What comes to mind when we think of today’s technology and electronic media?
Generally, here are the top 5 things that came to MY mind:
Smart phones. Computer. Gadgets. Online games. Internet.
While technology and electronic media can be useful and helpful, the reality is, we see an increase in its negative impacts, especially in our children’s lives.
Regardless of the family’s beliefs and values, soooo many children today spend many hours a day staring at flat screens.
Some boys play online games like Grand Theft Auto (GTA) and go about stealing cars, killing police officers, committing crime and adultery, etc.
And girls, well … girls as young as 8yo play games where they create online boyfriends, then flirt, kiss, dress up and go out on dates with them.
The challenges parents face are real and toughAnd, we see children as young as 4 years old browsing YouTube videos freely. On their own.
We see more and more children nagging their parents for more time on electronic devices.
It’s a mad, mad world we live in today, and the challenges parents face are real and tough.
Now, I don’t know if you’re a person of faith.
I am. I choose to place my faith in Christ. But anyway, REGARDLESS of our personal belief, here’s one question I feel we should ask ourselves: are we as parents today aware of the potential danger of it all and are we willing to do something to control our children’s exposure to technology and electronic media?
Let’s think about this together and reflect on our own family values as we ponder on these three thoughts.
1. Awareness of the Potential Danger
While it is true that children can learn and gain knowledge from today’s technology, many parents unfortunately fail to see the serious danger that their children are exposed to, IF they are not guided and supervised.
Most of the time, young kids don’t search for bad websites, bad websites find them!Without realising the potential danger, many parents allow their children to:
– Own a mobile phone, gadget, electronic devices since young.
Some children, as young as 3 years old, are given their ‘own’ tablets, to keep them ‘entertained’ at the dinner table and when out and about with the family. Communication and interaction between family members and friends are greatly reduced as the result.
– Surf the internet freely without much guidance.
Some naive parents say, ‘Our kids are good kids. They only watch cartoons and play children games. They sure won’t go into bad websites, right?’ Most of the time, young kids don’t search for bad websites. Bad websites find them when our children key in even the safest keywords on the internet!
Many parents also feel they are too busy to be involved in their children’s world and interests– Download games without permission nor supervision.
Other than trusting the internet too much (and not keeping themselves updated on the development of technology), many parents also feel they are too busy to be involved in their children’s world and interests.
– Use electronic devices to play games for many hours each day.
They are believed to be great babysitters in keeping the children entertained and quiet.
Children are so easily influenced by what the world has to offer.
(Us included too, actually)
They are exposed to all sorts of philosophies and worldviews.
If we are Christian parents and we fail to see the potential danger of technology and electronic media, we most likely would wonder why our children turn twenty or twenty-five and say, “I’m not interested in Christian things anymore.”
Why are our children not interested?
Most likely it’s because they are responding to the appetite that WE have encouraged.
If they are allowed to consume ‘worldly food’ regularly (and often on a high daily dose), that is what shapes them, and that is what they will prefer to continually consume.
(It’s made worse if they do not have a loving home, nor a close relationship with their parents)
In the past, we could guard our house so much easier than we could today.
Today, the enemy can come through our walls invisibly, through the wireless!
Temptations that drive our children away from godly thoughts and godly living can come through their mobile phones and electronic devices. In the comfort of their home, children may be exposed to vulgarity, obscenity, violence, pedophiles or even criminals.
Parents, the danger is real, inside and outside our home.
> Our children should not be ‘isolated’ from the world
Some parents believe that that in order to protect their children from the negative impacts of today’s technology and electronic media, they need to remove access altogether.
No smart phones. No internet access. No gadgets.
We live in this world, and we WILL be exposed to the good and bad whether we like it or not
But is this how we should do it?
Is this what the Bible wants us to do as Christian parents? To put our children in a closet and raise them without any consciousness of what’s going on in the world?
We live in this world, and we WILL be exposed to the good and bad whether we like it or not.
Romans 12:2 says:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
I feel the word we should highlight, is the word ‘discern’.
Real freedom involves a choice and self-controlSomeone once said, ‘In Singapore, chewing gum is banned. The people in Singapore are free from the temptation of chewing gum because the whole country has banned the sale of it. But that’s not real freedom, is it? They do not chew any gum because they are NOT allowed to, not because they choose not to. Real freedom involves a choice and self-control.’
As Christian parents, we are called NOT to remove our children from the world, but to consistently teach them how to ‘discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect’.
We are called to equip our children with the Truth, with God’s Word.
They need to see what the world is, as well as how and when its offers are against the will of God. They need to learn to discern what is good and bad in God’s eyes, learn to flee temptation and humbly come to the Lord to repent whenever they make wrong choices.
We need to teach (and live out the principles ourselves) that self-control in our lives should not just be an outward behavioural self-control, but also an inward surrendering to Christ, our Lord.
3. Controlling our children’s exposure to the Media
– The TV
What TV programmes or movies do our children watch?
Our TV really must NOT be on without us being aware of what’s being shown. There are children programmes that display hatred towards siblings and disrespect towards parents. Even cartoons that we think are harmless, they could promote messages that are so subtle that are against Christ and against the Bible.
Parents often forget that they are the ones who buy and fund the whole thing– Tablets and gadgets (eg. iPad, iPod, Music)
Parents often complain about their children’s difficult behavior and about the kinds of exposure their children are getting from the tablets and gadgets in their hands.
The problem with this is, these parents forget that they are the ones who buy and fund the whole thing!
Many parents allow games to be downloaded and played, including those that are not age-appropriate, and those that promote violence and vanity. Some others, they allow their children to freely download whatever games and apps without checking what they are about.
Also, many are simply not aware of the kinds of music their children are listening too (ie. Are the songs filled with vulgarities, immoralities, etc?)
Many parents allow their children to freely browse the internet and YouTube videos, all on their own!– The internet and YouTube
It is shocking to see how many parents, including Christian parents, allow their children to freely browse the internet and YouTube videos, all on their own!
When children browse the internet freely, they can – at ANYTIME – be exposed to texts and images that are totally NOT age-appropriate. For example, links to trashy websites and obscene images may appear on their screen, even though they have used ‘clean and seemingly safe’ keywords on Google and YouTube.
And once ‘rubbish’ is absorbed through what they see, hear and read, it is unfortunately impossible to ‘erase’.
Phew. There you go.
I just shared what I personally believe parents today should do and be aware of.
(And what ‘I’ personally should learn to do and watch out for as a Christian parent)
Frankly, I feel it’s tough being a parent today.
The challenges are many and real, and the enemy is right in our homes too!
Fellow parents wherever you are,
may I humbly ask that we all reflect upon the values that we teach our children and the habits that we have allowed to develop all this time?
Let’s set our family standards since the children are very young so they don’t think that their parents are just being mean and ‘unfair’ when we have to say ‘No’ to what they want.
(Having a 12yo in the house, I totally see the importance of being consistent, loving as well as the need to ‘build relationships and set family standards’ since day one!)
Be a blessing and a living example to themFinally. This is what I tell myself again and again:
Our children need our guidance, our presence and our time.
We need to bond and connect with them since day one.
We need to pray for them.
And if you share the same faith as me, we need to live out our Christian faith too, be a blessing and a living example to them.
It’s (very) hard to do, given our daily busyness and our own ‘weaknesses’ and faults.
But as they say, it’s so hard to do, but it’s not impossible.
May God give us the wisdom and perseverance we need every day, and may God’s grace and mercy be upon us and all our children.