It started for us when our youngest was in kindergarten. “Hey dad, my friend has an I-Pod. Can I get one?” Before I could even get my mind in a place to answer the question I needed to come to grips with the reality of 5 year olds with I-Pods. What are they doing with them? What music are they listening to? Why would any adult give their 5-year-old an expensive piece of technology?
Once I pulled myself together I said, “no.” At that point he was content with the answer. He is now in 4th grade and there are kids in his class with i-Phones. I wonder now who it is they are calling and who desires to give their 9-year-old a smart phone with a data plan? Where does the madness end?
Now I know I sound mean and out of touch. I assure you I am not against technology, in fact I have a smart phone of my own. I do understand that appeal of the technology, I mean who doesn’t like to play Subway Surfers or Angry Birds? But I do have real concerns when parents hand over the internet to their child with no apparent oversight. Their innocent clicking on some sort of video or link could lead them to a place that no parent wants their child to be. So, we have had to come up with some ways to help our kids navigate this media draw.
Demonstration – Our answer has been to demonstrate wise media use and let our children play games on devices we have control of so that there are no accidental encounters with things we don’t willingly bring into our home. We make the choice to avoid video games that are violent, sticking to sports or other fun family games. I don’t play games I don’t want my kid to play. I believe the example does make a difference.
Oversight – We do not have computers in bedrooms and do not allow our kids to play on the computer without our oversight. It is not that we don’t trust our kids, but rather that we don’t trust people putting things on the internet supposedly for kids. Call me old-fashioned all you want but the battle is for the mind. We have an obligation to help our children stay away from things that will distort their mind.
Saying No and Limiting Time – This is not some sort of break-through concept, but it is a necessary idea to come to grips with. I have no issue with kids playing games or using certain electronic devices. What I think is problematic is the lack of any real boundaries. My kids will beg me to play games on my Nook or phone, but I limit it to only a few times in a week. It seems like they enjoy the time they do have more this way and they find other things to do with each other. If I did not ever provide boundaries, they would play on these things every waking moment. That does not lend itself to a healthy worldview.
Not Comparing – Every family needs to make choices for their families. I know it is easy to look at someone and criticize them for their choices, but how helpful is that? I would rather invest my energy in helping my children make wise media choices while choosing godliness. There is far more at stake here than rules on video game use.
As it relates to so many things, here is a verse that seems to come up a lot when communicating with children.
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age,” Titus 2:11-12
It is possible to make wise choices, say no to ungodliness and say yes to things of God. Let’s do our part to steer our kids to God in everything!