In a recent conversation with another parent, I realized I’m quickly becoming fearful of the web. I make a fair bit of my living from the Internet, and I’ve always been its biggest supporter, but my Spider Sense is tingling… and it flares up whenever my kids are near a PC, Smart Phone, or Tablet. I don’t worry when I’m with them, but when they’re away from my guidance or gaze, I’m scared for what they may see.

And I can’t protect them from it. It’s IMPOSSIBLE.

That’s a crushing realization once you have it. I do NOT have 100% control over what they will stumble upon online. Why? Because the kid next to them on the bus, has a smart phone with unlimited data and a parent who never even considered what Google image can search for… or doesn’t care. Because the Mom of the little girl next to my daughter thinks there’s nothing wrong with the watching the Kardashians or the new Beyonce video in front of her kid, so she streams them on the ride to school. Because my kid might want to search for that word the 5th grader said to find out what it means, instead of asking and adult who can phrase it properly for someone his age (without the assistance of diagrams and links to hard-core video footage).

Seriously, I’m scared for them. And I’m not a prude. I talk openly about most (if not any when asked) subjects with my kids. The key however, is knowing how to break it down for their level. When my son told me “a kid said the S word on the bus”, I said, “what S word?” He answered, “Shut Up”. “That’s not the S word, son. This is the S word: __________” Now don’t say it. When my daughter asked how babies are made, there was no stork or magic mentioned, but I also didn’t grab the laptop, bring up Urban Dictionary or Wikipedia and say, “Let’s dive in, shall we?”

Some of you may think I’m acting like a puritanical control freak. You’re welcome to that opinion. Have you surveyed the current landscape, though? Have you listened to what kids do with their phones? Have you seen a kid over 15 without their face in one? Do you know what Snapchat is?

Scared. I’ll admit it. I don’t want absolute control over my child’s life. I want them to blossom into their own person. But I want that person to find out about certain things once their brain is able to handle it, and I know that’s not going to happen. Home-school? Sure, you’ll limit the opportunities. Family outings or supervised play dates? Yep. You’ve lessened the chances. That one sleepover, though. That one carpool ride with a parent that’s too busy to watch every moment. The back of the Church youth group van (trust me). You can’t protect them. I CAN’T PROTECT THEM. That’s a punch in the gut for a dad.

I recently watched ‘Stand By Me’, one of my all time favorite movies. I started off thinking, “Man. I wish CJ had such close friendships, as these.” Then I listened to the movie as parent. It’s a different ball game, friends. This parent thing changes you inside… or it SHOULD. I also realized I had no internet when I was younger, and I found PLENTY of offensive-not-age-appropriate material to read. But I had to WORK for it. It was a full time job. I was Encyclopedia Brown rolled up with Indiana Jones, digging in the dirt for, well, filth. Now it’s already in your kid’s pocket. If not their’s, then it’s 3 feet away. ALL. DAY. LONG.

I guess I am a prude after all.