We have been studying Engage by Kirk Cameron on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. It is a short 5-week study on raising your kids in a social media generation. There has been some helpful information and conversation around this topic.
As parents of children raised in a “social media world,” we are embarking on unexplored territory. In the study, the focus in on the overuse or misuse of technology in the lives of both children and adults.
Dr. Ian Armstrong talked about the physical impacts of technology. As parents, we’ve told our kids to go outside and play, to read a book and other activities other than technology. Dr. Armstrong shared that it’s important for your child’s brain to receive stimuli from many different paths of life. When kids overuse technology without other paths to stimulate their brain, there is actually some thinning of the prefrontal lobe of the brain, since it is not fully developed during the teenage years.
Some children suffer separation anxiety when their devices are taken away from them. It’s important to remember that most social media and technology are designed for entertainment, not education. There is a physical draw and a desire for technology that is especially present in children and teens.
As we look to find ways to protect our children in a social media society, it’s important that we understand that this battle with technology is not just a physical one. Rather, it’s also very much a spiritual battle. The devil knows that your child is precious to you, and even more precious to God, so he will do whatever it takes to capture their heart. It is our role as parents to fight back against the temptations that surround our children.
Sounds like a lot of pressure, right? Be encouraged. You are not fighting this battle alone. With the power of God, the power of His word, and the Holy Spirit, there is abundant hope for you and your child.
There is also power in a Godly parent. The question was asked, what kind of parent are you?
- Aware & engaged? Involved in the life of your child, schools and also in the culture. Eyes wide open?
- A little less engaged? My kid’s pretty good, it’s happening mostly to other kids. You give yourself a pass to just let things happen. Maybe one eye open?
- Hair’s on fire? My kid has problems. I need to get involved and do whatever it takes to keep them safe
As our children age, we have to make more of an intentional effort to connect with them daily. However, with social media and technology commanding their attention, that has become more challenging than ever before. We are competing for their attention, and likewise, our children are competing for ours.
While pursuing healthy and biblical family values may seem like a daunting task in our tech world, Dr. Kathy Cook assures parents that their children will eventually thank them for their decision to cut back on screen time. Though the takeaway here extends far beyond reducing the time children spend on iPads and smartphones. Dr. Kathy’s goal is to get us as parents to look at ourselves in the mirror and make sure we’re setting the right example. Before asking our children to change their technology habits, it’s important that we check ourselves first.
Dr. Kathy said that if you are a parent who truly knows your child, you’re the best person to parent them. Your child wants to be fully known, and fully loved. Do you make an effort to know your child well including their life outside of the home? Many parents admit to spending more time on their devices (smartphones, iPads, computers) than getting to know their child. Is this something you struggle with as a parent?
Dr. Kathy suggested that time spent in the car with your family should be “digital-free.” What does your family time in the car look like now? As parents, another thing we should do is find ways to intentionally teach and model gratitude and service for our children.
When we look back at history, we can truly see how important it is to protect and encourage the younger generations while they are in our care. While some stories may frighten us when we think about the evil forces that strategically bombard our children, we need these stories to open our eyes to the seriousness of the task at hand. (anyone see the Super Bowl halftime show?) History is full of stories that help us raise our children well. Your child, no matter their circumstances, can be used powerfully by God. However, it is up to you, as a parent, to recognize the pressures that surround them daily and guide them toward the Lord. The enemy wants to stunt their spiritual growth, but with the power of God and your training, your children can become spiritual giants in their generation!
Remember, the decisions you make surrounding technology, discipline, and compassion for your family will, without a doubt, impact your child’s future. Put the past behind you and start engaging with your child today.
Excerpts taken from the study Engage by Kirk Cameron. The study is available on Right Now Media.
Submitted by Butch