Kids and Technology (Finding the Balance)

Kids and Technology

Can I play Minecraft on the ipad?

Lydia wants to know if she can do Starfall on your computer?
Can we play Wii for 15 min.?
Can I text Anna back because she asked a question?
After dinner can we watch a show tonight?
David asked if I can follow him on Instagram?

My nightmare.
Well, one of them anyway.

There are times when I’d love to just get rid of it all.
There’s a reason I returned the iphone my husband bought me a couple of years ago.
I have a definite love-hate-relationship with technology and all things screen-ish.
And yes, I get the irony of sharing this in a post as I type away staring at a screen.
My tendency would be to bury my head in the sand and just wish it’d all go away.

But—there has to be a balance—right?
And that’s part of our job—
To help our children find the balance and to help them learn how to keep it,
To help them learn to use technology and all things media for the glory of God.

First We Must Look at Avoiding the Dangers and Negative Impacts of Technology:

1) Overuse:
There’s a definite tendency for overuse. And that’s a real possibility for all of us. Screen attachment can become a borderline addiction (or real for some) and we must set limits when it comes to using technology and screen time.  The balance will be different for every family and should be age appropriate.

Exceptions are made as needed, but in general, as a family, we have some guidelines that have eliminated the need for constant decision making about usage.  When it comes to television, we watch a weekly show together on Thursday nights and then after evening chores are complete, our crew is allowed to watch something for half an hour while we are waiting for dad to get home (for us that is 6 to 6:30). Unless it’s a special occasion– online games or Wii games are reserved for the weekends and this has eliminated the requests for permission that were driving me bonkers.  For now, we also have decided that devices will not travel with the kids to most social functions (church, Bible study, friends’ houses etc.).

I’m not at all suggesting this is what every family should do, but the point is to have an actual usage plan.

2) Safety:
Dangers lurk on every corner when it comes to technology and this is an important discussion to have with our children.  As parents we need to explain why it’s important to never share personal information or open emails/photos from strangers and why downloads need to have approval.

There is wisdom in keeping computers and devices centrally located and for putting safeguards in place to protect our children.  Pornography is just one unintentional click away.  We must make safety a priority.
This recent article has excellent suggestions specific to creating a porn-free family plan.

In our home, our kids’ profiles must be kept private and they are not allowed to accept friend requests from people they don’t know.  And until they are a bit older and wiser, we’ve asked them not to search and click on unknown sites without our permission.  A central family docking station, ensures that all devices are accounted for.  Open communication is huge when it comes to safety…our children need to feel comfortable coming to us if something negative happens online whether intentional or unintentional.

3) Costly Words:
Words have the ability to cause great damage and it’s so easy to quickly make a comment online without realizing the hurtful impact.  It is important to explain that a text, email, comment, or post is often irretrievable and that “when there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).  As a family, studying James is a great place to start when discussing how death and life are in the power of the tongue.

4) Missed Opportunities:
The choice to engage in screen time is also a choice to not do something else. Technology often replaces good conversation and face to face relationship building. It can isolate family members from one another and it can lead to a loss of other interests.  When we start noticing that our children are choosing screen time regularly over other activities, that’s usually when we implement a technology Sabbath.

5) Lack of Courtesy:
It’s also important to stress courtesy when it comes to all things screen.  And sometimes it’s as simple as the basics– when you are in the company of someone else, it’s unkind to be glued to your phone.  If there’s any opportunity for conversation, it’s rude to not make eye contact and engage.  These are words we must preach to ourselves as well.

docking station

Then We Must Encourage the Positive Aspects of Technology:

1) Building relationships and friendships:
Technology creates a wonderful opportunity for building connections and encouraging others.  If we can help our children view it in this light, technology can be a blessing in their lives and in the lives of others.  We want to help them consider:  Who can I encourage with my comments?  What friendships can I strengthen by online connections?  What family members or friends can I reach out to?

