Over the last few months we’ve had lots of conversations about the internet and the whole issue of social networking – texting, chatting, facebook and the like.
It is easy as parents, to just react when we see new things. I am often reminded that the organ was initially deemed of the devil, and belonged to pubs and disreputable establishments! Now it graces many incredible cathedrals and is a mainstream instrument. Unfortunately Christians have been very quick to dump new things into the devils camp without really thinking. An organ can’t be evil – evil is when we turn our back on God and an organ can’t do that! Neither can facebook! But there are many things that encourage us to turn our back against God and that is what we need to be warned against, and guard our heart against.
Technology is a part of our children’s future – unless you make some very radical lifestyle changes. For the most part, most of us are involved with technology to some degree – in fact for you to be reading this very post you are using a computer device of some sort, along with the internet. The issue isn’t to ban it but rather to help our children use it wisely, and to master it instead of it mastering them.
Here are some guidelines we’ve presented to our children:
- Remember that you represent God and family at all times – even online. Before you say anything or link to anything or post anything – think – would this be said around our dining table? Would I be happy for this to be put on the church notices or flashed up on the screen at church? This is an external check – what about an internal check – remember that God is with you, right beside you – he too sees what you say and read online.
- In Real Life relationships come first – God, Family, Friends – when we are with friends, we don’t text or chat online. We don’t organise our IRL around our online life.
- We need to monitor the time we spend online – and keep it in balance with all our other responsibilities
- All online conversations need to be available to your parents – just as we want you to be open about your IRL conversations (this means mum/dad are friends with you on FB and you are happy for us to join conversations.)
- We are careful about what we talk about not to reveal personal information – our friends probably know that about us anyway!
The character traits we want our children to exhibit while online are Cautiousness and Discretion. That may sound like we want them to be timid but these traits don’t stop us from doing anything they simply guide us as we step out and do whatever it is…
Cautiousness: Knowing the importance of right timing in accomplishing right actions. (Think before they act, follow safety rules, ask permission, do things at the right time, be aware of dangers)
Discretion: Recognizing and avoiding words, actions, and attitudes which would bring undesirable consequences. (choose words carefully, use good manners, listen to criticism, not make fun of others, turn down any invitation to do wrong)
(definitions and explanations taken from Character First)