There is a wide world we live in that is prepared to deliver its spin on truth to our kids. They are bombarded by a culture that does not value God’s version of right and good, but is anxious to sell its own – and its king of lies is anxious to steal our truth.
“Our courts oppose the righteous and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed. Yes, truth is gone and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.” Isaiah 59:14-15 NLT
Kids are plugged into technology at home, at school, and at play. They are growing up in a society which receives and sends information in ways and speeds that we didn’t even fathom when we were growing up.
Will our children know what it means to be still in a world that isn’t?
Here are four practical (seasoned with spiritual) ways we can equip our children to not only handle the information that is set before their eyes, but to hold it in proper esteem:
1. SET BOUNDARIES:
You don’t let them wander around the neighborhood unsupervised – don’t let them wander the cyber-world either.
Utilize parental filters or family safety apps. (MamaBear, AVG Family Safety, Life360). Better yet, be a parental filter. Put the computer in the kitchen, set time-limitations, or create a technology dead zone in your home (no devices at the dinner table, family room, etc.).
Enable restrictions. This is an Apple feature that allows you to set a passcode and then disable features on your [kids] devices, as well as set age and viewing restriction on games, apps, web content.
Consider random spot checks. Have your kids hand over technology at your command and you can browse history, read texts, and review e-mail. This isn’t about invading privacy, but protecting your investment – namely, your children.
Know passwords for all your children’s devices. For that matter, you and your spouse should know one another’s too. Don’t model keeping secrets – if we have nothing to hide, then open access shouldn’t be a problem.
2. UNPLUG ALL TOGETHER:
I’m almost certain the sound of an incoming text sends our kids moving faster than the sound of the smoke detector going off. The world won’t stop when we unplug – there is life in us yet!
Engage in a technology fast as a family. Turn everything off, pull out some board games, and have some face to face family time. Try this: unplug your wi-fi router and watch the family flood to your feet.
I’m as guilty as the next gal of making my phone an appendage – but if we will disengage from our devices so will our kids. This isn’t about punishment, but balance. We can teach our children early that there is a cost associated with their time and they need to be wise how they spend it.
More so, we can cultivate in them the desire to spend time with the Lord first – to be still and know God – then everything else will fall into its rightful place. Including screen time.
3. “P” IS FOR PRIVACY:
When we post/tweet/comment, we are publicizing our thoughts and inviting people into our lives. It’s like opening our front window and inviting the whole world to peak in. We [meaning us and our kids] now have a captive audience.
If you’ve learned this lesson the hard way, it’s a great one to pass on to your kids…not everyone we invite into our lives enters with grace. With access to our words and not our hearts, people will jump to conclusions, presume to know our intentions, or use our “friendship” as an open invitation to offer their opinion about everything we do.
On the flip side – we need to consider that not everyone finds what we have to say helpful or necessary. We [again, us and our kids] need to be cautious and wise about our motives in our cyber friendships – we are creating online reputations.
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble thinking of others as better than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3
Think before you post. Be considerate of your audience. Kindness counts.
Let’s model for our kids that being a person of character and integrity does not get dumped at the keyboard and screen. And some things are better left unsaid.
4. FRIEND OR FOE:
You’ve monitored social media, limited screen time, and know the pinpoint location of your child 24/7. Then on Friday at the lunch tables, Jimmy from down the street decides to pull out his phone and Google Miss. September.
You can do an incredible job with your own kids, but you can’t monitor everyone else’s. Be pro-active. Inform your kids of the dangers and temptations they will be faced with online, and in life – even those that come from seemingly friendly sources.
Ignorance is not bliss. Innocence can be lost with one simple Google search.
Pornography, graphic websites, YouTube videos – many of these can be accidental pop-ups or the result of a simple typo in a search term. If and when our kids are exposed to these, shame and fear of punishment can keep them from seeking our help. Open communication means they know that there is grace in their missteps and we are a safe haven.
Then we direct them back to God’s truth. When they learn early that their first line of defense is truth – the path to confession, forgiveness, and grace is so much easier to follow – now and in the future.
“We faithfully preach the truth…we use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense.” 2 Corinthians 2:6-7 NLT
It’s so tempting to want to lock our kids away from the dangers of this world – to isolate and protect them. But if our ultimate goal is for them to depend less on us and more on Christ, then the proper response is to equip them to run their own race.
We point them towards God and we pray they keep running His direction.
God gives us kids and counts us worthy to raise them up – and we can give thanks that He doesn’t ask us to go it alone. We have Him and we have each other.
The next time you see a mom, head in hand, wondering what will come of the children that test the limits of her heart – take the seat next to her, lean in close, and whisper these words that I speak to you today…“Rest in grace, trust the Lord, and breathe – you are doing great.”
Photo Credit (Text/Image Overlays by Tiffany Parry)