The Hidden Dangers of Modern Communication for Children

Throughout history the blessings of God have allowed people to invent amazing new technologies. One such technology is the Internet. The Internet is a powerful tool to collect and share information. Initially, it was only available through desktop computers wired to the wall, but now it is available wirelessly. From letters to phone calls to television, it all happens through the Internet now, but like any tool, it can be used for good or evil. I am continually impressed by all the new things I find people doing online that makes human life better, but the Internet also has many dangers. Mature adults can make good decisions, but children need help. What follows is an overview of the big dangers for children on the Internet.

Pornography

In the old days, it was quite hard for kids to access pornography, but that is no longer the case. On the Internet, the lure of easy money has led to countless pornographic websites online. This offensive material then sits there like a trap waiting for children to find it. Over the years, it has gotten worse, with many social networks allowing pornography under the guise of free speech. Kids will inevitably hear about pornography in school, then look it up out of curiosity. This can quickly lead to addiction.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a relatively new problem enabled by social networks on the Internet. Social networks allow users to easily create content and share it with everyone. This has allowed bullying, which used to be confined to the schoolyard, to follow a child wherever they go online. School arguments can now flood into the online world where it is easy for classmates and anonymous people to gang up on a person, writing the worst things imaginable about them. The consequences of cyberbullying can be devastating. It has led many children to suicide.

Progressiveness

Because the Internet is still a new technology, it is mostly populated by those more accepting of new things: progressives. Progressives tend to be liberal, irreligious, and pro-choice, all potentially dangerous things for Catholic children to be exposed to. Most children want to be agreeable and follow their parents beliefs, but when confronted by opposing beliefs online, peer pressure will many times lead them to lie or ignore what they have been taught just to fit in with the group.This might just be lying at first, but after hearing opposing beliefs for years, they can easily come to believe it. Children can be indoctrinated without knowing it’s even happening.

Online Predators

There have been a lot of awareness campaigns around online predators, so this is probably the most well known danger on the Internet for children. In their innocence, many children give away personal information online including their real name, address, phone number, and more. That might be fine when the people they are socializing with our fellow children, but on the Internet it is easy for people to fake their identity. That personal information could now be in the hands of a online predator. Online predators, being adults, can easily persuade children to meet in person, where they are kidnapped, abused, and possibly even murdered. It’s a tragedy that happens too often.

Radicalization

A new danger has emerged in the form of militant groups like ISIS radicalizing teenagers through the Internet. These groups have found many lonely kids online. With just a little positive attention each day, they have slowly convinced many teenagers to believe everything they say, including radical beliefs. Within a year, a teenager can go from being normal kid to making plans to join terrorists. Sadly, ISIS has found this to be a very effective tactic. Seemingly out of nowhere a kid completely transforms. The worst part is that parents usually don’t even know it’s going on.

 

These are just some of the dangers to children posed by the Internet, but I hope I have convinced you the Internet is not a safe place for children. It can even be dangerous for adults, but adults have experience and wisdom to make better decisions. Children many times will not make the best decisions for their future. They need the help of their parents, even though they don’t know it and resist.

It is absolutely critical that parents keep track of what their children do online. It might seem impossible because the Internet is so massive. How can you possibly monitor everything your children do online? The truth is you can’t monitor everything, but there are three things that will greatly aid you in this task.

Number one is educating yourself on the dangers of the Internet and then teaching it to your children. Spend a few weekends researching the topics I mentioned above and any other dangers you read about. Once you know the dangers well, spend a few days telling your children about it. Start a routine of quizzing your children on what to do when they come across one of the dangers. Eventually, your children will do some of the monitoring themselves, letting you know when something is wrong. You can’t trust kids to do everything right though. Sometimes they will deliberately do the opposite of what you want, so the remaining two things are also necessary.

Number two is to let the computers handle some of the work. For smartphones, tablets, video game consoles, and anything else that connects to the Internet, activate parental controls. Educate yourself on the various controls available and how they work. The device will probably have instructions, but more information can be found from a quick Google search. For desktop computers, you should look into an Internet filter. There are paid ones and free ones. A free one called K9 Web Protection has a good reputation, but I’m sure you can find other good ones too. Set it up to be very strict initially. You can loosen the restrictions as needed if your children request access to a website. This way you will have a chance to review the website before giving permission. With properly configured parental controls and Internet filters, your children will be protected from many dangers on the Internet.

