Technology and Our Kids Part 3

Technology and Our Kids Part 3 , written by Ryan Langeland, answers a few of parents’ most frequently asked questions.

As an area Youth Leader who remembers teaching students before the advent of the Internet, I have seen a new generation of students learning to grow up with readily-available technology and all of its benefits and aggravations.  Parents are regularly asking me for advice regarding students’ use of cell phones, and I thought I would briefly share the most common questions I get and how I respond to them:

When is the best time for my student to get a cell phone?

A: The summer before High School.  I absolutely love and vigorously protect Middle Schoolers and can say they are rarely at a point when they can appropriately manage their cell phone use.  I realize that this is not a commonly-held view and that many Middle Schoolers have cell phones.  Yes, this will be a point of contention in a household that is holding off cell phone privileges, but deferred gratification yields greater responsibility.  Use the post-8th Grade summer to closely monitor cell phone use and to provide guidance before your student enters High School.

What are some apps or behaviors I need to be watching out for, as a parent?

A: Some of these are obvious: Texting and driving, sexting, and bullying.  Let me encourage parents to be TOUGH and VIGILANT with treatment of violations of these behaviors.  Please remember that repeated negative consequences for behavior lose effect over time.  It is more important to be clear, decisive, and present during a first punishment than at any other time.
Here’s another thing to watch for: students are setting up fake or proxy accounts on social media, virtual private networks or secret internet accessing accounts, or using other students’ phones.  For better or for worse, students want to be privately contact people with their cell phones.  They will go to great lengths to keep their interactions with anyone secret, especially from their parents.

How do I monitor what my student is doing with their cell phone?

A: You really can’t do this entirely, but there are really good practices that will help students properly prioritize cell phone use and keep use from happening at times that will often get students into trouble.  Let me point out a few: Have students leave their cell phones on the kitchen table to charge before going to bed at night.-Have students leave their cell phones at home when going to church functions.-Make a “no headphones” rule for when you are taking trips.  This allows for a little more interaction and accountability for the entertainment students are taking in when traveling. -Ask students what they are doing, playing, etc. on their phones. Do this often enough so that it is not an awkward conversation.  Let students know that you care what they are doing in the digital world.  Let them know that you want them to make wise decisions in what they are doing, on their own.  Confirm that you want to walk alongside them with this, not above them.

Ryan Langeland
Warsaw Community Church Youth Pastor

Technology and Our Kids Part 2

As the internet is so prevalent in our daily lives it is important to have a plan for monitoring our children’s screen time. With so many possible negative outcomes from unsupervised screen time, Tyler Moore High School Youth Pastor at Warsaw Community Church takes time to share his thoughts on the subject.

I recently made a visit to the city of Chicago. As I considered where I would go, I was reminded of the weird bean that everyone loves, the Sears Tower (not the Sears Tower any more) and the many other opportunities I could have. It even crossed my mind the kind of photos I might be able to take and post on social media. What didn’t occur to me while planning my visit to Chicago, though, is all the places that I wouldn’t want to visit. There are all kinds of places that would quickly lead to trouble: bars, strip clubs, dark alleys. Thankfully, people have shown me how to navigate this city safely, so I knew what areas to avoid.

You might be wondering, “What does a visit to Chicago have to do with technology?” I’m so glad that you asked! Just like a big city has all kinds of opportunities and wonderful places you can go, so does the internet. And in the same way that a large city like Chicago has a lot of dangerous places that you could visit, so does the internet.

If you knew that your child had some crazy school project where they were going to navigate Chicago by themselves, you would make sure to teach them what they need to watch for and where they need to go. You would give them guidelines. You would tell them who they could trust and who they couldn’t. You would recommend certain restaurants. You might even chart out exactly where they could and couldn’t go. What you wouldn’t do, under any circumstances, is give them money and say “good luck”. And yet, very often, that’s what happens when we give our kids cell phones. 

