As I write this, I find it difficult to put into words the thoughts on my heart. There is a battle out in the world for the innocences of our children. The latest news of suicide tips being planted in children’s videos reminds me how real the war is. If you thought you read wrong; Yes, there are suicide tips being planted into kids YouTube videos!!!
Both my children occasionally enjoy the random YouTube videos that seem quite innocent with their favourite cartoon characters like paw patrol, Spider-Man, Lightning McQueen etc. doing random things. Now imagine, after a few minutes leaving the room, with what you think is safe content and then suddenly a character pops up on the screen telling your smallies how to slit the wrists correctly!!!!! Unimaginable!!! Until now…
With the fantasy content coming out for teens these days, it’s been hard enough to guard them. It is sad, and yet sobering, that the war on our children has come out in the open. If you haven’t seen it already, a few Facebook posts have popped up about disturbing videos appearing during an innocent YouTube video being played. It appears roughly 5 minutes into viewing with the assumption that parents would have left the room. The post that I came across, that really stirred my concern, came from a mother of a 7-year-old girl. Her daughter came across one of these videos, along with exposure to games like Fortnight, she started expressing the desire to kill herself. It even got to the point of drawing a stick figure with a noose around its neck.
Let’s be real here, as a mom of two toddlers, I enjoy the 5-minute breather that animated YouTube video’s havegiven me. Fortunately, I am 99% of the time in the room so I view what they view. I am grateful that I have not seen anything this dark but I have come across videos that just did not work well with me and my eldest knows if mommy doesn’t like something, he doesn’t watch it. The moment I read this post, I sent a screenshot to my mother in law to make her aware when they watch TV at granny’s house.
I am no perfect parent but I do understand that while my children are easily moldable at this age, I play a huge part in stewarding their growth. Let us not beat ourselves up for our failings but rather equip ourselves with knowledge to do better.
What do we do now?
I don’t know about you but sometimes I wish we could just lock our precious children up till they were an adult age to protect them from the darkness of this world. Maybe I am the only parent that thinks like that lol, but seriously times have changed quite drastically. I know of a few people who have rather chosen to have no children at all than to face the fears of what their future could hold.So we can’t lock or shut our kids off from the world, nor can we really raise them from a place of fear. Where does this leave us as parents now?
Equip yourself, equip your child
I can’t expect my children to face fears or grow any areas I haven’t yet. I learnt this very early that I lead the way for them to follow. Start small and work your way towards the outcome you wish to see. We don’t realize how much our children learn from us when we not purposefully teaching things.
At the age of 4 and 2, both of my children are actively learning how to manage and overcome their fears and especially how to communicate emotion. I am not shy to learn from other parents as well as read books etc.
A book on the market that I highly recommend is: Raising Giant Killers by Bill Johnson.
Prescreen their viewing
I am a firm believer of media influencing minds. There wouldn’t be so much money spent on the industry if it didn’t have some sort of purpose to probe your reality. It has been mentioned for many years how the enemy influences through music industry as well movies.
I myself have to monitor my series binging as well the content I take in, how much more so for the young minds under my roof. I make sure I watch something before my children do. Most times I will watch with them and communicate scenes that they are vocal about. For example; if my children speak of a bad guy or a monster in film like Incredibles or Moana, we deal with the fear immediately. We are very vocal about things always making sure that there is hope stirred and not fear fed.
Things that effect our children are so subtle. I know I might seem over the top here, but hey this is my work in progress that not everyone has to live by. I look at characters in a cartoon as well because ideally if your child is influenced by a character then you can be sure they are going to mimic them.If I don’t like what they are watching, I tell them and I explain why.
Make it count
One of the best lessons I learnt early was making the time I spend with them count. Do I get it right all the time, not always, I do my best to make up for it. Its easy to lose sight of things with a busy schedule. Be sure that the time you give your children is solely for them. Often people can be home with the children but are distracted on their phones or other house concerns.
I have come to realize that my children are quite clever. They know when I am not with them even though I am physically there. You will find that if you give your child the attention they seek in the moment, they wont easily act out for your attention later.
Lead by example
I know this is going to sound super cliché but what does it matter: Be the change you want to see!!
Maybe it is a little cheesy but the plainest truth is your children learn from you!!! How they respect and treat others, how they respect themselves, what they learn to enjoy etc. all stops with the parents. How you talk about other people. How you see God. How you treat your spouse etc. all stops with the parents.
We really cannot leave it to the world to teach our children life. That is our job. We can carry on what we learnt and if that did us no good then guess what! You can start new!!!
There would be no hope for my children if copy paste my childhood for them but bythe grace of God, Ihave a chance to shape a generation.
I know parenting can be overwhelming but encourageyourself in knowing that you are more equipped for the task than you realize. If you don’t like the way you arelooking at things then change your view. I choose to look through the eyes of hope because I have faith in the seeds God has given me and when I don’t know what to do, I ask. God is the lead example at parenting so it would be wise to seek His counsel.
I look forward to writing more on parenting experiences and hope those who read will enjoy and feel encouraged. Remember to pat yourself on the back, you aredoing a great job.