Number three is setting some ground rules for appropriate Internet use. Even with your children monitoring themselves and parental controls, some dangers can still slip through the cracks. Implement these rules to capture any remaining dangers:

  • No computers or televisions in the children’s bedrooms – It’s too dangerous for children to use the Internet completely unattended. Keep the big screens out of the rooms to incentivise children to spend much of their time in the more visible, shared rooms during the day.
  • Children’s bedroom doors must be open during the day – Other than when children are changing clothes, parents should be able to see into the bedrooms anytime they pass by. Keeping the doors open will also let parents be able to hear what’s going on in their children’s rooms even when they are down the hall.
  • No smartphones, tablets, or handheld video games in the children’s bedrooms after bedtime – With this rule you must confiscate all these devices and keep them in your (the parents’) bedroom at night. Make sure they are all turned off. This way your children can’t secretly use the Internet in their room at night away from any supervision.

Your children will probably not be happy about all these changes because you will be limiting their freedom, but it is critical for their development as humans and faithful Catholics that you control their Internet use. Stay firm and they will get used to it eventually. Ignoring this essential parenting duty would be like letting your children hang out on the streets all night where anything could happen. It’s negligent to give children full access to the Internet. Take charge of this situation, and your children will reap the benefits for years to come.

May God bless you with his abundant grace,
Jared

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The Depth of the Commandments According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

While The Ten Commandments are popularly known as God’s rules for Christians to live by, there really is just one commandment: the commandment to love. All the others follow from just this one overarching commandment. The commandment to love can be split into two more specific commandments: love God and love one another. The commandments to love God and one another can then be expanded further into The Ten Commandments. The first through third commandments involve loving God. The fourth through tenth commandments involve loving one another.

Every single sin can be described by how it opposes one of these commandments. There are no sins that do not fit under a commandment. In some cases, it’s not clear why a sin fits under a commandment, but that’s where the Catechism of the Catholic Church fits in. It explains each commandment in detail including all the opposing sins.

Interesting is the fact that the ninth and tenth commandments are more extensions of the sixth and seventh commandments than entirely new commandments. The sixth commandment (“You shall not commit adultery.”) covers the sinful actions related to impurity while the ninth commandment (“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.”) covers the sinful thoughts related to impurity. The seventh and tenth commandments follow the same model except covering sinful actions (seventh) and thoughts (tenth) related to stealing.

I have summarized this information in the chart below. It starts at the top with the commandment to love, then to love God and one another, then to the ten commandments, and finally, the sins that oppose those commandments. I have made the ninth and tenth commandments extensions of the sixth and seventh commandments, all under Love One Another. The commandments are in circles with orange text while the sins are in rectangles with red text. In parentheses next to each sin is the reference number of the corresponding passage in the Catechism of the Catholic Church for further reading.

The commandments and their opposing sins.

Click image to view full screen.

May God bless you with his abundant grace,
Jared

God’s Will vs God’s will

It can be confusing when studying the faith because there are many words and phrases that seem to have more than one meaning. God’s will is one example. Many times I will see it used in this way:

If you do God’s Will, you will get to heaven.

Here, “God’s Will” is just a shorthand way of referring to God’s overall set of rules for us to follow. There’s the commandments and other rules from the Bible, plus all the rules from the Church’s doctrine. Those would all be God’s Will, in a sense. God truly will’s us to follow these rules. The reward is a place in heaven. To do God’s Will would then be to follow God’s laws (CCC 2825). Here is another way I see God’s will used:

It was God’s will that I got hired for the job.

In this sense, “God’s will” is used like the idea of destiny. “It was my destiny that I got the job.” This is a much more bold claim to make. Anyone can say we need to follow God’s laws, but for a person to say God personally directed something to happen in their life is a little arrogant in my eyes. It may be completely true that God did make something happen for the person, but there’s no way to know for sure. For the most part, God does not predetermine what’s going to happen in our lives. He gives people free will to make decisions (CCC 1036).

I think it is best to avoid using God’s will to refer to destiny. Better to say, “God answered my prayer, and I got the job.” Even then, however, the reality is God did not force the manager to hire the person. At most, God planted the idea in his head that this person would be a good hire. The manager still had the free will to choose who to hire (CCC 311, 1705). Prayers are not useless — they have an effect — but they will never force someone to do something.

Throughout this article, I used a capital ‘W’ to refer to the phrase meaning God’s laws and a lowercase ‘w’ to refer to the meaning about destiny. I will try to remember to use capital and lowercase letters if I write any future articles using both phrases. I like my writing to be as clear as possible though, so I doubt I will refer to destiny using “God’s will”. I will only use it as the Church does, about what God wants Catholics to be doing.

May God bless you with his abundant grace,
Jared