Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Raising Kids in a Mega-Media World - Pt 1.

We live in such a media-saturated world. Parents today aren't just trying to juggle helping their kids with school, running carpools, relationships, jobs and keeping everyone fed and clothed anymore. There is so much more today. EVERYTHING has changed.

I'll be the first to say that I appreciate technology. Technology can be a GREAT thing. A good majority of our family's ministry is made possible because of technology.

Back when we were first raising our kids the big #1 rule of internet safety was to have your computer in an open area in the house where all could see. That was a pretty great rule. But today's parents had better WAKE up, because EVERYTHING has changed.

No longer is internet use made available merely on the family computer. Today, with kids having personal laptops, cell phones, iPods and iPads ... it's become all the more treacherous. Most of us wouldn't hand our 10 yr old a loaded gun without proper training and safety precautions. WHY then are we throwing our children into such danger with little thought or oversight in other areas?

OH, but we WANT to believe our kids are safe. We want to believe that such things only happen to those seeking out trouble. So often I hear this ... "oh, I know who my kids are chatting with and they have great friends, so I'm not concerned at all about monitoring their phone use.". SERIOUSLY? Moms, can I just plead with you that we can't POSSIBLY know everything our kids and their friends are facing. A dear friend of mine shared with me recently that her sister {who comes from a great little small town and knows pretty much everyone there} found out one of her son's friends was sending inappropriate photos to his phone. Moms, this HAPPENS. As my wise friend said, "we might KNOW our kids' friends, but we don't know all the struggles of their hearts".

It really comes down to LOVE. DO WE LOVE our kids ENOUGH to stop being BLIND to this epidemic our culture is facing? DO WE? DO YOU? DO I?

It's been reported that before the days of internet, children were typically between the ages of 11 to 13 when they began by viewing soft-core pornography found in magazines. Some researchers have stated now that the average age of exposure to porn is down to 8. I shudder to even type that number! EIGHT. Do you THINK it's time we WAKE UP?

What does all this mean?

First of all it DOESN'T mean that all kids today are seeking out porn or inappropriate relationships. That's the problem with today's technology. They don't have to be seeking it out. And mommas ... let me just say ... even if your own children do not have cell phones or iPods ... you can't check out here. This topic is for you too. They don't have to OWN devices to be subjected to this.

It DOES mean that we must WAKE UP. We must be in-tune with today's technology. This is not the place or time to play dumb. We must LOVE our children {of all ages} enough to know what's going on in their world.

HOW do we do that?

  • Be informed. If your kids have internet-accessible technology that YOU don't know the basics of how to use it, then it shouldn't be in your family. Remember, it really comes down to LOVE. Do we LOVE our kids enough to take care of them? Or don't we?
  • Set boundaries. Young people need boundaries. They NEED sleep to function well. A simple rule of handing in all internet-accessible devices at a set time each evening could be one of the best things you do for your kids. Remember, it really comes down to LOVE.
  • Spend time with your kids. You cannot know what's going on in their lives if you don't spend time together. Hint: We get to know our kids best when they do more talking than we do. :) It goes back to LOVE, my friend. Do we LOVE our kids enough to invest in their lives by being in-tune with them?
  • Educate your kids. Sex is NOT a bad thing! God designed it to be an INCREDIBLE thing between husband and wife. It is GOOD in the context of marriage. Ok, it's WAY more than good! Your kids should KNOW this. We can't have "the talk" with our kids and then close the subject. It should be an ongoing conversation as they grow and mature. Feeling awkward? It's ok. Just remember it comes back to LOVE. We must also educate them about the dangers out there, including when they are around their friends with technology.

Next, we'll look at active ways that we can help protect our kids in this mega-media world we're living in. There are some great resources out there. In the meantime, can I just encourage you to seek the Lord about this area of your parenting? Just reading this post proves that you care about your kids. What today's kids need are parents who LOVE them enough to walk this road together. It all comes down to that. Do you LOVE them that much?

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