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What you are saying about Managing Technology with our kids

Posted Nov 29 2012 7:39am

Today I’m posting some tips and information I’ve gathered from many of you. I’ve sent emails and asked for input from a broad group of Christian families about these topics and these are some  key things I’ve walked away with. Please keep in mind that these posts are designed to offer some food for thought…..not to judge parent’s choices in when and how they incorporate technology in their families. So take it with a grain of salt. I have prayed over this series and asked God to give all of us wisdom and insight as we approach this stuff with our families. Cuz let’s just face it….our kids are being exposed to things we never had to grapple with as kids.

Technology Tips & Guidelines to consider while training our kids through the wise use of technology:

  • Turn the Wifi off on your child’s device. You can do this under “settings”. This can be done on any device your child may have.
  • Take You Tube off your child’s device and only let them use You Tube when you are monitoring on your own computer, tablet, etc.
  • Create a separate account with your own password for the App Store on your child’s device and then monitor when they scroll through games, apps, etc. You be the one to download apps for them.
  • Know your child’s passwords and make the requirement that they have to tell you their password and no changing it unless they tell you what it is.
  • You can have everything on your child’s phone sent to your phone (texts, emails, etc – see service carrier about this plan)
  • Set up blocks and install filters on your computer and phones. I’m still learning a lot about this. Our Youth Pastor has done research on this and will actually be conducting a parent forum in the near future so I’m excited about learning more from him about this subject for our family.
  • Have a phone curfew for your kids and stick to it. Ten minutes late turning it in? Then they lose it the next day. And most likely the next day they’re not going to be late turning it in. 
  • Remember that having a phone, ipod, ipad is not a right for your child. It is a privilege and with privilege comes responsibility.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re invading your child’s privacy by monitoring their phone, setting up boundaries on their electronic devices, etc.

*One Christian counselor reminded us in a parenting class once, “Your kids have no rights other than the basic Physical (food, clothing, shelter, medical care) Emotional (attachment between parent and child) and Developmental (education, special help for children with disabilities) needs until they are 18 years old.” Of course we could make a strong case for love and nurturing based on scripture but by law did you know you only have to provide these basic needs for your children? Yeah, you can pull that one out the next time they beg and plead they’re about to have an emotional breakdown because they don’t have an i5. And throw away the notion that you’re invading your child’s privacy by checking their phone or requiring passwords because they have no rights to “privacy” under your roof. Of course we want to respect our children and help them transition from being strongly guided and protected by parents to being self sufficient by the time they’re 18 but when they are kids lets treat them like kids. I will be posting a piece later this week about keeping the “little” in our kids.

Basic Technology Etiquette:

  • Train your kids to be respectful while playing their handheld devices – if an adult speaks to them while they are playing they should pause the device and make eye contact and use their words to communicate. When the conversation is over they may go back to playing. Live and present people always always always take precedence over devices and should be respected with the courtesy of acknowledgement and eye contact. 
  • Let’s admit that as parents we love these devices at restaurants, right? But instead of handing off our phones to the kids ASAP and immediately engage in long awaited adult conversation lets teach them to wait and speak to the waiter. Acknowledge the people around them and then hand over the phone if you are letting them do that. We are trying to incorporate this principle as a family and sometimes we let them have the handheld devices and many times we don’t because we want to be able to have a meal without electronic interruptions all the time. We also don’t want them to think that every single “waiting or still moment” has to be filled with a game, status update or texting.  Have purposeful conversations that remind them to be present in the moment with those real live people around them.
  • Monitor the time you allow your child to spend on their electronic devices. Set time limits and enforce them. A friend told me this week in relation to parenting through technology, “It’s so much easier to add than to take away technology privileges.” Meaning if you hand over a fully pimped out iphone, ipod, iwhatever and give unrestrained time limits on technolocy  with all the latest and greatest apps then it’s harder to move up to anything. And expectations are being set early on to have a fully loaded whatever. 

*I’ve spent time with parents and teens who have developed such an addiction to their phones, games, ipods that depression sets in when the parent takes away or threatens to take away the phone for punishment. I’m not saying parents shouldn’t take away the phone/electronic device but if we can help our kids manage their time on these devices then we can help steer them away from the dangers of addiction to these things. Addiction may sound like strong term but it’s not. It’s exactly what’s happening to kids, teens and adults every single day. They are becoming enslaved to electronic devices that are consuming their time and thoughts. So the earlier we can talk about these things and train our children in these things the better.

Basic Uploading Etiquette:

  • Teach your child that it’s never ever appropriate to post pictures of himself/herself in his/her underwear, bathroom shots, showing too much skin, etc.  Yep, that’s specific and seems no brainer-ish but if you  knew what Christian kids are passing around on their phones, uploading on you tube and putting on facebook you wouldn’t hesitate to talk about these things in such a specific way.
  • Teach your child to never upload pictures of someone else without first asking permission.
  • Teach you child that a picture posted is never contained to that one site.
  • Let your child know that a screen is not an excuse to say things he or she would never say to someone’s face. A screen (phone, computer, facebook, etc) seems to give a newfound freedom for venting, using hostile words and for posting things we’d never be caught dead posting if our Mama’s were around. We have a God who loves us, who is ever present and with us and He sees everything. He actually cares about what we tweet, post and say on facebook because those things come out of our heart. They are either building up or tearing down. Bringing glory to God or to ourselves.

*Imagine if our kids learned early on how to bring glory to God through all their technology. It’s happening out there – kids are proclaiming God’s goodness. They are using technology to raise money for orphans and are gathering communities  of online believers and encouraging them to go out and serve Him. And this is how satan is defeated – when we use something man made and turn it back for God’s glory. Because we have to know satan is trying desperately to use it for his own glory. And he’s getting a lot of it right now. So let’s not allow him to win in our families!

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