The Truth About the Internet {From a Teen's Perspective}

My first kid graduated from our homeschool this past Spring and is now at "home" in a college seminary 10 hours away. Before he left, I was curious... 

Well? How did it go? I mean... how did we do, son? Did your Dad and I completely miss the mark on anything? Or... at least did we not completely miss the mark on all things?"

That was my version of an exit interview and I peppered him with detailed questions. After all, there are 7 other kids after him. If I screwed up badly with him, I want to know so that I can fix it. I know that an 18-year old won't have all those answers but there were some questions that I knew he'd be able to help with. 

Up first? THE INTERNET. Tell me what you know, boy, and make it snappy. I have lots of little souls to love and technology is a beast. These were the conditions for answering:

  • There would be no negative repercussions for fully honest answers.
  • Your audience is mostly adult Christian men, women, and clergy.

So... here is my brief interview with my (then) 18-year old graduating homeschool high school senior:


I did not fully understand the dangers of the internet when I was young, probably because I didn't grow up in a time with wifi or tablets or smartphones. Therefore, when I did become exposed to new technology, it took me longer to learn their true capabilities. Unfortunately, kids growing up post-2010 (after the invasion of the iPad) do not have the same lack of familiarity with tech; my 3-year old sister has basic knowledge of tablets that surpasses that of my grandmother.


Of course, this question can only answered in retrospect. Hindsight is 20/20! Yet, I would say:

  • Failing to monitor bedtime/nighttime internet usage, and
  • Providing inadequate control on devices due to lack of technical knowledge


Speaking as a teen, unless mom or dad works as a computer professional, the kids almost always know more about the hidden settings and capabilities of an iPad or phone than the parents. It's easy to convince mom that she's secured the device or that the internet is effectively blocked or that Bobby's new app is benign. Parents: never assume you know more than your child. Believe me. 


Simply put, the abundance of portals that exist make it difficult to monitor. As a parent, you likely have thousands of details in your brain, so much minutiae to keep track of, that one little electronic device often goes unnoticed. If a thing doesn't exist to the mind, it's dreadfully easy to hide. If you're trying to internet-proof your home, make a literal list of every internet capable device in the house and be able to account for their whereabouts at all times (and the whereabouts of the charger -- almost more important!!).

Aren’t sure if a device is childproof or even internet-capable? Find out. Educate yourself. Technology isn’t that hard to understand if you want to.

P.S. In addition, portals can be found outside the home in the form of friends. This is one area that my parents have not made many mistakes with me. The solution is, truly, to curate your child’s friends list. Sound harsh? I’m a survivor; trust me, your kid will live: they might even thrive. But this is a topic for someone else to write about.


This questions sort of flows with the next... so I’ll try to combine the answers.


As a parent, I would probably allow any children above these ages to own a piece of technology, with two caveats:

  1. The device in question did not have cellular connectivity (e.g. no smartphones or 3G/4G/5G enabled tablets)

  2. The device was prepared in advance by me, with all necessary parental controls enabled

There were more questions but the kid had stuff to do and I let him off the hook. What he said was sufficient. I know very well how I screwed up with technology and I'm constantly trying to manage it in the home. Open the door... slam the door... open the door... stick a toe out... get it stepped on... pull back. I can't tell you how much I detest the internet and it's prominent place in my life and in culture. 

But it is what it is, as they say. And it takes some maturity, savvy, and a whole lot of humility to manage it. I appreciate my son's honesty and his ongoing support when I text him at odd hours with tech questions.

To round off this post, I just want to post an honest warning to all parents (originally posted on my FB page)...

A reminder for all parents whose kids have access to the internet in any way...

Even kids who don't go seeking porn online will likely eventually run into it. It is harmful to all people but especially to children. Your filters may or may not work. These are some ways in which porn can reach your kids even if you have filters:

1. Email links or content. Children are much more likely to fall prey to commands telling them to "click here" than an adult who recognizes spam. Images may also be in the email content itself.

2. YouTube. Porn can and does pop up even among innocent videos. The Youtube screening process is insufficient and porn pushers are crafty and aggressive. They want your kids hooked. Today.

3. Pop-up ads. Scenario: Kid tries to click the little X to close a random advertising pop-up while playing innocent video games and is taken to a graphic porn site.

4. Amazon Prime videos.

5. Amazon ebooks. Some erotic reading material is available for free on Amazon. While it may not be considered porn in a strict sense, it is horrible in its own way.

6. Netflix.

7. iTunes.

8. Google. It takes two seconds to access anything you want including photos, video, and erotic novels.

9. Facebook. The filters aren't fast enough on social media sites and hackers happen. Many of us know that firsthand.

10. Instagram. 

11. Twitter.

12. Pinterest.

13. Innocent looking apps.

I don't want to be discouraging, only alert those of you who may have a false sense of security. The internet is a dangerous place for minds and souls, young and old. Be vigilant. Don't be afraid to talk to your children about the proper context for and beauty of sexuality. And be ready to extend the hand of mercy, support, and healing.

