I am thankful for Eliza Huie and the folks at the Biblical Counseling Coalition. They are producing some great work in really accessible forms.
Raising Kids in a Screen-Saturated World ($5 amazon right now) is an excellent resource for parents as we think about raising our children in a world inundated with technology and screens. As noted in my last post, everything today revolves around screens. It's part of life now.
In this booklet, Huie notes that with the rise of Google and Social Media, the very ways in which we live and experience life have changed. For example, every 60 seconds on Facebook there are 510,000 new comments, 293,000 news status posts, and 136,000 new photos. Every minute; 24 hours per day. (11)
A study conducted by Business Insider found that the average smartphone user touches his/her phone 2,617 per day. That floored me.
Extreme users were found to touch their phones 5,400 times per day. (11)
Now, something else is changing (has changed) that parents today must recognize: Our children are, to use Huie’s term, “Digital Natives.” They are at home in the world of screens in a way that we never were, and probably never will be.
"Older parents feel the gap and would readily classify themselves as digital immigrants, easily lost and confused in a world that is always connected. But even younger parents who don’t remember life without connection to technology soon discover that their children advance much faster than they do when it comes to the world of technology.” (14)
In this little book, Huie seeks not only to call attention to the growing reality of technology and children, but to encourage parents to think well and to think biblically about how we are shepherding our children into this world.
Here are the high points…
1 - Model Digital Discipline and Courtesy.
-This one hits home for me. How am I modeling the use of phones and technology in front of my children? It is hard for me to not have my phone on my person (I didn’t even want to write that sentence).
Before instructing our children, this book helps parents to ask the question, “What is technology doing to me? What am I teaching my children through my own behavior?”
2 - When Should Parents Give Their Child(ren) a Device?
-In this section, Huie provides some helpful guidance on thinking through this important question. With most children receiving a phone between the ages of 9-11, it's a pressing issue.
“Certainly there is wisdom in not rushing it, and it is important to know that even when they are ready there will still be a lot of parental guidance needed.” (27).
3 - Remembering that You are the Parent.
-Our children do not need smart technology to grow and mature. But, they do need parents. And as they begin to explore the online world, they will need us by their side, helping, leading, and guiding (whether they want us there or not).
There is a phenomenon researchers are calling “online disinhibition effect” which “is the impetus for cyberbullying, sexting, and inappropriate communication online.” (33).
In other words, as any online user knows, being online changes you. It makes you feel that you can do certain things that you never would in person. And this is especially true with young people.
-Parents, our children need us to be involved with them in the online world. We are their parents. We are their shepherds.
“Far too many parents are sending their children into an increasingly digital reality without proper training, and without biblical instruction.” (36)
4 - Recognize the Enemy.
-Technology is not a bad thing. But, like anything else, it is vulnerable to misuse and abuse. Yet unlike many things, the misuse and abuse of technology opens the door to serious sin and consequences.
Parents, we must have a well-grounded, biblical understanding of sin, Satan, and temptation as we guide our children into the tech world.
Technology is not the enemy. Sin is the enemy.
5 - How to Enjoy Technology.
As I have noted, there are lots of positives with technology. All kinds of advancements are available to us today, and so many of them are positive!
My wife and I love all the different educational options available to us as we homeschool. It really diversifies our children’s education in ways that could not have been done prior.
There are great ways to use technology personally, and as a family. “We must…learn to live well with technology, enjoying it and engaging with it.” (46). And we must teach our children how to do this as well.
6 - Lives Shaped by God, not Screens.
Ultiamtely, the root of the issue is not technology, it is God. Is my life rooted in God, or something else? Huie notes, “With intentional focus, technology is a freedom that can be used to serve one another” (51).
“In training our kids to love the Lord with all their heart, we must also be an example of this….How does our screen use reveal our priorities?” (52).
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Get this booklet!