The feedback from our speaker series this week has been incredibly encouraging. Author, speaker, and media contributor, Brian Housman provided parent seminars and spoke to our students from grades 5-12. A special thanks goes to Venture Church for hosting the kick off event, which has been recorded for you to watch here in case you were unable to attend the events this week.
There are over 50 free resources and Brian’s books that can be found at his website 360family.org.
Here are some quick tips and takeaways from some of his discussions this week:
–All phones come with built-in parental controls. If you feel a lack of proficiency in this area, ask the store at the time of purchase to SET THESE UP for you and teach you how to manage these before you leave the store with this device.
—There are also great subscription services like BARK that help with a second level of management and controls to protect your teens and pre-teens with their devices.
–Our teens are spending an average of 2 hours a day on social media…this equates to ONE MONTH of every year of time spent on social media. Brian emphasized this in his student sessions how mindful they must be in regards to the time spent on screens and social media.
–Brian recommended two specific boundaries with screens and devices in the home: (1) a time of day boundary, and (2) a location boundary.
(1) Time of day boundary– One hour before bed, it would be wise for devices to go up. Bluelights from our devices and screens cause both us and our children to produce serotonin (the chemical our body uses to register it is time to wake up in the morning when the wee light of the sun creeps through the window). Our brains and bodies need that “off” time to register that we are tired and that it is time for bed. Brian shares that he and his family have a place in their kitchen that all of these things are turned in each night to prevent the temptation of sleeping next to devices.
(2) Location boundary–Cell phones, computers, ipads and more would be wise to remain in common areas of the home and not in spaces like bedrooms or bathrooms. This helps things remain in the light and not foster an environment for secrets and inappropriate behavior to happen behind closed doors. It also creates a boundary that protects the child and parent relationship as we partner together with our children as they navigate these challenging communication tools.
—Six minutes each day, Brian recommended to our students (and adults!) to turn off all the noise. Turn off spotify, turn off notifications, power off devices, and take six minutes to sit in silence. The inordinate amount of noise our teens and preteens face each day are so loud and so relentless, that they are unable to have internal space to be with the Lord. This six minute shut off gives them the opportunity to be still and listen.
–There are federal laws on age requirements for social media accounts. Most require a child to be 13 years of age. We cannot expect our children to be mindful of our authority as parents and caregivers if we are willing to undermine the authority of those laws and regulations made as a threshold of protection for our children.
–Before you agree to give your child a cell phone, have them sign a contract of usage (just like you have to sign with your cellular company), so expectations are clear from the beginning. If your child already has their phone, it is not too late to reconvene on this. Brian has a sample contract on his website that you can use.
—Check your child’s devices regularly and randomly. Ask questions about how they know certain people. If they don’t have relationships with people in real life, it may be wise to disconnect digitally. Talk openly and calmly with them through these decisions so you are giving them a training wheels experience on how to manage those situations on their own as they grow and mature.
—Brian emphasized over and over to our students: NOTHING YOU DO ONLINE IS EVER PRIVATE. On social media and through technology, there are no do-overs or take-backs. When you opt-in to these social media sites, you are opting into relinquishing your privacy. Pictures and text will never be private and can and will be re-shared with people you wish they wouldn’t be. Be mindful about your digital reputation. You will never be able to get it back once it is tarnished.
–In disciplining your children for non-device related issues, like poor grades or disrespect, etc. Taking away their devices may not be effective. While we do not intend for this, in taking away their devices for these unrelated things, we are effectively cutting them off from their perceived “entire world.” Their network and friendships are so intimately connected to their phones that we must be mindful that the punishment matches the crime. There are and will be times that taking a break from people, certain social media sites, and even phones will be a helpful means to teach and shepherd our children to make better decisions. In doing this, we are treating them with dignity to make mistakes and also choose wisely.
—Have the hard conversations!! No matter how many filters are present, no matter how wise we are as parents and caregivers, they will inevitably see things that are harmful to their hearts. The goal would be that you would be an established safe place for your son or daughter to turn to discuss these things with as they arise.
—Remember, social media, phones, and other technology are not “bad” or “evil” in and of themselves. These are inanimate objects. They are not capable of good or evil, right or wrong. They do not have a soul. But we as humans do. We, as humans, are capable of walking a path of destruction and sin or a narrower pathway of holiness and righteousness. These platforms are only representing–in real time–the real sin nature of human souls. Putting down or talking negatively about these things will not solve the problems we have at hand, however, talking directly to our sin nature and to the saving grace of Jesus Christ will, for His glory.
—All the while, we must be broken records to our children IN WHOM they find their identity…Jesus. He calls them sons and daughters, beloved, and friend. He made them fearfully and wonderfully. While the world of instagram may be telling our daughters they are not skinny enough or pretty enough and the world of youtube is flooding our sons with pornographic materials–our job is to to be broken records reminding them that they belong to the Lord, are chosen, are precious, and are unbelievably and perfectly loved.