K. Club in Radford, VA, want to talk to you about being aware of the potential dangers in their lives. This will definitely not be a comprehensive list, but it can give you some ideas of where to look and what to look for.
Beware Social Media and Gaming Dangers
Social media is a ubiquitous, powerful force in today’s society. Everyone everywhere seems to have a profile on some sort of platform, even pre-teen kids. There are some great benefits to using social media: catching up with old friends, sharing great news, enjoying some laughs, even checking up on people and sharing prayer requests.
However, as helpful and enjoyable as social media can be, there are many inherent pitfalls, too. Some of these pitfalls can even initially present themselves as “harmless,” and parents, grandparents, or guardians may not understand the depths of the danger to their kids and teens.
First off, beware the danger of online predators. Not everyone is nice and has the best of intentions at heart. Kids, however, are naturally very trusting. Online predators like to prey on that. They can lure kids and teens into bad situations through social media – little-by-little, step-by-step – by pretending to be someone they are not, or by exploiting their natural trust or even their desire for acceptance. As adults, we really want to think the best about people, too, but we also understand that there are always those with evil purposes in mind. Kids don’t think this way.
Also, beware the danger of online bullies. Bullies have been around since the beginning of the world. We’ve all had to deal with bullies in our lives, but their way of operating has changed in recent years with advances in technology. Online bullies can reach kids and teens at any time of the day or night – through a comment, through a post on someone’s page, through a tweet, or through a photo. Some teens look for acceptance and affirmation on social media platforms, hoping to get that from their peers. “Am I cool?” “Am I pretty?” “Am I handsome?” Bullies can latch on to these situations, and provoke kids and teens with scathing, awful comments. This can cause sorrow, depression, and even spur them to rash, regrettable decisions. This is also a danger on gaming platforms, too, where the feeling of anonymity sometimes gives gamers license to treat people terribly, even people they don’t know.
The flip side of the coin is true, too. Teach your kids and teens to always be kind and loving to others, and not to be bullies themselves. They may feel they can easily “get back” at someone through social media, but the Bible says in Romans 12:21, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Abstain From All Appearance of Evil
Of course, there are many other dangers to kids and teens outside of social media and gaming, issues that can crop up at school, at their friends’ homes, or even within your own house. Space does not allow us to cover every pitfall that your kid or your teen may face in their day-to-day lives, but we can make a few general statements that may help you.
The Bible gives us an amazing governing principle in the first part of Psalm 101:3: “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.” This is important for all of us to remember, but especially so for kids and teens in their formative years. Make sure you know what your children are watching on television and in movies. Learn about what they are listening to on music streaming apps. Understand what they view on video-sharing sites. Even if the subject of those videos seems innocent enough, such as tips to better play their favorite game, the language and discussion topics may stray far into matters they don’t need to hear about.
Be sure, as well, to prepare your kids and your teens for situations where you will not be present, when they may face peer pressure to do something they shouldn’t. Teach them to just say “no” to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and vaping. Warn them about the dangers of seemingly “harmless” games like Ouija boards. But how can you prepare them against countless legions of pitfalls? That seems impossible and overwhelming. Simply, just remember two things. First, even though you may not be with them at all times, God is. Pray for them. Second, consistently teach them what is right. This will help them identify what is wrong.
And even if you yourself are not sure, remember what the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:22, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
Be Present, and Involve Yourself
So in the face of so many dangers to your kids and teens, what can you do as a parent, grandparent, or guardian? What’s the answer to the problem? Here’s a few suggestions:
Most importantly, build a foundation on Jesus Christ – in their lives and in your home. Teach your kids and teens about the Bible. Make sure they are consistently in church. Lovingly help them develop their own relationship with Jesus. Pray for them daily, even many times a day. God cares for your kid or your teen even more than you do, and as He becomes an important part of their lives, He will guide them.
This generation of kids and teens needs mothers and fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers, and guardians who will be proactive in their lives. Be fully present. Know what they are into. Know who their friends are. Spend quality time with them. Make sure they have their “desire for acceptance” fulfilled at home. Tell them you love them every day, many times a day, and make sure to show them that you love them, too. Root that love in Jesus Christ as a family.
Protect them. This is your job. This doesn’t mean you wrap them in bubble wrap and lock them in their rooms. Unfortunately, kids and teens will hear things you don’t want them to hear, see things you don’t want them to see, and experience things you don’t want them to experience. But do your best to prepare them for those times, and involve yourself in every aspect of their lives. They may not want that, but involve yourself anyway. It is more important to guard and protect them than to let them do whatever they want and be the “cool parent.”
Research available parental guards for social media platforms and gaming platforms.
If they have already fallen victim to online bullies or predators on social media, contact the proper authorities. Make sure they have an outlet to discuss their feelings and emotions about the situation. Our initial thought as parents or guardians may be that we are enough for them, but don’t let your pride hurt your kid or teen. You may have to involve someone else, such a trusted pastor or a licensed counselor or therapist.
Genuinely talk to your kid or teen, not constantly at them.
And teach them the right way. Remember what the Bible says in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
For more information on being more involved and proactive with your kids’ and teens’ interests and activities, call the R.O.C.K. Club at (540) 267-3000.