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Is My Child Addicted to Technology?

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“The last thing they need from us is to be shamed for trying to stay afloat on the only waters they’ve sailed.”

In a recent post, Three Reasons You Shouldn’t Call Your Teenager a Tech Addict…and 5 things you can do instead, Brad Griffin points out that addiction language can be damaging and desensitizing if we are not careful.  He writes:

“Young people are growing up in a world where digitally-connected media forms are all around them. This is the only world they’ve ever known. They are trying to figure out how to navigate that world, and they also happen to be drawn like sponges to most of what the digital world offers. The last thing they need from us is to be shamed for trying to stay afloat on the only waters they’ve sailed.”

Like or not, the reality is this is the world they know and live in.  It’s how they connect, communicate, explore, learn, relate, organize, etc.  If we are not careful about how we approach this subject, we will shame our way out of  this area of our kid’s lives.  If this is an area we want to have influence and restriction around, then we need to be strategic about how we approach talking about something that is so much of the fabric of their lives it drives us crazy!

Think about the last couple of times you’ve talked to your teen about their technology usage.  What type of language did you use?  What was the tone of the conversation?  How did they respond?

If you were your son or daughter, based on the last few conversations, would you want to talk more about the topic with you?

As much as it may pain you, if you will set aside your frustrations and take some time to come alongside your son or daughter to learn how they use it, what ways it brings joy into their life, what ways it can hurt them, and actually seek to understand — you will find yourself in a much greater position to influence and engage the topic in future conversations.

Not only that, but when’s the last time you looked in the mirror?  In the post, A Quick Look in the Mirror, I wrote about the story of my daughter racing to bring me my phone as if I couldn’t survive without it.  In that moment, I realized I was modeling the opposite of anything I hoped to be saying about technology in the future.  My ship was sunk before we even started the battle.

Brad points this out by sharing,

For starters, parents can turn the mirror toward themselves and ask questions about what their own behaviors model for their kids.

According to the Common Sense report, nearly 80 percent of teenagers report checking their devices at least once hourly, but so do nearly 70 percent of parents. Kids agree something is amiss here. Nearly half agree that their parents are regularly distracted by devices when teenagers are trying to talk to them. Half of them also see their parents checking mobile devices while driving, and while two thirds say there is a “no device rule” at the dinner table, about a third say their parents are likely to break that rule during dinner. Finally, a third of kids ages 8-13 say they feel unimportant when their parents are distracted by their phones.

It looks like we might all need some help on this issue.

I highly encourage you to check out the rest of Fuller Seminary’s post here:  Three Reasons why you shouldn’t call your teen a tech addict and five things you can do instead.  With each of the 5 “instead’s”, they offer links to helpful resources.

We’ve also written on how to navigate this issue here – Get Off Your Phone! A Few Tips for Restricting the Use of Technology and here – Raising Kids in the Digital Age

Get Some Rest

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I imagine you could use some rest.

I’ve had a goal for the last several years, but I’ve rarely lived into it. The goal: Get up early, before the kids wake up, and start the day off right. However, it’s more likely that I snooze the alarm, wake up to the baby monitor and live the rest of my day on that day’s terms. Or, to say it another way…I’m in reaction mode.

We’ve all been there.
We react to the baby monitor.
Then we react to the kids morning routine.
Then it’s off to work, carpools, dinner, bed time routine…and on it goes.

I’m rarely ahead of myself on these day and I’m typically just making it all up as I go. Wait, did I eat breakfast?

REACTION VS. REST

I recently heard Jon Tyson, Pastor of Trinity Grace Church in NYC, share something I’d never thought about before. He pointed out that in creation God created man on the 6th day. He created man with a job to do. He gave man dominion over everything in the garden — he was to take care of and steward the creation.

So Adam wakes up on the 7th day eager and ready to get start making things happen and God says, “Not today. Today is a day for rest.”

When Adam eventually did start his work, he started from a place of rest.

WE’VE GOT IT BACKWARDS

We do this backwards – we work and then collapse in exhaustion. We don’t stop to rest, eventually our body just forces us to rest.

Imagine starting your day or week off from a place of rest. I have no doubt I would be a better parent. The few times I have actually gotten up early, spent time with Jesus and coffee – I greet my waking kids with a attentive presence, with joy, and a better handle on how I can encourage them for the day.

(Now, I just need to get to bed at a decent time…)

Whether you are a believer or not, there is something incredibly compelling about the Christian idea of Sabbath. What would it look like for you to schedule rest into your busy, hectic life? What would it take for you to do this?  Can you allow yourself to not be “productive” for a period of time and just be present?

One of the things that Sabbath reminds us is that we are worth more than what we create. That we have inherent value. That we can shut things down for a time and enjoy, study, spend time with family, get outside, or just sit and relax on the porch while watching the kids be free to play.

I imagine you could use some rest.