2) Developing Skills/Creativity:
Creativity is limitless when it comes to technology and it’s important to encourage our children to develop skills in this area.  Many excellent typing, programming, and coding programs are available.  Our boys enjoy stop motion and creating videos.  All of our children enjoy photography.  These are skills and interests that God can use in their lives and we want to encourage their curiosity and delight in these areas.

3) Sharing the Gospel:
Technology offers incredible opportunities for sharing about Jesus’ rescue mission to save us, bring us forgivingness and how He made a way for us to live in deep, real relationship with God.  We want our children to approach technology with a heart to “(make) the most of every opportunity” (Eph. 5:16).

4) Keeping us in the tension:
It might be easier to just do away with it all, but instead we have to listen for God’s whisper that we may be out-of-balance or over-balanced or missing– Balance.

It might be simpler if God just gave us Commandment #11– Do not use Facebook.
But instead, He gives us a relationship where we must come to Him regularly, willing to lay it all, all the techno-everything-options, at His disposalTechnology and all things “screen” create this opportunity for our children as well.

I am sure there are many other positives and negatives that I haven’t considered…
And I’d love to hear your thoughts or suggestions below in the comments.

For now though, I’ll just admit that I did eventually get a smartphone.
Smile.
And truthfully, I use it, enjoy it, and find it very helpful.
But it’s a constant battle to keep the balance.

And it’s in that place of tension that I want our children to stay…
Where they are constantly asking–

How can I use this _________ (insert your device of choice) to bring glory to God?

Our God is a God who redeems.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” ~Psalm 24:1

With Love,
Kara @ The Chuppies

This post is part of our series Finding Balance as a Busy Mom. 

Please check the series page for all of the posts! 

Finding Balance as a Busy Mom

When Silence is Not Golden

Silence

I remember the first time I heard Mary’s story.
I had a knot in my stomach and angry, hot tears streamed down my face.
I couldn’t believe that someone could hurt a child like that.
And that others knew but did nothing to protect her.

I’d rather not talk about it–
sexual abuse.

I’d rather not know that according to CDC statistics:
–Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men report experiencing rape.
–A 2011 survey of high school students found that 11.8% of girls and 4.5% of boys reported being sexual abused.

Or that according to the National Center for Victims of Crimes:
–1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.
–Children are most vulnerable to sexual abuse between the ages of 7 and 13.

Sexual abuse is not something I have experienced first hand, but statistically many of you reading this have.
Many.
And many of you who have shared your story (or not) have been met with silence.
And silence has a way of speaking volumes.

As a former English teacher, I love words.
Words create and convey and communicate meaning beyond their literality.

For instance, when someone asks me where “Lydia’s real mom lives?”
The question has adoption-parent-child-relationship-implications, that communicate much more than just a simple question of location.
I am her real mom.

An empty, silent crib shouts painful echoes of heartache.
A frozen “I’m sorry” has the potential to thaw the marriage battle. Or not.

Word choice is important. But so are pauses. So is silence.

Because silence is not always golden.

“If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would’ve lived in the land of silence.” ~Psalm 94:17

And so we tell our children, over and over…
If you hear someone being hurtful to someone else, it is your responsibility to stick up for the wounded, to encourage, to come along side–

Because silence has the power to unintentionally condone cruelty.

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know…” ~William Wilberforce

I just recently finished reading Mary Demuth’s new book, Not Marked.
I read it because I care about Mary, because I want to understand as best I can how to support the friends I have who were sexually abused, and also because I want to prevent our children from experiencing that same kind of pain.

As a mama, I so appreciated Mary’s wisdom about ways to protect our children from sexual abuse because as she states, “every crime needs these two elements.  A perpetrator has to want to abuse, and there needs to be a victim in proximity” (Not Marked  pg. 223).

She goes on to share several suggestions that may help parents protect their children, “while still letting them be children” (pg. 226).

