Being a parent is tough! Anyone who has ever been responsible for the growth, well-being, development and protection of a child knows how challenging parental responsibilities can be. Let’s be honest, though, the benefits of parenting far outweigh the burdens. Can I get an amen?
One of the most difficult challenges facing parents today is the proliferation of the Internet and digital technology. What was non-existent in previous generations, has become a “necessity” in today’s families. Quite frankly, this is a new phenomena that parents are learning to navigate. Here are some recent statistics…
- The average American home has ten connected devices.
- American teenagers spend an “astounding” nine hours a day with digital technology.
- “Tweens” aged 8 to 12 are spending six hours with media.
- 46% of parents with small children say their child has encountered videos that were inappropriate for their age on YouTube.
At first glance those are startling statistics. Your first reaction may be to move off the grid and disconnect from everything digital, but that is not the most practical solution. Whether you like it or not, the digital world is here to stay. So, the question is not how to keep them from connecting, but rather, how do you disciple your kids so that God’s Word has greater influence than anything they may encounter in the digital world?
Be assured that in the coming weeks, we will discuss ways to protect your children. We will give recommendations as to filters and other resources that will greatly assist you. We will even share advice from children’s pastors and spiritual leaders. I believe all of that will be extremely helpful. But in this article, I would like to drive home one all important truth. Are you ready?
The discipleship of your kids begins with you.
In other words, you cannot teach your kids to be or do something that you yourself are not doing. I am afraid that too often we attempt to regulate the discipleship of our kids by demanding certain things and prohibiting others. Sadly, that never works. Our kids can see right through our hypocrisy. Here are a few practical recommendations as we begin this conversation.
1. Guard how much time YOU spend digitally connected.
You are probably thinking, “Brian, now you are getting personal.” Bear with me though. The best way to teach what is really important is to live it out. Here are a few practical tips.
- Put your phone down while at the dinner table.
- Don’t ignore your kids by spending hours scrolling through social media.
- Don’t randomly leave the television on all day.
Your phone actually monitors how much time you spend online. You may be shocked at how much time you are spending digitally connected. Do a personal evaluation and respond accordingly.
2. Be careful what you watch on television in front of your
Once again, the emphasis is on your being an example to your kids. If there are things your children should not see, then there are probably things you should not be watching as well. In Psalm 101:3 David said, “I will refuse to look at anything vile or vulgar.” Set some personal guidelines as to what you will watch and determine to live by them.
3. Be faithful in your Bible reading.
Some 50 years later, I still have vivid memories as a child of my dad reading his Bible. Reading your God’s Word in front of your children sends a powerful message to them. Obviously, I am not speaking of reading your Bible for show. But your example of spending time in Scripture is invaluable for children to see. Such a habit shows that the Bible is important to you and that you seek God’s guidance and direction. Remember…
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Moms and dads, you have been giving the all-important task of pointing your kids to Jesus. What a responsibility! Admittedly, such a responsibility has become more difficult in our digital world. But never minimize the importance of your personal example to your kids. Let me challenge you to live faithfully and trust the Holy Spirit to do a work of grace in their lives.
Next week – What tools are available to help you monitor and protect your kids from inappropriate digital content?