We can walk into any gym or field of a child’s athletic game and find half the parents staring at their phones~texting, tweeting, facebooking. I’ll admit – I’m guilty too. I take my iPad to my son’s Karate class and I fit right in. All the parents are distant and distracted. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a child on the ground crying and I’ve scanned the row of moms wondering – where’s his mom? While the child cries – it feels like years pass until the distracted parent comes forward to comfort their child. The shells of parents are there but their minds are far from present.
While it’s easy to identify distant and distracted parents, this series has made me take a hard look at myself. I am guilty of checking my email way too often, being distracted by thoughts about “on-line drama”, and making my children wait patiently while I finish reading or writing something on-line.
My time spent on media IS affecting my parenting. My children’s time spent on media IS affecting my parenting. Generation X is now raising Generation iY. The landscape for parenting has changed but we must remember
Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
My children attended a virtual home school for the last two years so they are very computer savvy. It’s not uncommon to see my children on an iPad, DS, wii, computer or watching television. While they do none of these things excessively, they are a part of our daily lives and they seem innately capable of navigating their way through this maze of technology.
Here’s what generation iY are into:
1. Cell phones - Most teens would say a cell phone is vital to their lives. If your teen/tween doesn’t have one – most likely they are begging for one We can get in touch with our children when we need to – which is a great perk - but it comes at the danger of access to p*rn in their pocket, children texting rather than communicating with the people right next to them, children becoming distant and distracted from real life, s*xting (that’s sending an inappropriate photo of themselves to someone else), and texting and driving ~ just to name a few!
2. Social Media- this includes Facebook, MySpace, blogs and Twitter. It’s social – they can connect with their friends and follow good spiritual role models on-line. But if they are in the wrong crowd on social media, it can have a greater influence in a child’s thinking than their parents or church. Communication is fast. Our kids can write at a rapid pace using abbreviations and acronyms to communicate with brevity. It is very hard for parents to monitor this 24/7 access to peers, strangers and celebrity influences.
3. Music - this includes iTunes and Youtube. Music has always been a prime influence on the youth. The music of the youth shapes and molds their thinking and now it is at a touch of their fingertips! They can download a song in an instant. If they are making wise choices – this is a blessing. But if they are prone to having an appetite for the world’s pleasures this can be destructive.
4. Television - even after all the on-line access kids have - television still is a heavy influence. Some homes have nearly 900 channels. Shows such as Jersey Shore feed our children junk food for the mind.
5. Video Games – a majority of parents would say – “we know that this is a massive time waster for our children – but isn’t it wonderful how it keeps them busy, out of trouble and manageable!” I am not anti-video games - but I do fear it makes children lazy. Also, as boys grow older their appetite for violence and s*xual content in their games can grow as their tolerance levels grow.
1. We must be vigilant and aware of every form of media our children are involved in. If we don’t protect them, who will? It is our JOB as parents to know what our children are doing. Who are their friends on-line? What music choices are they making? Are they sneaking late at night in their beds on their cell phone and iPods? What songs are on their iPod? What channels need blocked on the television? Do we have filters on our internet? What video games are they playing?.
2. Know your child’s weak spot? Is it gossip - watch the social media and texting? Is it the desire for s*xual content – check their phones for s*xting, their on-line browsing history for p*rn sites, and their youtube choices? Is it anger and a thirst for violence? Monitor their video games and music on their iPod. Is it loneliness? Be sure they aren’t connecting with strangers ie. predators – to fill a void. Screen your children’s weak spots and MONITOR HEAVILY their media activities.
3. Redeem media. Train your children to use all these things for God’s glory. Encourage them to text a new friend from church or their brothers and sisters. Encourage them to put a verse or christian youtube on their facebook page. Have them invite non-Christian friends over to play video games to build a deeper relationship and pray for ways to witness to them. Help them start a blog where they share the light of Jesus. Encourage them to follow pastors and well known Christian writers on twitter so they can daily be spiritually encouraged by them.
We cannot monitor our children perfectly…and so this is where child training comes into play. We must help our children to have a Godly conscience that is convicted when they go out of bounds with media.
Tomorrow I will post Part 2 of Media and Our Parenting. I will cover my thoughts on how to train our children to handle media with wisdom and discernment.
But first, I want to hear your thoughts!
1. If you are a blogger and you have decided to join this series by blogging each week, please place the Media Mondays button somewhere on your blog so your readers can find us here and then link-up below. (if for some reason the code is not working for you – please – right click – save as – the Media Mondays button and link it to this post)
2.If you are not a blogger, join the discussion in the comment section! I look foward to hearing your thoughts.
3. If you use Facebook or Twitter, I want to encourage you to copy and paste this link from the browser on your status update and ask your friends to join the discussion.