Parenting the Connected Generation

This new connected age we live in is absolutely amazing.

I love the ways I am able to connect, nearly instantly, with friends and family via my iPhone.  I love the way I can share pictures and status updates with my friends on Facebook.  I have fully embraced the technological advances of the Xbox, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and nearly every other innovation that has enabled me to bring information closer, enjoy life in a whole new way.  Even this blog is a result of that digital revolution, allowing me to share thoughts on everything from faith to family to art and beyond.

But as a parent, the digital age can be rather daunting.  There are so many ways to connect online, and so many ways kids want to connect, that it can feel like a parental minefield.  What games do you let your kids play?  What ratings of TV shows do you let them watch on Netflix?  Do they get to play online via Xbox Live or Toontown?  What about email?  Cell phones?  Texting?  This is truly a “connected generation.”

Every week, I stand in front of the 700+ kids in my ministry and remind them that they can make the wise choice.  I reminded them yesterday that even though they can’t see God, they can trust Him and know Him and have faith in Him–and that we can do what He asks because of it.

It’s a challenge.  The digital age makes it that much harder for parents and kids to stay the course.  To not grow weary of doing good.  Because there’s just so many cool things we can do.  On my Xbox alone there are just too many awesome ways to do things and have fun with other people.  How do I navigate it?

So how do you weather it?  How do you help your children stay strong, make wise choices, and do what God asks them to do when there are just so many awesome ways to connect, have fun, and enjoy the digital world?

For the next several days, I will be talking about just that.

Too many Sundays, I interact with kids–elementary age kids–who are dealing with more stuff than I even dreamed about when I was their age.  They are being forced to grow up faster than they should, and many of them are struggling with very “adult” issues.

Kids struggling with pornography. Self-image issues. Parental abuse. Divorce, drugs, sex, stealing, lying, and stuff that I had no idea existed when I was in the 4th grade.  It breaks my heart to see them struggle.  These are good kids who need adults–pastors, parents, teachers, and friends–who will help them stay strong and follow the better way that God has created for them.

Adults who will help them find ways to enjoy this crazy new connected world without sacrificing their principles, giving up their core values, and staying true to the guidelines of scripture.

Which brings me to one of my favorite things.

Facebook.

See you tomorrow.

7 responses to “Parenting the Connected Generation

  1. Excellent first part to connecting with the connected gen. I truly agree these kids need mature Christian adults in their lives to help them learn how to maneuver through lifes pitfalls. Looking forward to tomorrow blog.

  2. Great post, Pastor Duane. You might be interested in reading the most recent Barna Group report, “How Technology is Influencing Families.” With the prevalence of information available via the internet and other electronics, children are forming a world view at a much younger age. Waiting to address these issues when they’re teenagers may be too late which is why your blog is so important. Great work in addressing such a pertinent topic. I look forward to future posts!

  3. I have been admittedly slow in opening the tech door for my 8, 10, 12 year old – first video game system (a wii) arrived in our household less than 2 years ago; none of my kids have their own iPod (I keep offering my old rockin walkman); when we road trip together its books on cd, games, reading with no dvd platers built into our odyessey minivan; and my daughter says she’s the “only” sixth grader without a cell phone at her school.

    If I as an adult find it a challenge to keep impulse control over texting, Facebook, checking email on my smart phone, a myriad of scandelous or simply interesting but empty websites, and not spending hours on end sitting in front of a screen with the latest version of Angry Birds, how much more difficult is it for kids and teens to not succumb to the lure of instant gratificationor a distracted existence.

    I’m thinking of a night I spent with my oldest daughter and several of her friends recently where two ofthe girls could not engage in a conversation or activity for more than a minute without checking and texting their other friends.

    A generation can be easily robbed of its ability to be present, to exercise creativity, to engage in meaningful face to face dialogue, enjoy the stillness of nature, and to connect to the God who is often found in our less distracted moments.

    Look forward to following your thoughts as we walk through the journey parenting and guiding our children through this digital age.

    • Sounds like we are cut from similar cloth, my friend. 🙂 I look forward to conversing with you about this and hearing your thoughts, too.

  4. Such a great post, Duane. This is very timely for me as my kids are getting bigger and starting to ask about stuff like email and facebook (at least the 9 year old anyway). Sometimes I struggle with navigating what is appropriate because this stuff wasn’t around when I was their age. Looking forward to the rest of this series.

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