You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:13-16)
In August, a documentary detailing the dangers of social media entitled Childhood 2.0 was released on YouTube.
The film highlights the way children are raised today in comparison to how they were raised twenty years ago. It points out true dangers of the online world in which many of our children spend hours each day.
It has been said that an average teenager spends
50% of their time living in real life
AND 50% of their time living their online life.
Even the most well meaning parents are fully engaged in their teenager’s “real life” but often have no idea what is going on in their “online life.”
Most children have a far greater knowledge of technology than adults, which often leads to adults disengaging in this vital part of their child’s life. It is literally impossible to keep up with all of the trends and apps that our children are using and or are exposed to on their devices.
Even with the best monitoring software, a daily education is needed for parents to truly understand what their children are actually doing on social media. It is the Wild West and there are no rules of engagement to guide our steps.
So as parents, how are we to guide our children through the challenging, ever changing technology world they are growing up in each day?
Unfortunately there is not an internet user’s manual to guide our every decision. However, there are questions that we should constantly be asking ourselves as we walk through this journey with our children.
Here are a few important questions all Christian parents should ask as we seek to point our children to Christ through their use of technology:
- What are we modeling for our children when it comes to social media? Last week we discussed the idea that so often we are modeling the exact behaviors that we are concerned about in our children.
- Do we really know all of our child (in their real life and in their online life)? How many hours a day does my child spend on his or her devices and am I fully aware of what is happening during that time period?
- Are we feeding our child’s anxiety, depression and addiction? Recent studies are showing the direct correlation between anxiety and depression and the iPhone. Studies also clearly show the reality of technology addiction in our culture.
- Are we parenting to “make our kids happy” or to “be like everyone else?” All parents would like to say no. The real question is this: as Christians are we willing to look different even if it makes our kids unhappy or stand out from their friends?
- Why do our children need social media? There is no doubt that social media can be dangerous for teenagers for a multitude of reasons. We all know this and yet very few question allowing our children to have accounts.
- Who is monitoring our children’s online lives? What software or family guidelines do we have to ensure that our children’s activity on their devices is being monitored?
- Are we being intentional in our interactions? Is there purpose behind our own technology choices and interactions or are we just entertaining ourselves?
- What about our family’s use of technology is honoring God? Is God pleased with the amount of time we spend on technology and how we go about guiding our children’s time on their devices?
- Is technology our servant or our master? Technology can be a great tool to do so many wonderful things. However, so can many drugs…yet when not used properly they become very dangerous. Does our family master or serve technology?
- Are we raising our children to blend into the world or change the world? Are we raising our children in such a way that they understand that this world is not their home? Are we teaching them that their full purpose can only be achieved in knowing Christ and impacting the world for Him? Or are we raising our children to look just like everyone else around them?
All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.Hebrews 11:13-16
When it comes to this Wild West world of technology there are no easy answers. However, in Scripture it is crystal clear that if our families and children look just like the world around us then something is terribly wrong.
Whether we like it our not, this current generation is the guinea pig when it comes to growing up with technology. Fair or not, this is the world they are being raised in and it is the world we are being asked to parent in.
May God give us grace to ask hard questions that truly challenge the status quo of Christian parenting in America. May we be willing to stand out in such a way that brings salt and light to the world around us.