Kids and Technology

Here’s a question I was asked most recently in South Africa, but which I’ve been asked all over the world: What can you say about that tricky relationship between kids and technology? This is something we grapple with just about every day!

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How have you raised your kids with regard to technology?

Yes, it is a difficult challenge to raise kids in the internet age and especially right here at the cusp of it. So I’m assuming our children or our children’s children will have a bit of an easier time with it because this technology will have developed. Because people will have a better understanding of how it functions. I mean, just think about social media, how Facebook began, and we’re all like, hey, I’ve got to tell Facebook absolutely everything about myself and now a few years later we’re all thinking, oh no, what have I done, now they know everything about me and they’re selling that to everybody. And, you know, so we learn these things as we go and that’s just part of a new medium coming along.

So, we’re sort of the first generation to have to do that. We’re the first generation to really have to raise our children in that. So I think there’s a lot of inevitable mistakes we’re going to make. A lot of ways, our children will probably have to forgive us someday, but in the meantime, I think we’re doing the best, we’ve got to do the best we can simply to understand what these technologies mean, what they’re doing and how to manage them well. So, I think at the foundational level, parents have to have the freedom to decide what’s appropriate for their children in terms of what devices they have, what access to those devices they have, what apps they can use on those devices, what amount of time they can use those things. I think that’s all things parents have to decide and to decide prayerfully and within the realm of a conscience. And then to just live boldly before the Lord.

So there may be some people who decide their children will have full access to devices, others may decide, very, very limited. We’ve got to have freedom within the Christian world to say, God bless you as you do that, God bless me as I do this. And we’re both trusting that the Lord will bless us as we go. Much the same as we decide if our children are going to go, what kind of school they’re going to go to and so on. Just freedom within the Christian world. For all that, I think as parents we have a big responsibility to protect our children. I mean, we have to disciple our children. Part of discipling our children is to disciple them to live in a world like this one. So we can’t pretend we’re in the last world, the world of books and magazines. Like, our kids are growing up in a technological, a digital world. We’ve got to teach and train them to live in this world. So that means displaying good things before them, not being addicted to our devices, not using them compulsively, showing self-control. It means helping our kids grow.

So, for us in our family, that means we’re giving you limited access for things. As you prove yourself, we’ll give you greater access to things. The idea is, by the time you go to college at 18 and a half years old, you’re on your own, and hopefully, I’ve taught and trained you enough that you’ll be okay. I compare using our devices to driving a car, right, you don’t just hand your child the keys to the car and say, go figure this thing out and go on a road trip and do whatever you want. You teach them, you train them. If they do something crazy, you say, no, you can’t drive by yourself right now, and you just, over time, you lead them how to use that thing well and then you set them free with it. I really think our devices have to function that way too, as parents, just take ownership, help your kids, disciple your kids. Teach them how to use them well, teach them how to use them for the glory of God. Really, teach them they can be used for the glory of God, and that’s our responsibility as believers in this world. How is this, this thing right here, how is this helping me love others and in that way bring glory to God? That’s my calling in the world, so how am I going to use this spectacular device, which is such a brilliant innovation. I can use it for such evil, I can use it for such good. So how will I use it for good? I think that’s the choice we’ve got before us, each and every day, the way we need to disciple our children.