Recently, school counselor Melissa Gossard spoke to some of our parents about how to handle technology in our homes. This three-part blog series aims to summarize the conversation that was started that evening. Each segment will include a portion of the topics covered as well as useful tips and hints that can be used to help you manage technology in your home. We are thankful for the opportunity to partner with you in the goal of raising young people who know how to pursue truth, goodness, and beauty.T
In our previous post, we looked at the statistics of how the use of screens and social media is affecting us as a society and the impact of these things on the brain. In this post we will take a look at what Scripture says about how self-control and boundaries play a role in healthy tech management styles.
Master or Be Mastered
Scripture says in II Peter 2:19b, “For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” We must ask ourselves, are we mastering technology as the useful tool it was created to be, or are we being mastered by it? “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls” (Proverbs 25:28) The first step to tackling technology is to evaluate our own use of devices. Are we modeling self-control and the proper use of technology to our children? Do we put our phones away at dinner time? Do we text while driving? Do we answer texts or scroll through Instagram during in-person conversations with other people? We cannot expect our children to do better than we show them how to do. The second step is to set healthy limits and expectations for how our children will use devices. Have time limits. Have tech-free zones and times: places and periods of time where electronic devices are put away and face-to-face interaction is encouraged. Require your children to call people on the telephone to talk rather than just communicating over text or social media. Teach them to order their own food at a restaurant, to communicate personally and independently with their teachers when they have a question or problem. Teach them to look others in the eye when speaking and to have confidence when interacting with adults.
John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” We give ourselves and our children a free, full, and abundant life when we model on-going submission of our appetites and desires to the Lord, including our use of technology.
Wisdom and Courage
Andy Crouch wrote in his book The Tech-Wise Family, “The purpose of family is forming persons. Family shapes us. Families help us develop wisdom, courage, and righteousness.” Technology will be the main force of influence in our children’s lives if we do not actively take the lead. Guiding our children into truth, goodness, and beauty requires effort, sacrifice, and consistency. Just as when we discipline our own bodies through exercise or learning something new and we experience pain, discomfort, and inconvenience, we can expect these things as we train our children to use technology wisely. Do we have the courage it takes to do this work? If not, we need to seek the Lord to help us develop that courage. Seek support from friends who are in this season as well and those who may be a few steps ahead. Hold one another accountable to raising children who are masters of technology, rather than surrendering to being mastered by it. In John 14, Jesus says that if we ask for anything in His name, He will give it to us. How great is His love for us and for our children that He will certainly meet us in this effort to lead our children well.
To be continued….
In the final part of our series, we will look at why we should prepare for tech management to be a challenge but also why we should be willing to embrace that struggle with our children.
Tech Management Tips
- Keep technology exposure gradual and age-appropriate. We don’t give our sixteen-year-old the keys to the car and send them out on the road without thorough instruction and plenty of practice showing they are ready for the responsibility. Why do we give our children unlimited access to the internet much earlier and with far fewer cautions? Make sure you have talked to your child about internet safety and what to do if (when) they are exposed to something inappropriate, dangerous, or questionable.
- Require your children to order their own dinner at restaurants, check-in at appointments, talk to their teachers when they have a question, write thank you letters, call grandparents on the telephone, etc.
- Talk to your children regularly about the sites they are visiting. Are they redeeming? Do they encourage your child to reflect on truth, goodness, and beauty? Who do they follow on social media? Challenge or require your children to follow Christian artists / celebrities / comedians. What goes in is what comes out.
- Reflect regularly on your own cell phone and technology usage as an adult. What are we modeling to our children? Do they see us taking breaks from screens, reading our Bible or books printed on paper, playing games, going for a walk, being fully present where we are?
- Implement the “tell one adult” rule: if (when) your child encounters something inappropriate, dangerous, or questionable on the internet, they are required to tell one predetermined adult right away. Our nature is to become embarrassed and ashamed and to hide shocking information, even if exposure was accidental. By encouraging our children to tell one adult, our children know they are not alone and that they do not need to be ashamed. This gives them control of the situation and allows us as parents the opportunity to guide them through these challenges with wisdom and grace.