St. Michael, pray for us.

Posted on October 19, 2016 and filed under Culture, Family Life, parenting.

All Saints' Day Prep and links

I was smack in the middle of first trimester sickness during All Saint's prep and festivities last year so I never posted pics here. Better late than never! Since I had accidentally thrown out or given away (we don't know which) 15 years of handmade costumes the year before, 2015 was my year to energetically begin again. But... pregnancy happens! All things considered, I thought we did pretty well. 

I don't know what we're doing for costumes this year yet but I see an active sewing machine in my future. Thanks be to God for great feast days, all nighters, and family memories!

Also, I've included a few links (at the bottom of this post) to previous articles on All Saints', All Souls', Hallow'een, and how our Catholic family approaches that collision of the secular and sacred. 

Okay, so... Our slightly belated 2015 crew of saints...

From left to right...

St. Olaf: Store bought viking costume because I was desperate. He paid half.

St. Bathilde: Ebay find. $15

St. Lucy: Ebay white dress with sewn in sash. Handmade felt crown. I will hopefully have a crown tutorial on the blog soon.

St. Philomena: Hand-me-down dress. Crown from this sweet kit she got for her birthday. Anchor courtesy of duct tape and a shipment of large styrofoam sheets which I did not order but which Amazon said I could keep.

St. Maria Goretti: Goodwill linen dress and eyelet petticoat. Hand-me-down shawl. Wood dagger made by brother.

St. Michael: Store bought king costume purchased in a previous year. Wings (yes, they are black... that's all that's left on the shelves on October 30th) from a local Walmart.

St. Thomas Aquinas: Sewn the previous year by me. Pics of full costume with cape at the link and in the thumbnails below. 

Click on pics to enlarge...

We also had an All Saints' Day party of which I have zero pictures except one of our treat bags. Thanks to Jessica at Shower of Roses for the tag inspiration! 

More posts from this blog about All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day, and Hallow'een below...

Posted on October 11, 2016 and filed under All Saints' Day, Family Life, Liturgical Year.

Little Drops of Water {Touchables for Catholic Kids}


One of the greatest pleasures of blogging is the opportunity to review beautiful Catholic products and to share them with you. I turn down most review opportunities but occasionally happily accept when the product is consistent with my blog purpose, blesses my family, and supports business that contribute to healthy culture. Little Drops of Water is a Catholic line that meets all the criteria. I am pleased to introduce them to you.

In 2014, a young lady named Anna founded Little Drops of Water in order to promote the faith and pass it on to all children. Her little brother was her inspiration and her father, her support. They took her dream and drawings and launched the new company.

I was fortunate enough to receive some of their items for review and, of course, my children whisked off the box as soon as it came...


I am particular about the religious art that my children are exposed to. I do not love the cartoon books that feature Jesus with googly eyes or caricatures of saints that border on the ridiculous. Children are attracted to beauty and do not need it dumbed down to appreciate it. Exposing kids to the beauty of the externals of our faith is one of the best tools of catechesis that we have.  Because of this, I was uncertain about these products at first because they did seem childish. But...

The conclusion that I came to is that there is that while these are simple and toylike, they are not ridiculous. They communicate the faith sweetly without distortion. And best of all... they are made to be played with. If you've ever been to my house, you will notice that it is a little lacking in the decor department. That's because we have 8 kids. If it can be broken, it probably will be; and when it breaks, we rarely replace it. So... I'm a big fan of "touchables."


We received the statues, magnets (St. Therese pictured above), charms, and pens. Not all items are intended for all ages, but common sense purchasing will please a number of ages in a family. For example, a two year old can certainly play with the resin statues and simple magnets, but I wouldn't recommend the tiny charms for anyone who still puts things in their mouths. 


Pairing items of saints would make a sweet name day or sacramental gift. Also... St. Nicholas Day shoe stuffers and Christmas stockings. They are small enough to fit and perfect for maintaining the purpose of the season. 


The pens light up, have glitter water, floating angels, and a cute angel dangle... all of which are impressive. But not nearly as impressive as my toddler's line scribbles. I mean, really... genius. 


The magnet selection includes 3 dimensional figures and flat images (pictured below). Ours are currently lined up in formation on our fridge and need to be rearranged by the resident magnet artist about once every few hours. 


I love the little saint charms. This little St. Christopher is heading out to my college aged son who is not named Christopher but who is doing quite a bit of traveling. Our other charms have found their way onto coat and bag zippers, pencil cases, and hair bands. 


St. Patrick is adorable. I may or may not have played with him after the kids went to bed. And then I definitely put St. Nicholas and Mother Teresa of Calcutta on my Christmas shopping list. 


You'll definitely want to check out the Little Drops of Water website and product selection for yourself and check them out on Facebook and Instagram! And stay tuned for a giveaway of their sweet products. As soon as I hit 1000 followers on Facebook, I'm going to send a box of all kinds of good stuff to one treasured reader.

Posted on September 25, 2016 and filed under Gifts, review.