Children are being fed information about culture, consumerism, authority, education, meaning, and value in life in every cartoon they watch, commercial they see, book they read, and song they hear. They are introduced to multiple views about truth, right and wrong, and responsibility at school, church, with friends, and at home.
As a parent, I desire to keep my kids safe, but I am also intentional about helping introduce them to the world as their age and maturity warrants.
My wife and I have made a conscious effort to discuss important things with each child early on so that they are not first introduced to some concepts outside the home.
For example, we have talked with our children about specific curse words (even sharing those words with the,=m and explaining what they mean), about how to treat people with special needs, about science and faith (especially with relation to Creation), and we have also talked with them about where babies come from.
As we watch shows we sometimes discuss choices different characters make. We read books and discuss characters attitudes, reasons for conflict, etc. We even discuss commercials and the reality behind the toys that are being sold through manipulative marketing techniques.
The point of all of this is that we desire to engage our children. We want to have a close relationship with our kids, and we want them to know they can trust us and come to us when they have questions about important things. We want them to know that we have a lot of knowledge and that we can be trusted to give them real/truthful answers.
We also want to refrain from pushing them into the world too quickly. There are things we do not want them to experience at 6 that we will want them to experience at 13. I think that many parents likely feel this way, but an area of ever-increasing concern in this realm is TECHNOLOGY.
Our children are valuable, they are impressionable, and the face a lot of pressure from the world around them, especially in the age of social media.
Helping our children navigate the world today is much different than it was for anyone growing up in the 80s or 90s.
As parents we must love our children, cultivate mutual trust in our relationship with them, and we as Christians desire to cultivate in them a love for God and a love for others. It is through a relationship with him that they will best know how to act/react and treat others in a world submerged in social media.
The Bible and Parenting
How does the Bible teach parents to treat their Children?
Matthew 18:10 states: “See that you do not despise one of these little ones.”
The idea behind this passage is that children are important to the Lord. They bear God’s image equally with adults. They are valuable as human beings and they have all the emotions and needs that adults have.
Ephesians 6:4 reads: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
This passage teaches that Christian parents should not abuse their children. They should not be overly harsh in their discipline and that they should cultivate in their children a love for God and a love for obedience to the Lord. Colossians 3:21 adds that provoking children leads to discouragement. If we are overly harsh in discipline, we break their spirits instead of helping them gain confidence and self-respect. We should always be about building up their souls and not breaking their will.
Proverbs 22:6 states: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
We are to teach our children to be responsible adults who contribute to society and share God’s Kingdom in the world. Not all children will choose to follow this path, but this passage is part of a section on general wisdom which suggests that typically if a parent lovingly raises a child to follow the Lord that he or she will continue to follow the Lord for life.
Technology, Safety, and Protection
In order to raise children well in an age of technology, we must be aware of the problems they face.
The main challenges are protecting them from pornography, cyberbullying, online sexual harassment, and protecting them from online child predators.
Obviously, we cannot control every factor to keep them completely safe, but there is much we can do to not only minimize chances of being harmed, but we can also learn how to recognize signs that suggest our child is being manipulated, bullied, or harassed online.
Nearly 47% of young people say they have received “intimidating, threatening or nasty messages online.” There is also a proven connection between social media use and mental health. Cyberbullying takes place on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube. That is not to say all these platforms should be avoided, but as parents we must be aware of what our children are experiencing in these environments.
Kids are bullied online because of their appearance, academic achievements, their race, their sexuality, their financial status, and their religion. They are often concerned about going to school after being bullied online. Teenagers report receiving text messages that call them hurtful names or are intended to hurt their feelings. Sometimes things that happen online even lead to actual physical altercations.
Parental controls on devices is a start, but there are always workarounds. Parents also need to know what apps their kids are using and what can happen on those apps.
Nearly half of teenagers admit to attempting to hide some online behavior from their parents. Sexting is an increasing concern.
- 42% of children between 7 and 16 admit to having seen pornography online
- One in 12 has exchanged messages with sexual content with other people
- 25% have pretended to be older to create online accounts
- One in 20 has set up a meeting with someone he or she met online
- 29% of parents let their children use the internet with no filters
To help equip you to better know how to help your children stay safe with technology, I want to encourage you to check out Aspis Consulting.
On this site you can find training, resources, and even reach out directly to the team to get personal help. The training and resources they offer are made available to anyone with a need regardless of income. And the head of this group is Tim McDonald. He is the person on the YouTube videos associated with this post.
Stats on this post come from: https://internetsafety101.org/cyberbullyingstatistics and from here: https://sharedhope.org/2013/08/07/5-scary-statistics-about-children-on-the-internet/ For more stats see the following: https://www.guardchild.com/teenage-sexting-statistics/ and https://www.guardchild.com/statistics/