10. Identify Your Personal Struggle with Technology – A Facebook mom recently caught herself. She’d do the daily chores- dressing and feeding the kids, cleaning the kitchen, etc. If she managed her time just right, she could plop the two older ones in front of a screen and grab her ½ hour of Facebook time while the baby slept. Here’s what she caught. Her kids were watching her do chores with drudgery but they also saw her light up in front of the blue screen. Her face came alive. And they learned….
9. Indirect Conversations – Our kid’s technology choices often create tension points. And the confrontations are often counterproductive. Remove the flashpoint by talking about other families and situations. Explore stricter homes and more lenient ones. These types of conversations get insulated a bit because the focus is ‘out there’ and not ‘in here.’ They are indirect talks and are often better shoulder-to-shoulder (when traveling in the car together) rather than face-to-face.
8. Limit And Replace – Limiting screen time is a huge responsibility for parents. But far too often we focus on limitations rather than replacement ideas. And this is where it gets tough. Since our kid’s reality is often in the virtual world, it feels punitive to them, like we’re downshifting their life from 5th gear to 2nd gear. If we say, “stop playing video games and go read a book,” it’s true. We’ve offered a replacement. But the comparison in their mind is lame. Get use to that feeling and to their initial reaction. It’s part of the challenge. The video games will produce a deadening effect in them whereas crossing something off their responsibility list will be empowering. The challenge is one of deferred gratification. We’re slowing down their dopamine release and getting them back into the real world of hard work and real gratification.
7. Focus On Unique Gender – Culture is sweeping us towards gender equity. This requires some extra work in the area of what is uniquely masculine and feminine. Get your one-liners down. For starters, borrow the following and try to make them better. “A real man steps into uncertainty rather than avoiding it.” “A real woman empowers people rather than attempting to control them.”
6. Make An Appointment – Find another mom or dad who get technology. How to set limits, how to shut off the router between 10pm-6am. How to monitor and regulate aggressive texters, how to turn various websites on and off. Which apps circumvent parent control and accountability? Which devices enable WiFi and which don’t. This brief post can get you started on which devices are age-appropriate for your kids. And make that appointment right now.
5. Hands-On Experience – The virtual places and spaces all compete for our kids’ attention. To achieve balance, adolescents need to get into the real world. Taking a machine apart, getting dirty with a shovel, learning how a pump works, climbing a tree, going for walks, driving a car before they’re 17, supplying wood for a camping trip, reading a physical book, raising something and keeping it alive, doing a mission trip. Here are some ideas for guys. The book Shop Class as SoulCraft is excellent on this topic.
4. Simplify Categories When Talking About Sex – Notice the complexity in the following list: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, experimenting, asexual. And the list goes on. But there are two biblical categories that our kids must become experts in understanding: 1) male and female (God created the roles in the beginning) and 2) procreation and pleasure (they are a package deal and cannot be separated). If you want a simple diagram to get your kids thinking, check out this chart. Now, re-read the complex list above using the two categories to evaluate them. Finally, consider using this question, “does God have authority over my sexuality?” It can launch a great discussion.
3. Travel – Trips continue to be an excellent disruption for adolescents. Since they are right in the middle of their worldview forming years, it’s imperative that they expand beyond their own technology control center. Many families are beginning to introduce ‘study abroad’ options to their high schoolers instead of waiting for college. They are customizing the experience through missionaries and service organizations where the parent is comfortable with the host family.
2. Hire Intermediate Influencers – Pray for specific people to cross paths with your son or daughter, people who are just a few years ahead of them and are working on their relationship with God. This will ultimately involve the misuse, abuse and correct use of technology. In some cases, it’ll be well worth some financial investment. Guitar lessons? Math tutor? Athletic trainer? Make an excuse and hire someone to help. In all likelihood they’ll say some of the same things you’ve been saying when all of a sudden it’ll make sense to your adolescent.
1. Be Authentic & Transparent In Your Technology – “Be the person you want your child to be, so that when they turn out like you, you’ll like who they’ve become.” Let them see your own struggles and victories in areas where technology grabs you. This stuff is far more “caught” than “taught.” Pick one of the following verses and drill it into your prayer life: 1) If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you (Js 1:5), 2) Be very careful, then, how you live- not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil (Eph 5:15), 3) And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ (Phil 1:9-10)
Our kids are just like us and therefore need three things in place regarding tech:
a. Limits and Filters b. Relationships of Accountability c. A Personal Desire to Change