Parenting & Technology: A Call for Faithful Engagement

By Cayce Finley · 

Smiles filled the room during a recent Parent Roundtable as Crosspoint Church Student Minister Brock Bass displayed photos of technology from years past: a Sony Walkman, a Game Boy, a calculator watch — even a Speak & Spell.

The photos of out-dated gadgets weren’t just for nostalgia’s sake — Brock reminded the room full of parents, “No matter what decade you grew up in, you sought relationships with others using the technology available to you at that time.”

Around the room, heads nodded in agreement. As Brock traced the history of technology, it’s clear that despite the rapid change, the desire for human connection has remained.

 

Two Pitfalls

Today, as teens embark on the same quest of connecting relationally through technology, parents often feel like weary bystanders — dizzily trying to keep up with ever-changing apps, devices, and trends. In this unexplored frontier of technology, parents quickly fall into one of two pitfalls: foolish freedom or fearful control.

Foolish freedom says it’s too hard to keep up so I’ll sit back, let my teens navigate it solo, and hope it’ll all work out in the end. The parents who find themselves here didn’t necessarily plan it that way. But after years of giving in to screen time for a moment’s peace, they find themselves standing on the cliff of adolescence unable to reign in years of permissiveness.

On the other hand, fearful control says technology is too hard to manage so I won’t bother. My teens won’t have smartphones or use social media — after all, nothing redemptive could come of it. These families refuse to see technology as a tool for growth, service, and community. Sidelined by fear, smartphones become an evil to be avoided.

 

A Third Path

For those at the Parenting Roundtable, Family Pastor Josh Jones proposed a third path  — faithful engagement.

Reading from Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Josh reminded parents of God’s command to first love Him with all their hearts. As that love overflows, parents will consistently and intentionally talk with their children about many things including technology.

Since teens see their parents’ sin struggles with razor-sharp clarity, he urged them to share honestly about the challenge to keep technology in its right place.

“One of the greatest ways we can serve our kids is to admit that we struggle with the role technology has come to play in our own lives,” Pastor Josh said. “We don’t like some of our bad habits — constantly reaching for our phone, endlessly scrolling our feeds, texting while driving. Let your kids know you struggle, too. Partner with them rather than condemning them with an ‘I’ve got this all figured out’ attitude.”

Pastor Josh recommended several steps for parents to faithfully engage with their children:

    • Develop an “Ask Me” relationship. Your child has questions, and you want to be the one they ask. Answer candidly and honestly even if the questions make you a little uncomfortable. As you do, you’ll build a foundation of trust making it easy for them to come to you. Your child must know “they can tell you anything, you won’t overreact, and you promise to be fair.”

 

    • Monitor and guide. Accountability software is an essential tool worth a minimal monthly cost. Count the number of devices in your home. Then spend time talking with others and researching products and services to protect your family. “Checking the history on your child’s laptop just isn’t enough,” Josh said.

 

    • Establish rules of conduct. Establish rules for all members of your family — parents and children alike. Answer questions such as:
      • Where are computers and smartphones allowed? Common areas? Bedrooms?
      • What hours of the day and for how long can devices be used?
      • Can devices be used in the car? Grandma’s house? Neighbors?

 

    • Be teachable and proactive. Staying current on the latest trends in technology can be overwhelming. Resources, like the ones listed below, such as The Culture Translator and the Center for Youth and Parent Understanding make that task a bit easier. Use relevant resources to discover, discern, and decide what apps work for your family and which ones to avoid.

 

Endless Supply of Grace

Parenting kids and teens amidst the changing tides of technology is hard — really hard. Without a clear vision, parents fall prey to the pitfalls of giving too much freedom or grabbing too much control.

For Christians, technology is yet another opportunity to point our children to God’s endless supply of grace. And while we’re certain to stumble and fall as we go, may we use technology to love God, serve others, and display the hope of Christ.

 

Recommended Resources

Books

The Tech Wise Family by Tony Reinke

Every Parents Guide to Navigating Our Digital World by Kara Powell, Art Bramford, and Brad Griffin

The Next Story by Tim Challies

Good Pictures Bad Pictures (ages 8+) by Kristen Jenson and Debbie Fox

Good Pictures Bad Pictures, Jr. (ages 3-9) by Kristen Jenson and Debbie Fox

Online Helps & Tools

Axis.org – The Culture Translator

Center for Parent and Youth Understanding

Protecting Young Minds

Common Sense Media

Plugged In

Accountability Software & Services

Open DNS

Net Nanny

Circle Device

Covenant Eyes

 

Crosspoint Church is committed to partnering with parents to make disciples of all people for God’s glory. For more information about Crosspoint Church, family ministries, or upcoming events, visit Crosspoint Church.

 



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