IM Safely?

I think we would all agree one of the most dangerous and important aspects of online life is the instant messenger. It is where many kids get into trouble and should be on the radar of every parent and children’s workers. It is through the instant messages and social network that many kids or preyed upon by online predators. The 10 commandments of online safety apply to instant messaging as well so be sure to check out that post.

I have many parents ask me what they can do to monitor their kids IM and social networking activities. So i began my search and I found an amazing program called IMSafer. It is fantastic.

Here is what I love about IMSafer.

  • You don’t monitor everything your kids say, so they maintain their privacy.
  • You are however, notified if there are certain keywords that come up like your address, you phone number, foul language etc.
  • It is free for one screen name (unlimited monitoring and Social monitoring are extra)
  • You can monitor MySpace (priceless)
  • You can install it on a Mac and Those other computers
  • As soon as your kids have said something questionable or had something questionable said to them you are emailed.

Here is a quote from their site.

“The parent can view the questionable portion of the IM conversation and explanations as to why the conversation was flagged as potentially dangerous. Furthermore, IMSafer will help parents by explaining slang and IM acronyms that may be related to the questionable portion of the conversation.

IMSafer works hard to honor the privacy of the child by not allowing parents to read full chat transcripts. Spying on children is known to drive their activities underground. Working together is the best way to ensure that your child is protected.”

Stats (We all love stats don’t we)

• “87% of U.S. teens ages 12 to 17 currently use the Internet, representing about 21 million youth. Of those, approximately 11 million teens go online on a daily basis.” (Pew Internet and American Life, “Teens and Technology,” July 27, 2005.)

• “The size of the wired teen population surges at the seventh grade mark. While about 60% of sixth graders use the Internet, by seventh grade the number jumps to 82%.” (Pew Internet and American Life, “Teens and Technology,” July 27, 2005.)

• 47% of children have received e-mails with links to pornographic websites. (Symantec market research report, June 9, 2003)

• Over half (51%) of parents either do not have, or do not know if they have, software on their computers to monitor where their teenagers go online and with whom they interact. (Cox Communications and The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, “Parents’ Internet Monitoring Study,” February 2005).

• 57% or more of parents were unable to correctly decipher the meanings of several common instant messaging abbreviations. (Cox Communications and The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, “Parents’ Internet  Monitoring Study,” February 2005).

 • In late 2004, teachers at Montevideo Middle School in Virginia, surveyed 178 sixth grade students at their school. The resulting data was alarming: 1 in 4 had become friends with a stranger online and 1 in 10 had attempted to meet an online friend face to face. (Montevideo Middle School, “Sixth Grade Computer Survey,” December 9, 2004)

 • Some 57% of parents worry that strangers will contact their children online. These worries are well grounded. Close to 60% of teens have received an instant message or email from a stranger and 50% report emailing or instant messaging with someone they have not met before. Despite this, teens themselves are not particularly worried about strangers online; 52% of online teens say they do not worry at all about being contacted online and only 23% express any notable level of concern. (Pew Internet & American Life, “Teenage Life Online,” June 20, 2001)

• 30% of teenage girls polled by the Girl Scout Research Institute said they had been sexually harassed in a chat room. Only 7 %, however, told their mothers or fathers about the harassment, as they were worried that their parents would ban them from going online. (Girl Scout Research Institute 2002)

• 86 % of the girls polled said they could chat online without their parents’ knowledge, 57% could read their parents e-mail, and 54% could conduct a cyber relationship. (Girl Scout Research Institute 2002)

• 81% of parents and 79% of teens state that teenagers aren’t careful enough when giving out information about themselves online. 65% of parents and 64% of teens say that teenagers do things online that they wouldn’t want their parents to know about. (Pew Internet and American Life, “Protecting Teens Online,” March 17, 2005.)

• 27% of teens said that they have known a friend to actually meet someone whom they only knew online (Teen Research Unlimited, “Topline Findings from Omnibuss Research,” October 2005.)

• Online teens admit that they frequently communicate with people they have never met: 54% have Instant Messaged a stranger, 50% have emailed a stranger, and 45% have participated in a chat room discussion with a stranger (Teen Research Unlimited, “Topline Findings from Omnibuss Research,” October 2005.)

• 28% of teens said they use code words on a daily basis to hide their online conversations from their parents – example: “PIR” means “parent in room” (Teen Research Unlimited, “Topline Findings from Omnibuss Research,” October 2005.)


The 10 Commandments of online safety

The 10 Commandments of online safety for kids.