You have my permission to take time to get it.

They Have Access, But No Perspective: A post about your child and pornography.

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To continue the conversation started around pornography and sexuality we began with recent post,  “The Talk” Isn’t Enough, I wanted to share with you a few more thoughts.

Here are some reasons we need this conversation:

  • I’ve heard from middle school students who consistently encounter pornography at school through friends and on their own.  We need this conversation because students are truly being educated by the internet and not their parents or trusted sources.
  • I’ve counseled students who consume pornography almost daily, daily, or multiple times daily.  We need this conversation because they have access, but they have no perspective for what they are doing.
  • Recently, in our community we have had issues that I’m willing to wager, trace back to pornography on some level.  We need this conversation because pornography has real life consequences and we aren’t talking enough about those.
  • Recently, my wife and I had to talk about whether or not our elementary age child was exposed to pornography on the bus.  We need this conversation because the average age of first viewing pornography is 11 years old.

This is a real problem with real consequences.  We could spend significant time talking about this issue from a brain development perspective, a healthy sex life (both form and function) perspective, a justice perspective or the societal reasons we should be engaged in this conversation, or from an interpersonal relationship perspective.

This topic was recently the cover of Time magazine.  I still remember the first time I read this Huffington Post article, “What I Wish I Knew Before Watching Porn”  and started exploring the far reaching effects of pornography.  I’m thankful for the work of Fight the New Drug, particularly on the way porn affects society.  Even if you are a parent of young children or an empty nester, there are compelling reasons for us to all be involved in this conversation, though that’s not what today is about.

WHAT THIS IS ABOUT

I can promise you the students engaging with porn on a daily basis have no perspective of how they might be changing their brains or how they might be destroying their ability to sexually perform or how they might be contributing to the enslavement of young girls.  There are other things they don’t know as well.

“They don’t know the language of face to face contact…constant arousal, change, novelty excitement makes them out of sync with the pace of relationships – relationships which build slowly.”

–Psychologist Philip Zimbardo, in article Sex Before Kissing

They have the access to porn, but they have no perspective for what they are dealing with.

However, this isn’t about those things today, (though I encourage you to look into them and educate yourself and educate your son or daughter).

This is about something different.

This is about what we were created for.

It’s about who you are.  It’s about who you are becoming.

This is about hope not fear.

Hope that no matter what darkness we encounter, the light of Jesus exposes and heals and renews and rebuilds.

In scripture, we understand that God created us for connection, intimacy, and relationship.  We see that God created sex and he called it good.  We see that God placed it in a context – “for this reason a man shall leave his family and be united to his wife and the two will become one flesh”.

We understand that we are not just the sum of desires as culture sometimes tells us.  But we also see that we are human beings with sexual bodies even though the church and the family would, at times, like to ignore that fact.

PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR SHOES

Pornography mimics love, connection, intimacy, and relationship – things we were created for.  Porn has the ability to make us feel cared for and loved.  Porn can you give you a sense of control, when life feels uncertain.

They were created for what they might temporarily experience through consuming porn.  Porn is compelling and it is a huge money making industry because of this.

It’s not hard to imagine a students feeling alone, bored, disconnected in a world of social media showing us how we are missing out or not as loved/connected as our peers.

Essentially, they are longing for what they were created for and running to the false alternative.  It actually destroys and does harm, but for the moment they feel better.  It’s hard to say it this way, but if we are honest, porn is being willing to use someone else because we are feeling sad, disconnected, alone…

GIVE PERSPECTIVE

Again, they have access but very limited perspective.  Your role as a parent is to help give perspective.  Educate yourself and educate them on all the harmful effects of pornography, but I’ll warn you – fear doesn’t work.

You must give them something more compelling.

I recently read the story of a pastor who was secretly struggling with pornography for many years.  Here’s his response to how he overcame this secret life:

“The way to fight lust is to feed faith with the knowledge of an irresistibly glorious God.”

Give your students perspective.  Let them know how harmful it is.  Help them locate their feelings and understanding of their self in how we were created by God in the beginning.  But what might even be more compelling, is to help them see an “irresistibly glorious God”.

Just as much as we need to answer the question, “How do I protect my child?”, we should seek to answer the question, “How do I feed their faith and point them towards an irresistibly glorious God?”

If I might be so bold to guess, God would invite you to spend your energies in hopes and dreams as opposed to shrinking in fear.  My hope for today, is this conversation opens up the possibilities as opposed to creating fear.

Do not be afraid.

It’s scary stuff, but I have full confidence in an irresistibly glorious God.

Since we’ve been discussing this topic with the students in our group, many students have on their own challenged each other to go 40 days being porn free.  They are keeping themselves accountable, challenging each other, and seeking to live in the light.

Porn mimics love, but it doesn’t stand a chance against the real thing.

Friends, do not be afraid.  We have reason to hope.

 

 

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