Teens and Screens: Advice for Parents

As a father of four children under ten, I am constantly thinking about our kids’ interaction with technology. On the one hand, I want them to be read and equipped to leverage technology to fulfill their God-given mission in this age. On the other hand, I see technology as a kind of loaded weapon that can be used by the enemy to destroy their souls. This is why I really appreciate people like Dr. Kathy Koch, who has thought deeply about this. She’s got a new book out, Screens and Teens. I had the chance to chat with her for Leadership Journal this week. Here is one question I asked:

I think a lot of Christian parents are wrestling with the tension of using technology for good and also protecting their kids from potentially harmful content. How can they navigate this tension?

We certainly need to parent by faith and not by our ability to protect our kids. Relying on Godly wisdom, parents can begin equipping their children from the time they’re young to make wise choices, so they get to practice making good (and poor) choices while the stakes are low. Children with good decision-making skills can help protect themselves by choosing to avoid certain games, websites, movies, and the like. Being able to discern good from evil also prepares them to quickly turn away from and delete harmful content they do come across.

I want to remind parents that it’s equally important that they personally model healthy uses of technology—in terms of what devices they use, why, when, and how often. You can introduce your kids to the learning potential of specific sites and devices as well as the fun we can have individually and together. Modeling healthy technology use is one part of the equation. The other side is accessing parental control services to protect children from stumbling on to harmful material.

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