  1. Thou shalt put the computer in a very public place
  2. Remember thy password and keep it holy
  3. Know thy children’s friends, buddies
  4. Remember thy monitoring software and keep it active
  5. Thou Shalt not allow thy children to post any graven images (photos) whithout thy permission
  6. Thou shalt not allow any contact information to ever be given out
  7. Thou shalt forbid any meeting in person with online buddies
  8. Remember to check thy childs history
  9. Though shalt create a seperate login for each child (on a mac, on those other computers)
  10. Thou shalt not close your eyes and hope for the best


Safety rules for kids
Great monitoring software that works for macs and those other computers
Guidlines for parents
USA Today article
June is internet safety month

The CP 411 on TXT

(Translation of the title "Information that every children’s pastor needs about texting")

Why should a children’s pastor know about and how to use texting.

Benefits –

  1. Harness culture – You are speaking the kids language – They all do it.
  2. You can send out info about a function that works much better than a flier.
  3. You can actually get a hold of teen and college age children’s workers
  4. You can use it to market your ministry in schools
  5. It is great for communicating with your staff within a building during service. (With your phone set to vibrate of course)

Drawbacks –

  1. Short messages can replace "actual conversation"
  2. How someone feels can be lost, and misunderstandings can take place
  3. It could become a distraction in you services
  4. Young kids may not be able to set and stand by their electric boundaries

Bottom line with Texting is with anything, a pastor friend of mine says:
"What God blesses as a supplement he will curse as a substitute"

Stats –

Among 18-24 year old Americans:

  • 94% send and receive text messages with their cell phones 
  • 66% send text messages while driving

Clearly, texting is an effective way to reach and communicate with the college demographic.

Taken from

  • Cultural factors also play a role in text messaging’s surge. Teenagers have made it a routine way to communicate. About 63% of Americans from ages 18 to 27 text message, according to a Pew Internet & American Life Project survey out in March. Those teens are bringing texting to their parents – or are moving into the workforce and texting with older colleagues. Now 31% of cell phone owners ages 28 to 39 use text, and 18% of those 40 to 49 do, Pew reports.
  • June 2005: About 5 billion text messages are sent a month in the USA, up from 2.8 billion a year ago, according to the wireless trade association CTIA.

 Taken from

* 50% of 10-18 yr olds have their own phone
* verizon & cingular have largest share of this demographic
* sprint/nextel has smaller share, but high brand awareness
* 75% of surveyed kids say their bill is paid by parents
* parents generally chose plan, kids chose phone
* Yankee group study from 7/05 found that 50% of teens 13-17 would spend add money on ringtones, music
* 53% of kids have downloaded games

Taken from mKids survey


 SMS Everywhere –
With this little online program you can send one message to multiple phone numbers and recieve replies, invaluable.

Text Abbreviations –
Invaluable for all of us over the age of 25! LOL (for everyone over 25 LOL= Laugh out loud). We are learning already.

SMS Wiki –
Lots of info here on how it started and what it is.

Children and Technology

Children and Technology

This week I want to talk about Technology and kids. We are living in a more increasingly digital age. It is something that we can’t ignore or tell our kids to burry thier heads in the digital sand. We need to help guide them and do our best to help inform parents.

I would like to discuss the following areas:

  1. Text messaging
  2. General Online Safety
  3. Instant Messaging

If Children Really Mattered Part 2

“What if all the children in the church were provided with personal champions or sponsors, adults who committed to remembering their birthdays, taking them out for ice cream after every performance no matter how minor, inviting them to special outings together, and praying daily for their growth in the faith? Can you imagine the impact of a man saying to a 10-year-old boy, I’m going to a college basketball game next month. Want to come with me? Want to bring along two of your best friends? Or something like, I don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, but I’m a mechanic. Would you like to come to my garage for a day and see what I do? I’ve got stuff you can help me with. In this day of so many single parent households, the influence of a godly adult on a young boy or girl could be dynamic. How many churches would step up to organize such a contact?”

The rest of the article can be found at the following link: “Do children really matter?

“This is one of those powerful ideas that secular organizations like Big Brother Big Sister seem to get more than the church does. This is a potentially powerfull idea. Where the church community joins with the children’s ministry and does all they can to support the family unit. This is very convicting stuff for me as a children’s pastor. We are limited somewhat in what we can do for a kid and his family in one hour. But if we used that hour as a spring board for other ministy during the week, there is much opportunity to encourage the child and strengthen the parents. I know as a parent there is nothing like someone who loves your kids. It has a profound impact on both the parent and the child. What do you guys think of this. How could or should something like this work in a church. Sould it be a program or and organic grass roots movment?