|Many of my friends feel like technology has INVADED their children’s lives. In my work at school as a listener, I see large numbers of young people who don’t agree. Screens are just part of their lives and play a VERY big and important role for them. Life would not be LIFE without their phones and tablets. Access to communication feels like ‘everything’ to them.
The key to helping our kids, is always about finding a healthy balance.
One of the most important verses to help us is found in 2 John. It says:
It seems that John understood that technology (his, being the simple art of writing) was a poor substitute for being face-to-face with someone. He understood the art of true connection. He knew that complete joy happened in community and intimacy with a person being present in the same room. But, he also understood the value of writing things down. Both writing letters and meeting people were key to the growth of the church and the growth and maturing of individuals. The important thing was to hold both those things in balance, rather than tension.
If you bury your head in a book for too long, you forget about the world out there and aren’t much use to it. But if you don’t learn and study, you won’t have much to offer the world. Both are needed.
What we must do is help our children to balance the ways in which they connect with the outside world. Just like them, we ought to seek a healthy combination of both FaceTime and face-to-face time.
Here is a three-step plan for managing technology in our homes which I have based on the amazingly helpful work of PUREHOPE. NET
What does this look like?
a) Activate parental controls – digital devices, browsers and apps all have control ability. You can also protect at the router level.
b) Filter and monitor your kids online with a protection plan. One like Covenant Eyes is a great one to start with.
c) Try to keep technology central. Don’t allow tech in bedrooms or rooms where you won’t be. Besides the obvious risks of children accessing images that can harm them, or putting too much information about themselves online unsafely, cyber bullying and trolling is now all too common.
d) Watch things with them. Don’t be afraid to see what they are doing and join in. The “Would Mummy like/approve of this?” question is one I often test out with my eldest! And he is pretty good at using that as his filter.
2. Secondly, ways to EQUIP your kids
a) We can’t always be there to protect our children. We would be doing them a disservice if that were the case. We also need to equip them.
b) Talk about the capability of technology – the wonderful and the weird. Chat with them about the godly things it can do and also the dangerous and unhealthy things. Equipping our kids means sharing tools for self- monitoring and correction. The people at Purehope.net say, “If we want (our kids) to make good decisions when they leave the security of our homes, they need to understand why prudent tech use is so important to their spiritual and emotional well being.”
3. Thirdly, ways to MODEL wise tech use
a) Remember that your kids will learn far more from watching you than they will from listening to you. Does your tech use really reflect your values and hopes for your family? Be honest! Does it need tweaking a little, or a lot? Do you have good patterns of behaviour around your children when it comes to technology? Remember your children will copy what they see not what you SAY.
If your desire is for your children to have time away from their phone or their screen, how are you modelling that?