Roman 12:1-2

"Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." Romans 12:1-2

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

kids and tech

I grew up in the age of cassette tapes and Atari and VCRs as the newest big thing. I remember getting Nintendo for Christmas one year -- gray and purple, it came with Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt. I can still hear the song in my head. Can't you?

Today's generation has i-this and i-that, facebook and twitter, and short snippets of thought have become the communication pattern of the day. Technology is changing so fast, and we adults sometimes feel left out. We marvel at the speed of which their little thumbs can hammer out a message or their young minds can absorb the process of uploading their goofy videos. Some of us marvel...some of us shrug...some of us give up and say, "I'll never get it, so I'll let my kid program the icloud." 

Yesterday I participated in a Bible study that is working through Chip Ingram's video series titled "House or Home?" The series itself is very good (I always enjoy Chip), but yesterday's session was especially challenging. It was on kids and technology. Chip actually had his son Ryan present the information, because Ryan has struggled, in his own life, with the videos and ideas and images that the internet makes so easily accessible to all of us.

So many adults struggle with internet pornography. Why do we think children or young adults, as bundles of hormones with poor impulse control, will not?

That's where the marveling and the shrugging and the giving up are so dangerous. Not to us, but to our kids.

Ryan surveyed the young people he leads regularly, mostly college age students, young people who have passed through the turmoil and identify-forming rebellion of the teen years and successfully come out the other side. Successfully, because they made it, but perhaps not all of them are unscathed. These young people, surprisingly, said they wished their parents had kept a closer eye on their internet use....they wished their families had spent time together without electronics. These young people are eager for mentoring relationships. They know how to download something from the cloud, but what about planning a meal and the budget to go with it? They know how to flash-type a tweet, but they can't communicate with someone across the table.

Teens will balk at that. They will insist they like it that way. Who needs your old-fashioned modes of communication, anyway?

But less than ten years later, those same teens have become young adults and they desire the very things they pushed against before. Isn't that always the way it is? We don't want mom and dad to teach us how to budget...we just want to spend the money...until we get that first credit card and realize the heartache that goes with such behavior. We don't want personal responsibility....we just want to be with our friends...until we are married and have kids ourselves and realize we're clueless.

And the internet, with its pervasive illicit images and easy accessibility is no different. They say they want it, and they know what they're doing, and we should leave them alone...until they realize they have sacrificed something good for something immediate.




After the video, the 8 of us sat and discussed our kids and their tech devices. Someone shared about how her 13 year old daughter was the victim of sexting by a boy on her swim team. She didn't tell her mom; I suspect she was embarrassed and ashamed, even though she had done nothing wrong. Her mother often, randomly, checks her phone and her facebook and her iPad, etc., and has made the rule that mom MUST have every password, and if she tries to check and can't get in, daughter is in trouble. A good policy to have, seeing as how this boy forced a conversation that the daughter over-and-over typed, "Don't say stuff like that." And yet, as tech savvy as this girl is, she didn't have the wisdom or the skills to get away from the situation.

They know technology. That doesn't mean they are wise. 

Proverbs 2 says:

My son, if you accept my words
    and store up my commands within you,
 turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding
 indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,
 and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,

then you will understand the fear of the Lord

    and find the knowledge of God.
 For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
 He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
 for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.
 Then you will understand what is right and just
    and fair—every good path.
 For wisdom will enter your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.
 Discretion will protect you,
    and understanding will guard you. 

This applies perfectly to technology, doesn't it? If our children and our young people are taught God's commands, His Words found in Scripture, and if they are given a godly example to follow, then God will be their shield. As they are cruising around in cyberspace, He will protect their way. X-out, walk away, shut it off. Find an actual human being to talk to about it. He will allow them to follow every good path, and knowledge will be pleasant, not life-shattering or addictive or violating. Discretion will protect them.

But they must be taught. Let them have our wisdom, won through years and experience. Don't let them learn it the hard way if they can help it. If we can help it. 

My challenge to you is this: learn the technology. Stay up on it, for your children's sake. Don't take the easy path, for that way lies destruction.