If you’re like most parents, you find technology a bit overwhelming and your child is constantly teaching you things that you didn’t know. That’s funny to joke about at parties, but the fact is our children are navigating some really dangerous places. And too often, they’re doing it alone, without supervision. I know that trying to understand technology can be difficult. It changes so quickly! The fact remains, though: You wouldn’t let your child go to Chicago without supervision and we shouldn’t let them navigate the vast spaces of the internet alone either. We need to do the work of understanding the things that our children are using so that we can help them make wise decisions that will affect their futures. ~ Tyler Moore

WCS believes in the importance of partnering with our parents in training up children to be prepared for life and eternity in all that they do. Here are a few resources that we have found to be beneficial in regards to navigating the internet from a Biblical perspective:

Deuteronomy 6:7 teaches parents to be talking to their children about God’s truths every day in all situations. WCS Parent, Jacob Barros, Associate Director of IT, Network and Operations at Grace College advises parents to have an open honest relationship and put the right protections in place, teaching kids to be good digital citizens, even when it’s hard. WCS would like to encourage you to take this stance as well, by setting up guidelines and having those conversations with your child. While remembering, that even as our children navigate within parent approved apps, they may not always be protected and adult supervision is still necessary.

Next week in the final part 3 of our Technology and Our Kids series, Ryan Langeland will answer some of the most frequently asked questions by parents in regards to technology guidelines for students.

Technology and Our Kids

WCS Fall 2018-85
WCS is committed to teaching all things through a Biblical worldview and this includes digital citizenship. With the increased media attention of harmful videos going viral on social media, I would like to take this time to share with you that WCS provides a safe online learning platform through Smoothwall. This filtering provider blocks all harmful or inappropriate content. Smoothwall recently released a statement in regards to parental concerns to games such as ‘Momo’. Click here to read Smoothwall’s statement.
It is in these early preschool and elementary years of formation that it is especially important that family, school, and church work together to help educate children in order that they have deep roots in God’s word to withstand the blows of  the things of this world. It is because of my commitment to building up world changing students that I am thankful that WCS’s  friends and families are as equally committed to helping us grow our students into becoming godly stewards of their technological worlds.  Brad Grennier, Grace College Student and Student Ministries Intern at Warsaw Community Church, is one of those committed individuals who has written the following to help us ask the right questions to keep our technology use in check with God’s word. Please take the time to read his thoughts and be encouraged as you navigate this tech world with your child(ren):

Technology is not sinful. It itself has no inherent issues compared to scripture. What we do with technology can become problematic. What first comes to mind when I think about technology is social media. I myself am on social media (Instagram). Instagram has given me the ability to stay connected into others’ lives that I don’t get to see daily. Instagram has also given me the ability to stray away from God. The thought that the Bible can help us understand what to do with social media can seem far-fetched, but His word is true for every age. The Bible does not specifically speak on the topic of social media. We don’t see the 11th commandment “thou shalt not take a selfie”. But the Bible does bring up a few questions that parents can consider and bring up in conversation with their kids.

The first question to consider is: will this be edifying? To honestly answer this question, we must understand what edifying means. Edifying is to build up. We must ask if this this builds others up? The answer is typically no. In 1 Corinthians 10:23-24 it says, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything’—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” This verse applies to more then just social media. It applies to every aspect of our lives. I’m not saying the God doesn’t want us to have fun and enjoy what we have on earth. That not the case. So often we (as Christians) ask where the line is. And this verse shows that we are in the wrong thinking. We shouldn’t be trying to creep towards sin but towards Christ and his perfection. When we ask the question will this be edifying? We are putting what we are doing in an eternal perspective. Will social media help us build each other up or will it distract us?

The second question is: does it pass the “test”? This test can be found in Philippians 4:8 which says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” When we look at this test it can be used for any part of life. Social media is no exception. Is social media lovely, admirable, true, noble, right, or pure? Not in all cases. This verse tells us to think or set your minds upon these things. If social media is keeping you distant or distracted from God, then a heart check needs to be in place.

Don’t take these questions as a focus that every single person should get rid of social media. Like I stated before, God wants us to enjoy stuff on earth. These questions help us put our priorities in check. Social media can be used to further the Gospel but often is used to boost our pride or to tear ourselves/others down. Christ commanded us to be heavenly focused. He commands us to go and make disciples who make disciples (Matt 28:16-20). He does not command us to have a ton of Instagram followers. These questions are something you might not directly say but can ask your kids. It may be awkward at first, but it is beneficial to train kids in the Word and help them stay eternity focused.

We will continue our focus on technology and our kids in our next blog post. Stay tuned!

Tricia Deisch, Principal