Kids and Technology

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Kids and Technology

{originally published in 2012}   Not sure exactly how you should respond to the Social Media craze? You may even be asking yourself what rules (if any) should you enforce in your home as your children interact with the web? Well the media is interested in these questions too. Specifically this  news release – CBS reporter, Lou Young’s article, “NJ Principal asks parents to ban social networking” highlights school’s interest in the subject. Here’s my response to it… The Internet and the myriad high-tech options that the average person has available to them today deserve our respect and appreciation. We can address life’s dilemmas and more quickly activate effective solutions to the world’s problems than ever before in history. Has technology also brought an equal amount of negative factors with it? Of course it has. But that has always been the nature of progress. Every good idea can be appropriated in an evil or corrosive way. In spite of its negative potential, should we deny ourselves the benefits of progress simply because there’s a down side to it? Many would say, “Absolutely!” Unfortunately, that conclusion is the very thing that could set a family up to be destroyed by these very things that they fear. Which brings up the other concern I have about the people who choose, out of alarm and distress, not to appropriate the primary pillars of technology into their overall lives (in spite their countless benefits). Banning our kids from social networking sites isn’t the answer! Spiritual logic dictates that people who spurn technology because of its negative potential actually put themselves and their children in a fragile position. They put themselves in a place of weakness, rather than in a place of God given strength. Both types of people are refusing to live a balanced life when it comes to their technological options. People who reject technology’s benefits out of fear of its liabilities are choosing to stay in a weak position spiritually. Besides the negative impact that this fear-based strategy has on them personally, they are also modeling this anemic response to technology to their kids. This just about guarantees that their kids will some day find themselves at the mercy of technology rather than in control of it. It is also one of the surest ways to set our children up to be drawn into some of technology’s darkest corridors. “But, Tim, kids can text message all kinds of vile things on their cell phone, and there are so many inappropriate exchanges on Facebook and other social networking sites.” Let me remind you that kids don’t need the option of Cyber Bullying to communicate inappropriately. They can do it just as easily by the old fashion method: face to face. Since the Garden of Eden, parents have been given the job of teaching children how to communicate with reverence and respect towards others. We don’t get to skirt around our responsibility of transferring these skills to our kids just because someone came up with a high-tech way of doing it. The best way to protect our children from these things is to teach them how to harness the infinite power of God’s presence in their heart to do the right thing; whether it’s refusing to respond in kind, or choosing to stay out of chat rooms, or gravitating towards different friends, or ignoring and deleting toxic text messages. Obviously, there is a time and place for Internet filters in a high tech family. But too often, an Internet filter is the main, and sometimes only, thing parents do to protect their children – or themselves. That’s because they are assuming that the problem is the Internet. It is not. The problem is in their child’s (or parent’s) inability to make wise choices when using the Internet. If all we do is put an Internet filter on our computer, we’ve only made it tougher for a child to act on their curiosity or urges. We’ve simply postponed the time when they will get drawn into its dangerous web. Until we have graciously walked with them through the ups and downs of learning how to handle the Internet with moral nobility, we’ve really done little to equip them to live balanced lives. We put fences around our swimming pools and child-locks on the cupboards. But our ultimate job is to teach our children how to swim and to use medicine and cleaning products properly. Once we’ve done that, they’ll know what to do should they fall in the pool or gain access to the contents of our cupboards. In the same way, the best method for keeping our kids safe from the dangers of the Internet is to teach them how to appropriate its many benefits properly.


For more information about Kids and Technology see this newsletter article and Little House on the Freeway (available in book and audio form).

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