My son is a technology freak. If I let him, he’ll become glued to the television set like a blob of clay, moving the controller in jerk like motion from morning until night if I allowed it. At one point last year, it had become a full- blown addiction to the point where he was engaging in sneaky and ungodly behavior (changing passwords, sneaking around at night) just to “get his fix.” My husband and I were at a crossroads. Should we take it away altogether or figure out ways for him to use it but with highly restricted boundaries?
After much prayer and consideration, we came to a conclusion: it is possible to raise godly kids in this technological age! But how do we allow them to use the technology in a godly way without it taking over their lives? Here are seven ways we can parent well in the digital age:
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Augustin De Montesquiou
1. Know Your Kids’ Weaknesses and Strengths When It Comes to Technology
As with anything, know what your kids can handle and what they can’t. Studies show prolonged uses of technology can:
- Rewire a brain
- Increase the part of the brain that controls impulsivity.
My son with ADHD must have strict limits on his technology use, or else he begins to need technology like a person needs food. It rewires his brain and his impulsiveness increases dramatically. If technology will cause your child harm, by all means cut it out.
However, if they can handle some, allow them to use it as long as you are aware of:
- What they are using
- How they are using it, and most importantly,
- Why they are using it.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Sarah Sharp
2. Start Your Kids with Greater Tech Boundaries and Slowly Give Them Decision Making Power
When we first moved into our new home, we tied our dog out on her leash outside on our deck. With very little leash, she stood there immobilized; too afraid to make any move for fear the leash would become too tight and choke her. But when we added an extra leash to her chain, she was able to go so far she got wrapped around our dogwood tree several feet from the deck! We compromised and shortened the rope enough where she could frolic in the yard, but not too far where she could get hurt.
It’s the same with your kids – start with greater tech boundaries and gradually let them make more decisions as they prove responsible and sensible.
- If you hold the rope too tightly, your kids will feel stifled and will lose their independence.
- If you give them too much freedom, they may cross boundaries that will cause them harm.
Give them enough rope where they are allowed to be free, but not too much where they will do psychological or emotional harm to themselves.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Stephen Kim
3. Set a Good Example of Proper Boundaries with Your Own Screen Time
How can kids know how to set good boundaries if their parents don’t know how? Parents who are found staring at their cell phones and TV screens:
- Miss out on valuable opportunities to spend time with their kids.
- Allow kids to think it’s ok to spend copious amounts of time in front of the screen.
Screen time can be ok, but it should be a supplement to life, not take the place of real face-to-face interaction through meaningful activities. Challenge yourself to limit the amount of time you spend scrolling through Facebook on your phone and playing Fortnite on your console. Trade in screen time for real activities.
Can you take your kids to a museum or park instead? Enjoy reality the way God intended instead of allowing them to create a false one they need to escape to often.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/RawPixel
4. Leverage Technology to Benefit Your Kids’ Spiritual Walk
With smart phones so prevalent, kids have access to the internet and social media now more than ever before. Because they can access it doesn’t mean they should access it. However, when used responsibly, it can be a great tool for discipleship and evangelism.
- Kids can read and memorize Bible verses with help from apps like iDisciple and other Bible apps by sending verses right to your kids’ phones.
- Kids can also witness to their friends on social media in a way that is not as intimidating as face-to-face.
Taking away technology altogether may keep your kids away from understanding the benefits technology can bring. But when used in a good way, it can be of great spiritual benefit to kids.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Max Felner
5. Increase Kid’s Knowledge Base for Learning and Applying God’s Word
In the relativistic age in which we live, application of the Word is the key to getting nonbelievers interested in Christianity. Kids need to apply their Bible knowledge and experience God in a real, personal way. Technology can help with this through the use of social media, podcasts, and other tools where they can access sermons from churches and stories of believers all over the world.
- They can learn what real life Bible application looks like not only in their hometown, but also in Canada, China, and other places simply with the click of a mouse.
- They can also see how people worship God in many different cultures and styles, which teaches them that the Church is global and diverse.
Now is the best time in history for kids to learn more and apply that knowledge to their daily lives.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Eduardo Dutra
6. Guard Kids’ Hearts from Making Technology an Idol
Although the Bible doesn’t speak to technology specifically, it does speak to anything that people want to indulge in that could possibly get out of control:
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12).
Through Christ’s death on the cross, we are no longer bound by rules and rigidity when it comes to knowing God. However, we still must guard our hearts from false idols taking precedence in our lives. This goes for technology as well as anything we permit ourselves to do. As long as kids watch out for the role technology takes in their lives, technology can be permissible in their lives.
If you are still unsure if technology is right for your child, post Bible verses on top of computer and TV screens as a gentle (yet convicting) reminder of God’s love for his children. A great verse for this is Deuteronomy 7:26 which says, “Do not bring a detestable thing into your house or you, like it, will be set apart for destruction.” Everyone needs a reminder of the living word of God, including our kids when it comes to what they put before their eyes on their screens.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Thought Catalog
7. Make Yourself Available to Talk because Your Kids Need You
As with any difficult issue kids are facing today, kids still need their parents’ help and support to navigate through the muddy waters of life.
- Despite the eye rolls and constant sighs, kids still need their parents.
- Despite the appearance that they think parents are inept when it comes to the ever-changing nature of technology, parents still have the advantage when it comes to setting proper boundaries and guarding eyes from harmful content that is now so easily accessible.
However, when kids have crossed boundaries they should not have, they still need a place to go to for support and perhaps forgiveness. Make yourself available in case kids need to talk to someone about how to use technology in a more positive way.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Jenna Anderson
"...kids will not only live in a technological age—they’ll thrive."
Technology, like many things in this scary time in our history, can be tricky to navigate. The easy thing to do would be to not allow them to have anything technological for fear it will get out of control. But if we, as parents:
- Keep a close eye on our kids use of technology,
- Open the lines of communication,
- And guard their hearts against technology becoming a false idol,
Then kids will not only live in a technological age—they’ll thrive.
Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year, the Enduring Light Silver Medal and the Maxwell Award, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She is also an associate literary agent with Wordwise Media Services. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Sage Kirk
Originally published Friday, 07 September 2018.