While most children nowadays have more knowledge of technology by the age of 3 than many of us had at the age of 13, it’s time for us to get honest about the fact that technology is going to be a part of our children’s lives for the rest of their lives.
As parents, we can choose to:
- Ignore it and act like it doesn’t have any real influence in the lives of our kids.
- Embrace it as well as all the pros and cons that come with it.
- Or find some middle ground in between the two.
We as Christian parents are at a very important crossroads where we have to make some crucial decisions for our children, one of which is this – “Am I going to treat technology like it’s simply out of my control or am I going to be intentional and proactive about teaching my children how to use it properly?” If it’s truly not going anywhere, we’re going to be forced to make that choice, whether we want to or not.
Sadly, America is raising a generation of young people who in a sense are an “experiment” of technology. No generation prior has ever had the access to as much technology and its unknown long-term effects like our children’s.
I’m certainly not one to argue the virtues of modern technology, but I do believe that the Internet and technology is not more bad than it is good. It’s neutral. We understand that it has the power to be a great force for evil, but it equally has the power to be a wonderful force for good and the Gospel.
If we can train our children how to use it properly, we can set them up to effectively change the world and be that much more influential for the kingdom of God! On the flip side…
“If we fail to train our kids how to use technology properly, we are in essence handing them a loaded gun without giving them any safety training and guidance.”
A few months ago, my 12 year old son took a two day gun safety training course. Two full days of specific hands on training to be fully prepared and safe when it comes to handling a gun.
Most of America’s children are holding something far more dangerous than even a gun in their hand everyday. They’re spending hours on it unsupervised, and they’ve probably had less than two hours of “safety training”, if any at all. And unfortunately, very few people seem concerned, because most of them don’t give much thought to exactly what it is that they’re putting into their child’s hands.
Like a loaded gun, what does “safety training” look like when a young person is handed an internet-connected device (smartphone, tablet, laptop, etc)? Do we even think about safeties for these types of things?
Think about this… With the technology of Siri and voice command, at just the touch of a button, you can now ask to know and see virtually anything you want almost immediately… Wow! That’s powerful. And don’t think for a moment that our kids don’t know it.
So what’s a parent to do? I think we would do well in this area to heed the words of Prov. 22:6 and intentionally ‘train up our children in the way they should go.’
Let me give you three simple and easy to remember guidelines for using and training your children to use technology in your home and life in general.
1. LIMIT it.
There needs to be limits. This should go without being said, but there needs to be specific and measurable limits on technology usage.
- When should a young person be able to get social media accounts?
- Should devices be used and available at all times or limited times (what about dinner time… at night in their bedroom)?
- Are there any restrictions about what can and can’t be done, watched, or accessed?
Four questions to ask yourself about limits:
- What are they? (Everyone in your household needs to know clearly what they are.)
- Where are they written down? (Visibly posting them somewhere in your home has a lot of benefits)
- Have I taken any precautionary measures to enforce them? (safe browsers, parent controls, filters)
- What are the consequences if they’re not followed?
This past year, our son got his first iPod. It was a big step for us to allow him to have one. It’s connected to my Apple account, meaning we have full access to everything he does or has on it at anytime. Here are his rules for using it that are saved visibly on his iPod and that he is held accountable to follow:
- It’s a luxury, not a necessity
- Purpose: gaming & helpful tools (Bible, calculator, etc.)
- No internet usage allowed (We removed the internet app)
- Download free apps only, with parent’s permission only
- Not allowed at school and church services
- Must be kept upstairs in Dad’s room at night and when not in use
- Dad & Mom have the right to:
- Take it away ANYTIME we deem necessary
- Withhold it as a form of punishment or for lack of responsibility at home, school, etc.
- Have access to it and anything on it at any time.
Reminder: YOU ARE ALLOWED AS THE PARENT TO PUT LIMITS ON THINGS. Don’t ever forget or forfeit that right.
2. LEARN it.
There needs to be knowledge on our part.
As parents we need to be knowledgeable of the kinds of devices our children are using and what they are capable of.
If we are going to allow our kids to have access to something as powerful as the Internet or a handheld device, we need to know how to use it ourselves. It’s difficult to train someone how to properly use a gun when you’ve never personally shot one yourself.
When a gun owner has many guns they usually spend lots of money on a gun case to store them securely for the sake of their family’s protection.
For some reason, many parents think they can manage the “loaded gun” of the Internet and app stores without using any protection like activating parental controls or using a good filtering system. (Net Nanny, Covenant Eyes, K9 Web Protection). As adults, we know the dangers out there online, and with most kids’ first exposure to porn being earlier than 11 years old, let’s not act oblivious to those dangers when it comes to our kids. We’ve got to stay on the offensive.
As a children’s pastor, I’ve seen a lot of kids get involved in many inappropriate things on their device, and sadly, their parents have no clue because they’re technologically illiterate and just assume their child can be trusted. That is a very, very dangerous position to put themselves and their child in without them even knowing it. And usually, they only realize it too little too late.
This issue brings a new dimension to the meaning of 2 Corinthians 2:11, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us, for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
When it comes to ‘devices’ in the hands of your kids, Satan wants you to be ignorant.
3. LEVERAGE it.
It’s important that we learn to take advantage of technology without allowing it to take advantage of us and our family.
Never before has technology and its benefits been easier to access and use. So leverage it for the benefit of you and your family! With its ease of use and multitude of free resources available, there’s really no excuse for us not using technology to our advantage.
No doubt, much more could be said on this issue, but hopefully, these three simple, yet effective things will help motivate you to action and make you a better parent when it comes to using technology wisely in your home.
Technology – It’s here to stay, so let’s Limit it, Learn it, and Leverage it.
If we don’t, I fear that future generations will pay the price for our negligence.
And if we do, I believe we have helped equip the next generation to use one of the greatest tools available for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
It’s our responsibility. It’s our time. It’s our choice. Let’s make it happen!
This article originally appeared here, and is used by permission.