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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Parental Authority on the Blogs

This blog post comes with urgency and is very direct. Please do not take offense to how I chose to write this informational post. I am deeply concerned about something and it is with that deep concern and urgency that I write this. There's just no easy way to put this and it is not easy for me to write it with a soft tone.

I have received several letters via e-mail from other concerned parents and now a pastor of a church about something their girls are reading in the homeschool blogosphere. This is of great concern to me and should be to all of us. So many of us really want to see the homeschool blogosphere be safe and uplifting, but sadly there is some turmoil that is continuing. I just would like to say that as parents we should be VERY aware of what our children are reading in cyber space, even in the midst of 'conservative' homeschool blogs.

  • Parents, do you know which blogs your children are reading?
  • Have you checked the doctrine other bloggers are writing about?
  • Do you monitor your child's blogs, comment sections, and other blogs they comment on?
  • Do you regularly read their emails?

I have several concerned parents reaching out to me for answers about a doctrine that is being taught to YOUR girls in the homeschool blogosphere. Ultimately you are responsible for what you allow your daughters(and sons) to read, link to, etc.

You might think it's harmless to communicate with everyone in the homeschool blog community, no matter what they believe in, but your girls may very well be among those who have been getting into a teaching you may not agree with. It is YOUR responsibility to monitor what they are learning in cyber space.

Something that many of us are noticing lately is a swift shift into a realm of cultisms. Dominance teaching and cult followings are at an all time high right now and if you're not careful you or your child could become victim to it. Keep in mind most cults are Bible based, so just because someone says they believe in Jesus and use scripture on their blogs doesn't mean it's automatically safe and free from error.

We all make mistakes in our articles and that's why I recommend open comment sections for discussion. My blogs welcome opinions of others, when done respectfully, and we should be cautious of blogs that block differing beliefs in such a strict manner that it leaves the author in a position of appearing right because 'no one opposes them'. It just may be that those kind of authors are not allowing the comments to pass through.

Parents we really do need to be careful, even in the 'conservative homeschool blogosphere'.  You need to make your presence known on your child's blog.

~Comment in the comment section of your child's blog.
~Find out where she/he is commenting and join the same conversations your child is involved with.
~Post as a guest contributor on your child's blog from time to time.
~Add a disclaimer to the bottom signature line of your child's email account that states you monitor their emails.

If your child becomes a victim in a social drama circle, take a stand! You have EVERY right to contact the other parent about the situation occurring in the blogosphere. If you aren't able to get a result to bring peace in a matter, post your stand on your blog and your child's blog. There is absolutely nothing wrong with creating a post that says what you believe in and what you don't believe in. I don't think there's a need for outright naming a person or linking to them in an accusatory post. That just brings more drama. But you can make it known where you stand.

The drama is not limited to blogs. It is also spreading to Twitter and Facebook. I plead with you parents, KNOW what your teens are reading and participating in among these social network sites. Be very sure of what your teen links to in her very own side bar. Double check the beliefs and integrity of those listed in blog rolls and those who own those blog rolls.

Get connected to everyone your teen is connected to on all these sites.
If you have Twitter, add everyone on their Twitter 'following' and 'follower' list. If ANY of those following or followers do not allow YOU, the parent, access to their tweets yet they allow your child, remove your child from following that person and block that person from following your child. If they do allow you access to their twitter page, read through several pages of their tweets. Be sure you know what information they are passing along to your children.

If your teen is on Facebook, do the same. Connect to everyone she is connected to. Anyone who does not allow you access when they have allowed your child access, should be off limits. When they do this it allows them to pass information to your child without you knowing. Make your presence known on their Facebook page. Comment alongside them wherever they are and leave comments on your child's wall. You have the authority and right to make your presence known and to keep your child accountable.

Become very familiar with the settings of all social network sites and utilize the privacy settings. You can even set up your child's blog to send YOU notifications when a comment has been made and you can moderate the comments so you have the ability to approve or reject any comment that is not respectful.

Just as with any youth group your child might be involved with, you are the parent and you have every right and every bit of authority to take a stand for your child. We must do so.

  • How do you know if your child is following a cult-like blog? 
  • Have you noticed a difference in your child lately that is out of the ordinary? 
  • Does your child adamantly believe that they are not making God happy if they don't adhere to outward appearances? 
  • Is your child trying to make you believe something your family has never believed before? 
  • Is your child becoming judgmental of other people with disdain for them because of their sin? 
  • Is your child isolating themselves from you and your loved ones because they think they need to in order to be right with God? 
  • Have they begun reading other websites and information from books that are out of the ordinary for your family?

Some of these questions could show growth in a good way, but sometimes could be the opposite. Bible based cults seem good on the outside, but you need to really look deep to find out what they are teaching.

For more information about cults and how to identify them read The Culture of Cults and Cult-Like Behavior at GGMagazine. These signs show through blogs as well as churches. Be aware.

The HomeSpun Life

5 kind words:

christinnjon October 13, 2009 at 9:56 AM  

This is excellent and I couldn't agree more. My eldest is only 7 and doesn't even surf the net AT ALL. I just allowed her to open a blog UNDER STRICT SUPERVISION for homeschooling purposes. I'm kind of waiting on a meme to begin so that WE (together) can use it once a week.

But I wholly agree that it is imperative parents know what their children are reading/surfing. In fact, I would probably only allow certain websites to be viewed. No internet surfing allowed. But that is way in the future. I don't have children old enough or mature enough to even be on the internet surfing. (I don't even allow games on the internet. Only CD-R's)

Great idea posting on this and I think you did it very compassionately and from a concerned perspective. :)

Sallie October 13, 2009 at 11:14 AM  

We have access to all of our childrens accounts and do random checks. They have always known that is the rule and actually think their friends are weird for not having parents that do the same.

Sisterlisa October 13, 2009 at 11:22 AM  

Oddly enough many of us have been or currently are connected to the very blogs these people have been writing to me about. Double check who you're following on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. Make sure you know what and who you are connected to. Double check what they believe and what they are teaching.

Dana October 13, 2009 at 1:21 PM  

I have 5 teenagers with email & FB. They don't blog or are on Twitter. I am friends with all of their friends & can do random checks of their email accts & FB accts. We have to have their passwords or they don't get on. We try to talk to them often about their online relationships or comment on things we have seen on there. But, I still don't assume that all is o'k. We just try to remain on guard.

Anonymous,  December 2, 2010 at 3:16 AM  

Sounds good, I like to read your blog, just added to my favorites ;)

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