A favorite phrase of this ministry’s is “Begin with the end in mind.” It’s far easier to make parental decisions if you know where you desire to end up!
This is especially true in the realm of technology. How you want your child to utilize smartphones, tablets, and video games when they are 18 should guide the decisions you make when they are 2, 7, and 12. More importantly, we must allow God’s Word to guide us each step of the way.
Society tells parents and kids that unlimited, unrestricted access to screens is a normal part of growing up. Yet, as Christians we are called to live counterculturally – and for good reason!
While technology is not specifically referenced in Scripture, God tell us that our eyes are the lamp of our bodies (Matthew 6:22). See more verses in Part 1 of this series. We must be careful consumers of what we let our eyes see – tv, movies, apps, you name it. Are these things inherently evil? Some, like pornography, absolutely are! But much of what we take in falls into a gray area.
Philippians 4:9 is a helpful yardstick to offer our kids (and for ourselves):
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
Use this verse as a conversation starter and to continually point your kids back to who God wants us to be. If we’re unwise with technology, it will overflow from our hearts and attitudes.
Kill, Steal, & Destroy
But the enemy doesn’t want anything excellent or praiseworthy to overflow from our hearts. Especially in this current generation, he uses technology as one of his main methods to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10).
Studies across the board show that our tweens and teens are over-consuming technology. Children ages 8 to 12-years-olds are using technology an average of 5.5 hours a day while older teens are using it an average of 8.5 hours a day.1 Excessive use is in direct correlation with higher rates of obesity, poorer mental health, and lower grades, among other issues.2
As parents, we must get a handle on this and make sure that our children are making time for personal interaction and conversations, physical activity, a personal quiet time with God, schoolwork, serving others, etc.
The Shocking Statistics
If taking away our children’s time, health, and education isn’t enough, the enemy is going to try to destroy their mind. Now, we’re talking about pornography.
Here are a few statistics from PurifyYourGaze.com:
- 40% of boys in grades four through 11 have admitted to searching for porn. Most of them do so often.
- The average age for a child to view porn is 11 years old.
- 93% of boys and 63% of girls have seen explicit content before turning 18.
- 70% of boys have spent more than 30 minutes searching for porn online.
- 35% of boys have searched for porn more than 10 times overall.
- Only 3% of boys and 17% of girls have not been exposed to adult content.3
Pornography is prevalent. Whether we like it or not, most kids are going to either stumble upon it accidentally or search it out intentionally. Parents, we can’t claim ignorance. We can’t stick our heads in the sand and hope that our kids will be the exception to the statistics.
So what can we do?
- Go First – Be the first person to talk with your child about pornography. You don’t want them learning anything about sexuality from anyone other than you. And start these conversations early! More on this in an upcoming podcast.
- Keep Going – This isn’t a one and done conversation. You will need to engage your kids again and again, if for no other reason than reminding them that you are their point person.
- Add Resources – Call in other trusted adults who can step in if your teen doesn’t feel comfortable sharing with you. Chose adults that will point your child back to the Word for truth. Seek out reputable sources that can help you moderate the screens you give to your kids.
- Be Available – If you are too busy, or even appear too busy to have a conversation with your teens, they will have a much harder time coming to you. Remind them continually that you will always drop what you’re doing to talk with them.
- Be a Safe Place – We need to remember that viewing pornography and excessive technology use is a sin just like negative thought patterns, gossip, and gluttony. Thus, when our children share their sin with us, we can empathize as one sinner to another.
- Provide Action Steps – Our kids need something to do when they find themselves face to face with inappropriate content. One idea is to teach our kids to close the screen and bring the device to a parent. This gives them a practical action that they can take to open the doors to communication.
- Pray – We have a powerful resource at our disposal, the Holy Spirit. Ask for help and wisdom for how to handle technology with your kids. If your children are believers, remind them that the Holy Spirit is alive and active in them as well. Their sensitivity to the Spirit will help them develop the self-control and discipline necessary to take what you’ve taught them into their adult lives.
Is your child obsessed with technology? Is the battle already overwhelming? Do you feel it is too late? Next week on this blog I will share tips to take back control and create safe boundaries that your child can succeed in. Be sure to subscribe to not miss these helpful tips.