#1) Know Your Child–

“The best defense in protecting your kids is knowing them well.  Know their nuances; become a student of their behavior…If your child has a sudden shift in behavior, take it seriously” (pgs. 226-227).
Mary goes on to list many common symptoms of sexual abuse that a parent should take note of.

#2) Be Vigilant But Not Immobilized–

“Be cautious about adults seeking alone time with your child.  Watch your children and who they hang out with…Remember that abusers seldom look like criminals…(but) don’t become so immobilized that you never let your kids be kids.  You don’t want to raise fear-based kids (pgs. 227-228).

#3) Teach Your Kids About Sex–

” …you’ll need to talk about sex with your kids at an early age– in an age appropriate manner…The more comfortable you are talking about it, the more comfortable your kids will be in bringing you any concerns” (pgs. 228-229).

#4) Entrust Your Kids To Jesus–

“Although I have warned (my kids) about stranger danger and how to flee, and we’ve talked about inappropriate touch, I have also learned to entrust my kids to Jesus…We can lean toward controlling our kids, micromanaging their worlds.  While we should protect our kids, we’re also role models, demonstrating a life lived in adventure, not fear” (pgs. 229-230).

#5) Our Greatest Gift–

“The greatest gift we can give our kids is our relationship with Jesus, modeling to them what we do when we’re injured or hurt.  Our own willingness to run to Him with our pain will show our kids how to work through their own difficulties as they grow up.  Contagious family life is not about appearing perfect,…It’s about a bunch of messy people living together, broken, but running to Jesus to find help” (pg. 231).

As we read these words and consider this heartache…

Some of us are processing as parents wanting to protect children.
Or friends wanting to come alongside those we care about.
Or spouses who daily watch a loved one struggle through the aftermath of sexual abuse.
But many reading right now, have experienced these wounds personally.

If you are reading this today, a victim of sexual abuse, my heart breaks over your pain and heartache.
I am so sorry.

I’d like to share with you Mary’s Prayer for a Sexual Abuse Victim.
And if we can pray for you today, we’d like to do that.

We’d also like to share 3 copies of Not Marked with our readers.
We are praying this book can be a source of encouragement and hope.
In it, Mary doesn’t gloss over the pain and struggle, she doesn’t minimize the heartache, but she offers real suggestions (not platitudes) for healing and progress and she proclaims the freedom of living– not marked, but with true hope.

“For we are God’s masterpiece.  He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” ~Eph. 2:10 NLT

With Love,
Kara @ The Chuppies

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Using God’s Word to Correct in Your Family

Using God's Word to Correct in Your Family

Reboot.
Or maybe boot camp.
Something of a control-alt-delete sequence is how this parenting class has felt for me.

My husband and his friend have been leading a parenting class at our church.
As couples, we led a similar class about 5 years ago and it’s not that I’d forgotten everything or that any of the material has been actually new.
But it has been a good reminder–
Of what our deepest goals are for our children.

We pray for true heart change and not just outward external obedience.
We want them to know and love the Lord and live for Him.
We desire close relationships and connection with each on of them.
And we need God’s Word to permeate every aspect of our interaction with them.

I’ve been thinking about how easy it is, in the heat of the moment,
when I’m digging half-melted-Disney-princess-plastic-dolls-shoes out of the heater vent for the second time…
To forget that my words, my response, needs to flow from God’s words of grace and it also needs to be rooted in His call to obedience.

His “children obey your parents in the Lord…that it may go well with you” (Eph. 6:1-3) is the foundation for my response, not irritation at the inconvenience.

So, I’ve been thinking about ways to get back to the basics of letting the Bible be the foundation for the discipline and training of our children.

Here are some ways you can start using God’s Word to correct in your family.

1) We need to go back and teach or re-teach biblical foundations.

The everyday talk of biblical concepts comes fairly naturally to both my husband and me, but especially with our youngest, we need to go back to some of the basics of parent/child relationships.

