Electronic devices are discipling our children – sometimes for hours a day. They are telling them what to think and feel; how to act and react; and are shaping them socially and spiritually. In a world where technology is ubiquitous and our children can no longer live without it (laptops and/or iPads are increasingly compulsory in schools, sports teams communicate via text, etc), parents have a responsibility to teach their children how to sail the technology storm so that these means don’t surreptitiously become their masters.
But what does that look like? There’s no doubt it looks a little different in each household, and (as with everything) discipleship in this area falls under two categories:
(1) activities or behaviours that the bible clearly speaks against, or
(2) activities or behaviours that the bible doesn’t clearly speak against,
but God-given wisdom would have us make a judgement call on
whether it is good for us, and glorifying of Christ.
Here’s 10 things to consider while teaching our children to approach technology as they grow.
1. Model How to Master Media Yourself.
What example do you set with your own technology use?
2. Treat Media as a Privilege, Not a Right.
Remind your children that this privilege brings temptation for misuse, and it can be taken away.
3. Thoughtfully Introduce Media Privileges at Appropriate Times.
You determine when your child is ready for things like a smartphone (rather than one that simply texts and calls, which is enough), and social media accounts.
4. Guard the Gate for Content.
Accountability software, protective measures like content restrictions, and a PIN on Netflix.
5. Guard the Gate for Time.
Self-control includes placing time limits on screens to prevent fostering addiction. You may also like the idea of a technology Sabbath each week.
6. Make Family Relationships a Priority.
Perhaps this might mean no electronics during dinner and driving.
7. Use Electronics and Media to Build Family Unity.
Take an interest in sharing media. Connect with your child through the sports, movies, and music they enjoy.
8. Find Like-Minded Families.
Children love to compare what their friends’ parents allow. Join arms with parents who feel the same way about holding back the tsunami of electronics that looms on the horizon.
9. Talk about Internet Temptations.
The Internet is full of unnecessary bragging, hypocrisy, and bullying. While these provide important lessons in character and The Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12), they also serve as a reminder that once something appears on the Internet, it never goes away.
10. Have the Courage to Pull the Plug.
If your children behave inappropriately, they may need a reminder of some of the above. They won’t die if technology is removed for a time of correction, and the withdrawal they feel will help bring the message home. Suffering has a way of bringing our heart issues to the surface, which provides additional (often multiple) opportunities for discipleship in love.
Disciple-making parents will equip their children (and model how) to rule over the technologies and temptations of this age.
This post was based on chapter 25 of Chap Bettis’ book The Disciple-Making Parent.