Navigating Kids Through the Text Generation

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Today's media specialists are not just the librarian-turned-Internet-surfer at your child's school. It's parents.

The job requirement? Monitor and mentor your child through often heavy use of cell phone, Internet, and other technological gadgetry.

Cell phones. They're just the tip of the new media iceberg you may fear is headed your way. One Harris poll says more than half of all teens say their cell phone is key to their social life. And, they're good. Forty-two percent say they could text blind-folded!

Click play to watch the Heritage Foundation's Rebecca Hagelin gives faith-oriented parents 30 doable steps to strengthen their relationship with their children and help them navigate the culture as seen on The 700 Club Tuesday, following this report.

"The technology moves so fast and advances so rapidly and kids are unfazed, they're unimpressed," Dr. Michael Osit, author of Generation Text, told CBN News. "They just adapt to that technology and the power of that and the parents are left in the dust."

Besides cell phones, parents must oversee Internet use, video games, music and TV.

Bottomline: For most, it's an overwhelming amount of content to help children navigate. When they go on-line, kids are always just a click away from danger. A recent Kaiser study found seven out of 10 kids accidentally view porn on the Internet.

So, what can parents do?

Ironically, much of the help to protect against dangerous new media can be found on the new media. For instance, Focus on the Family and Web-wise kids both have reliable, inexpensive filters you can download in minutes onto your computer.

Other options -- you and your child can click onto Cyberbully for tips on online harrassment.

When it comes to TV, ControlYourTV.org shows you how to block entire channels or just specific programs using your TV and cable equipment.

If you're wondering about movies, video games, or music for your kids -Plugged In Online, offered by Focus on the Family, offers reviews from a Christian perspective.

And when it comes to cell phones, there's WebWiseKids - a new interactive cell phone game teaches safety to a prime target: middle school age kids.

Along those lines, the Heritage Foundation's Rebecca Hagelin notes that today's kids are the most-marketed-to generation in history. They spend an estimated $200 billion a year of their own money, she says, making them a highly attractive target.

Hagelin challenges parents to create quiet time with their kids, away from distractions to get to know them.

And she she challenges them to fight the culture with a number of practical steps, first to buy a reliable Internet filter.

*Original broadcast April 14, 2009.

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

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