At a time before correction is needed, we need to sit down and explain God’s desire for children to obey their parents.  We need to pull out our Bibles and read through some key verses about correction and training.
A couple of good ones to start with are: Eph. 6: 1-3, Col. 3:20, and Hebrews 12.

We need to redefine obedience.  In our family, our definition is obeying– quickly, completely, and with a good attitude.

2) As a family, we need to memorize verses that will be helpful.

If there is a particular area where we, or our children are struggling, we need to find and memorize Bible verses that apply.
Instead of merely telling our children to “get along” or “stop fighting” we need to let God’s Word speak into our relationships.
Lately we’ve been struggling with self-discipline, so you can find this verse in various places around our house.

2 Tim Collage2

3) We need to use actual verses in correction and training–

Instead of telling our 4-year-old to “stop whining” we need to be prepared to take our children to Phil. 2:14 where God says to “do all things without grumbling or disputing” or to walk our child through the Exodus story where God reprimanded the Israelites for grumbling against the Lord (Exodus 16).

One of the best resources I’ve found to help me quickly find verses is the Child Training Bible.
Over the years, it has also helped me to create my own little symbols that I put next to verses that relate to a particular subject or topic.

Here’s an example from Proverbs where I’ve used “PC” to note any verse that relates to a parent-child relationship and ”HW” to note those that relate to marriage or husband-wife relationships.  The odd scribble-ish-mess-symbol is my attempt at a “fire” which is what I put next to verses that have to do with the tongue or words.
This has just been a helpful way for me to prepare ahead of time so that I can quickly locate a verse when I need to share it with a child (or with myself).

bible verses
4) We need to weave God’s words and truth into everyday life.

Whether it’s watching a movie, checking the weather, reading a book, listening to music, taking a walk, or driving to swim team practice– we need to “talk freely and naturally about God” with our children.

My husband and I both really appreciate John Younts’ book, Everyday Talk, for its emphasis on using “ordinary conversations to show (our) kids the goodness and wisdom of God”.

We need to pray each morning that we will look for and notice opportunities to mesh God’s words in the Bible with moment by moment life.
Even something as simple as cutting open a pear that looks beautiful on the outside, but is rotten within can bear witness to God’s Truth.

pears

5) We need to pray God’s Word for our children.

There are so many resources available to help us pray for our children.  My friend Brooke has a new book specifically about Praying for Boys and this past post from The Better Mom has free printable prayer cards.
I love Jodie Berndt’s book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Children. In the forward to Berndt’s book, Fern Nichols writes:

“I believe the greatest influence a mom can have in the life of her child is through prayer. As she stands in the gap for her beloved child, the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth hears and answers her prayers…When we pray the promises of God for our children, our faith increases because we are praying back the very words of God.”

It can also be as simple as just picking a passage from God’s Word to start praying this very day.  A great one to start with is Eph. 1: 15-19:

“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might…”

We know that the Bible is living and active, able to determine motives, correct, and change hearts.
I want to move back towards using God’s Words vs. my own words when it comes to correcting and training our kiddos.

I’d love to hear some of your favorite resources or ways that you have used God’s word in parenting your children.

Love,
Kara at The Chuppies

It’s Not a Game…

It's Not a Game...

If I post about parenting–  but ignore my child’s needs…

If I tweet about marriage–  but am too tired for intimacy…

If my Facebook status is for friendship–  but I’m too busy for my friends…

If I text about service–  but do not respond when my neighbor’s need is clear…

If I Pinterest-pin verses–  but don’t actually read my Bible…

If I say “I will pray”– but forget to follow through…

If I speak about love–  but fail to love in action…

If I– fail to love in daily-real-in-the-flesh-life?

Oh it’s not a game.
Let me live the walk I talk.

For little eyes are watching to see what truly captures my heart.

“…let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” ~1 John 3:18

With Love,

Kara @The Chuppies

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