“How can I keep my daughter — 9 years old — away from the dangers of the internet?”
That was the question one concerned mother put to entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk at a recent event. Vaynerchuk is best known for his motivational advice, so on first pass it seems a strange question to ask him. But it’s a question that’s on many parents’ minds, including Gary’s.
“Only two things,” he replied. “No. 1: you actually don't let her spend time on it, which as you know is very hard because everybody in her world will be on it.
“No. 2 – this is the most important. I have a 13-year-old daughter, and I think about this a lot. This is my number one thing that I'm most passionate about, period, in the world.
“The [most important] way to protect the child is to build their self esteem. When a child is not insecure, they don't succumb to danger. Make sure she's confident about who she is [and] isn't overly reliant on how she looks. Build her actual self esteem. Because you're not going to be able to watch her every minute. If you make her confident in who she is, that she's amazing the way she is, she will not succumb to other people.”
How Love And Support Saved A Daughter From Trans-Ideology
While the internet hosts many dangers nowadays, perhaps the most insidious is the threat posed by trans ideology. Parents whose children have attempted to transition are already speaking out about the role the internet played in persuading their child that they were trans.
Take Charlie Jacobs' story (not her real name). In a 2021 article for the Daily Signal, Jacobs wrote that her daughter was "an ultrafeminine girl since birth. She insisted that her room be painted pink, and she refused to wear anything but dresses until third grade."
All that change when her daughter hit puberty and went through a program at school that introduced her to gender ideology.
"She started making gross TikTok videos, her language became vulgar, and she redecorated her room to look like a cave," Jacobs wrote. "She self-pierced her nose with one of those bull rings. She broke every family rule. She was morphing into an emo-Goth-vampirelike creature. She was unrecognizable. Her personality descended into anger and rudeness.
"The summer before ninth grade, she announced that she was transgender. Post-announcement, she began to threaten suicide. She sunk into deep depression. I managed to get all of her passwords to all of her social media accounts. What I saw was jaw-dropping."
Among the content Jacobs found on her daughter's social accounts was advice on how to sell nude photos online, porn involving incest and pedophilia, tips on how to pass as the opposite sex, and more.
Jacobs' came to the exact same conclusion as Vaynerchuk, shutting off her daughter's access to the internet while meeting her behavior with love and affirmation of her true self.
"I went nuclear," Jacobs wrote. "I took the phone and stripped it of all social media — YouTube, Instagram, Discord, Reddit, Pinterest, Twitter. I even blocked her ability to get to the internet. I deleted all of her contacts and changed her phone number. I sat next to her while she “attended” school online via Zoom. I deleted YouTube from the smart TVs and locked up the remotes."
But most importantly, Jacobs worked hard to restore the close relationship she had once enjoyed with her daughter, meeting her daughter's anger with patience and love.
"After a year and half of utter hell, my daughter is finally returning to her authentic self—a beautiful, artsy, kind and loving daughter, she said.
Four Key Tips for Building Self Confidence In Kids
Of course, children being convinced to undergo gender reassignment is at the more extreme end as far as the dangers of the internet go. There are many ways for children to be led astray online nowadays, whether its by being persuaded that engaging in sex at a young age is cool, to being sold drugs, or to meeting strangers online who may have harmful intentions.
For others, simply getting sucked in to spending the majority of their time online, playing games or chatting to friends, is harmful in itself. Not only is too much internet time physically unhealthy, it has also been shown to increase rates of depression and anxiety, leaving kids feeling isolated and despondent.
For this reason alone, Vaynerchuk's first piece of advice – to get kids off the internet completely – is a good one (see our blog: 10 Traditional Games and Activities Guaranteed to Kill Screen Time).
But how to raise their self esteem? Here are four things you can try:
Love unconditionally. Confident children are those who know that they can rely on the adults around them being there for them, no matter what. Making love conditional on being good or on attaining achievements will make children insecure, anxious that at any time their support system – you – may disappear. So be there for them, even when they fail or make mistakes.
But don't over-praise. Showing your children that you love them no matter what, is not the same thing as affirming every thing they do. Children know when they've failed at a task or let you down. Pretending otherwise will make them feel they can't trust your praise. When they do falter, acknowledge it and lovingly help them find ways they can do better next time.
Take a step back. Confidence comes from competence. Children need to learn how to do things themselves in order to feel capable and secure in themselves. Show them, through your own behavior, the right way to tackle a problem or situation, but take a step back and let them try it on their own when the same situation arises for them. That way, they can be sure of their own abilities.
Teach critical thinking. Children who are able to independently assess what they are being told and figure out for themselves whether it's true or not will be far less easy to indoctrinate (see our blog on how to teach critical thinking for ideas on how to do this).