A while ago, my wife and I saw a friend at a Christmas party who I hadn’t seen in months…at least face-to-face. But immediately I complimented her on her Thanksgiving decorations and asked how her daughter’s b-day party was last weekend…as if we had just talked days before.
Instagram. I follow her on Instagram.
Americans have plenty of complaints about cell phones and the Internet. I regularly encounter parents who just want to smash their kids’ phones. But let’s not be too quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
A few years ago, Pew released a report revealing American’s feelings about the Internet. In total, 87 percent of online adults say the Internet and cell phones have improved their ability to learn new things.
That’s a no brainer. What did you do the last time you were lost and needed quick directions? Did you stop by a gas station and ask? Or did you ask Siri?
One time, I was at Home Depot shopping for a new water filter for my refrigerator. About 30 seconds into the conversation with the Home Depot employee I realized that he didn’t know what he was talking about. After politely thanking him for his help, I walked away and did a search on my Amazon app for the filter. I found the right filter for $20 less…and ordered it before I got to my car.
God Bless the iPhone!
I know, I know. Some people are having fits with kids and their phones. But we’d probably be having fits with our kids and their automobiles if we just handed them keys one day and said, “Don’t break it.” But we’ve learned better with cars. We’ve learned that kids need to take tests, obey rules, take more tests, sit in the seat with an adult next to them for six months, and then drive without their friends in the car for a year.
But what do American parents do when they give their 12-year-old a new iPhone?
Merry Christmas! Good luck!
Let’s be smarter than that. Let’s talk with our kids about some of these issues:
- What does cyber bullying really look like, and what can you do about it?
- How can we keep social media safe?
- When does screen time become too much?
- Are we allowing social media to feed our insecurities?
- Is it appropriate to send sexy pics or messages via our phones?
These are issues we need to dialogue about with our kids. How can we do this?
Here are five ideas to be proactive and help your kids be smarter than their smartphones!
- Stay connected to parenting resources that provide free articles and help with current issues.
- Keep your eyes open for studies about phones, Social Media and Technology. Ask your kids what they think? Discuss what responsible use of these devices looks like.
- Try media fasts as a family. Be proactive, even playing games where you cut back on tech time.
- Use books like Should I Just Smash My Kid’s Phone? or A Parents Guide to Understanding Social Media, helping you set realistic boundaries, and dialogue with your kids about these issues (that Smash book includes a sample phone contract and a social media guide).
- Be an example of how to use tech responsibly, not be controlled by tech. We can teach what we know, but we can only reproduce who we are.
Have you begun these conversations with your kids?
Jonathan McKee is the president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller – The Guy’s Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife, Lori, and their three kids live in California.
This article originally appeared here.