In this week’s podcast episode of parenting with Truth and Grace, we talk about technology. Specifically, “How to talk to your kids about technology.” You can listen to the podcast here. Also, if you haven’t already subscribed, why don’t you subscribe now so you automatically get each week’s newest episode.
As Dr. Kathy Koch says in her book, Screens and Teens, “Our kids are growing up in a world of screens”. They have smart phones, iPods, iPads, laptops, televisions, Apple watches and on and on it goes. But the brutal reality is, they are here to stay and the only change we are going to see is more and more screens and technology.
Which for parents, brings us to the question, “How do we talk to our children about technology?” You might wonder why do a podcast on talking to our kids. Why not just talk about the influence technology is having on our children? Well, we are going to talk about that in future podcasts and hopefully with some future guests.
But, likely many of you already know some things about technology. And there is a good chance, you are concerned enough that you’re starting to have these conversations. We want to help you with those discussions. We’ll point you to books and resources to help you get more of the facts and information, but we are specifically taking on the topic of talking to your kids.
In many ways, the principles we share are applicable for other conversations, but this topic has some very unique aspects. For one, in many ways our children are way more comfortable than we are around technology. This IS their world. Second, technology is changing so fast that these conversations will need to continue to take place. So it’s important to set yourself up for success now and in the future. And third, there can be a lot of emotion around this topic.
Here are a few big picture truths that should inform our parenting. Perhaps as important a truth as any, when it comes to this subject, is the reminder that God is bigger than technology and we mustn’t parent out of fear. If you’re anything like us, then you know the tendency when something is a little unknown or feels out of control is to get fearful. The problem is fear ignores the sovereignty of God.
Technology is neutral and it’s not going away. It’s not bad, and for that matter it’s not good, apart from how we use it. That’s why our goal should be learning how to manage and to be self-governing when it comes to our devices.
In parenting, especially something as visible as technology, more is caught than taught. It’s critical that as parents we take an honest look at our own handling of technology. For example, before we talk to our children about how much time they are spending on their phone, we should ask ourselves the same question.
With that as the background, we discuss some important keys to successfully navigating this topic with your children.
- Conversation about technology needs to happen with the whole family. Have a Family Meeting in order to hear their ideas and thoughts on management as well. We’ve created a free pdf to help you conduct a successful Family Meeting.
- Have a frank discussion about internet safety. Be honest about your own challenges and struggles. Share your concerns for them. Include conversations about protecting WHAT they see (using tools like Covenant Eyes) as well as protection from WHO they talk to, HOW they are talked to, and WHEN they are talking.
- Rules Without Relationship = Rebellion. We can’t stress enough the importance of focusing on your relationship with your children. Parenting out of a relationship is 100 times better than laying down a list of rules.
- Use wisdom in considering the age of your children. Our parenting changes as our kids change. This should be true in how we handle technology as well. The conversation changes as we go from the Director phase to the Trainer phase to the Coaching phase. Our “Ages and Life Stages” chart can help you better understand this.
- Remember the goal is to raise children with wisdom and self-control who are able to be self-governing in the area of technology.
Finally we’d encourage you to focus on this… the heart of the issue is we are after a healthy relationship with our kids. Rather than focusing on what we don’t want… texting all the time, hanging out on Facebook, walking around with headphones in their ears… focus on what we DO want. REAL relationships! Instead of sending the message to our kids that we are against technology, let’s send the message loud and clear that we love them and we deeply have the desire to cultivate our relationship with them.