This connected age we live in is absolutely amazing.
I love the ways I am able to connect instantly with friends and family via my iPhone. I love the way I can share pictures and memories and what I’m eating for dinner with my friends on Facebook. I enjoy tweeting directly to celebrities and theme parks via Twitter, find hundreds of people who want to share #disneygrams with me on Instagram.
I love Timehop for reminders of previous years’ posts, Pinterest for ideas on things I can’t possibly figure out how to do as good as the picture, and Swarm because I’m the mayor of one of my favorite Disneyland hotels. (And I confess, I do have a Snapchat, but only so my kids can take silly pictures of themselves with those infectious filters.)
I can’t imagine what entertainment would be without my Xbox One, Apple TV, Netflix, Hulu, and the ability to stream from anywhere in the world. I’m a huge fan of nearly every digital innovation that has enabled me to bring information closer, enjoy life in a whole new way. Even this blog is a result of that digital revolution, allowing us to share our adventures with people around the world.
But as a parent, this digital age can be rather daunting. There are so many ways to connect online, and so many ways kids want to connect, that it can feel like a parental minefield. What games do you let your kids play? What ratings of TV shows do you let them watch on Netflix or Hulu–and how much binge-watching do you allow? Do they get to play online via Xbox Live or Roblox? What about email? Cell phones? Texting? This is truly a “connected generation.”
It’s a challenge. The digital age makes it that much harder for parents and kids to stay the course. To not grow weary of doing good. Because there’s just so many cool things we can do. On my iPhone alone there are just too many awesome ways to do things and have fun with other people.
So how do we weather it? How do we help out children stay strong, make wise choices, and do what God asks them to do when there are just so many awesome–yet potentially dangerous–ways to connect, have fun, and enjoy the digital world?
In my role as Children and Family Pastor at a church in Seattle, I interact with kids–elementary age kids–who are dealing with more stuff than I even dreamed about when I was their age. They are being forced to grow up faster than they should, and many of them are struggling with very “adult” issues.
Kids struggling with pornography. Self-image issues. Parental abuse. Divorce, drugs, sex, stealing, lying, and stuff that I had no idea existed when I was in the 4th grade. It breaks my heart to see them struggle. These are good kids who need their parents to engage in the conversation, help them stay strong and follow the better way that God has created for them. I’ve watched my own kids struggle in their own ways, and I’ve realized through a lot of trial and error what these connected kids need from us as parents.
They need us to help them find ways to enjoy this crazy new connected world without sacrificing their principles and staying true to their core values.
For my next several posts, I will be talking about just that. From apps to texts to phone rules and how to handle those Xbox Live friends, I’ll give you our top ten tips for surviving the minefield that is our contemporary digital landscape. Buckle your seat belts–it could get a bit bumpy.