Teens and the use of Technology

As parents and adults who work with teenagers we have grown continually fearful of how technology has become an enormous part of our teens’ lives. We have heard the horror stories, watched the news stories, heard about the statistics and all of it seems overwhelming to us as we desire to help and protect our students. As a result, I hope this might help give us a good perspective to approach this issue and some practical ways to help and protect out students.
To begin, we should look at what God tells us about our students and our roles as parents. Take a moment to read Psalm 127:3-4. We must continually remember that our children are a gift or reward to us. Despite the way you might feel at times while your child is going through adolescence your child is a wonderful gift that God gives you and we must remember and claim that truth.
This begs the question, why does God give me this gift? Read Malachi 2:15 which addresses this question. God has given you children to steward and raise as godly offspring. The greatest place for evangelism and discipleship is in your home, and that is God’s plan. Well obviously that is easy to say but we know difficult to do, take a look at the following verses to see how you can be a good steward of your children and raise Godly offspring. Proverbs 22:6, Proverbs 29:17, Proverbs 29:15, Proverbs 20:7, Deuteronomy 11:18-22.
Obviously this is not a complete list of scripture referring to raising children but it does give us a basis to look at dealing with our teens and technology. As we see in these passages we need to walk in integrity ourselves, teach our teens at all given opportunities, discipline, and protect them. In the Jewish world and thought there is no such thing as compartmentalized faith or religion. Your faith is who you are and it leads and guides you in all of who you are; as a result you teach and demonstrate the truth of God in all areas of life. In recent years, life has changed and altered how we live, work, and communicate and it is important for us to teach our children in all areas that life brings us.
1. We should protect our children from the harm that can come from using technology incorrectly.
2. We should train them up and teach them about Godly living even in regard to their use of technology.
3. We should show them through our lifestyle of integrity what that looks like.
4. We should be honest with them about our intentions to take every means necessary to protect them, to guide them to truth, and to correct them when necessary.
5. We must follow through with discipline when necessary because of our love for our children and because that is a necessary part of being a good steward of your children.

OK, that is all great, BUT how do I actually do that? I am not an expert but I do have a few ideas that for you to consider of how we can help our students navigate this changing world filled with technology. First, we must determine to take the time to guide and protect our students even if they do not think they need guiding or protecting.
When discussing computers I would recommend that you spend some time looking at these sites to learn about how students abuse the computer and some features you can use to protect them. http://www.xxxchurch.com, http://www.familyfirst.net, http://www.internetsafety.com,
http://www.thinkyouknow.com, http://www.safefamilies.org. XXX.XXXchurch.com is the best place to start, you will find much useful information and some great monitoring programs you can use to track what sites are being visited by your student, how much time they are spending on the computer, what times of the day they are on the computer, etc. This will take time but protect your students by tracking where they have been, use the parent blocker programs on your computer or get a new one to not allow them on certain sites. They need your protection and guidance.
Specifically in regard to myspace.com and facebook.com we must first learn what the sites are and how to use them. These sites are not the devil and they can be used effectively and be great resources, but like anything then can be used for evil also. Sign up for an account, play around on it and see how it works, and talk to you students about it. This is the most important thing, we must communicate with our students, this information is not to improve our spy tactics, the New England Patriots and the CIA are not looking to hire us. It is for guiding and protecting our children; talk with them about these sites, and talk with them up front about how you are going to guide and protect them and what the consequences will be if you find something that needs disciplining. In addition, always make sure you have all of your students’ passwords to anything they might have, login to their computer, facebook, myspace, phone, etc. It is not their right to privacy, it is our God given job to guide and protect them, even when they fight it they need you.
Another major area of concern among parents and adults is the way students communicate via text messages. Just like facebook and myspace, text messaging is not a bad thing; however, in the adolescent world it is frequently being abused. While text messages can be very convenient and helpful in many ways they can also be opportunities for inappropriate conversations and can play a part in students avoiding deep meaningful relationships and conversations. Here are my recommendations for addressing the text message challenge with your students.
To begin, learn how to use your student’s phone. On most cell phone provider’s websites you can use an interactive tool to learn how to use the functions (such as texting) on your student’s phone. If that is too difficult or you are unable to find that feature then take their phone with you to one of your cell phone provider’s stores and ask them to show you how to use the text message features including the inbox, sent, saved, and deleted messages. Remember you are paying for their service, do not be afraid to ask them for help, they can show you right there while you press the buttons. Then develop a plan of action and share your plan with your student including the consequences.
A plan that makes sense to me is once a week, lets say Monday for fun, your students leaves their cell phone on the kitchen counter after dinner. That evening you look through their text messages to hold them accountable and make a note of about how many text messages you find. If you find something inappropriate, speak to your students and find out what is going on and as the passages that we read earlier shared with us discipline your student. Take away their phone for however long, remember we all grew up without cell phones and we are still here, your student will survive without one too. Continue this each week and when your next bill comes in look at how many text messages they used and if it lines up with how many you looked at, this is how you will find out if they are erasing messages. Tell them all of this upfront, that develops communication and trust, and then if they are deleting messages take away their phone. After you give them their phone back start the process again. If they respond to your challenge and do not have inappropriate conversations and are not deleting messages then find a way to reward them. Maybe only check every other week, maybe do something special for them, they need to experience consequences for their actions both positive and negative. I know this takes a lot of time but I think you will find it well worth it, in addition, know ahead of time they will probably hate this idea. When they complain about it, you can just blame it on me. Another way you can enhance this idea is if you make the same deal with them, again this goes back to the passages we read about our integrity. Allow them to read your text messages and see how you are communicating, if you do not text then allow them to read your emails. If you are willing to show your students your integrity it will be a great blessing to them.
You may have gotten to this part and feel as overwhelmed as when you started, but I truly believe if you give these ideas a try you will slowly begin to see the reward. If you have any further questions about any of this or need some help talking through some of these things please contact me via email jcarlettini@fbcboerne.org or call me at the church office 830-249-2527 to set up an appointment, it would be my pleasure to help you and team with you as you pursue being a good steward of your students and specifically in the area of technology.
May God bless you and guide you as you walk through all areas of life with your children. May He give you an abundance of wisdom, strength, courage, endurance, mercy, kindness, and humor as you take on the difficult task of leading your child to Godliness. May Jesus Christ reward you with peace and patience as you walk with your children through the valleys, the mountain tops, and everything in between. May God increase your productiveness as you give more of your time to protecting and guiding your children in all areas of life, and may you find peaceful rest at the end of each day knowing that when the day is done you demonstrated Jesus to your children through the good and the bad. Above all, may you always find Jesus when you search for Him with all your heart, and may that always be enough for you.

  1. January 18, 2008 at 6:37 am

    yeah, i’ve realized that after being in the word the past couple of days. i really do like reading what i’m reading, but it’s one of those “feel gooders”, and when i started reading it was taking over a lot of my time, so i read Jeremiah 4:1-4 to get myself back in check. but yeah, i’ll probley get books that are a little less secularized (sp?) now.

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