A couple of years ago, I ran across a fascinating article that illustrated the bond that technology can create in those who use it. The article described how people jokingly refer to technology as an appendage to young people, but that the joke may not be so funny. When asked, over half the teens and young adults polled said they would sooner give up their sense of smell than their technology. Though older generations may view technology as an enrichment, our children see it as essential. They use it as a way to “sense the world and make sense of the world.”
What struck me most about this article was the idea that this generation considers technology like an appendage. The device you buy becomes, in their minds, as connected to them as an arm or a leg. Ask them to cut it off and the reaction can be significant. Over half of them would call your bluff and give up their sense of smell, before they’d let you pry their fingers off their tech.
Again, the point is that the way you view the technology in your home may be vastly different from the way your children do. What is the answer, then? Just give in to the childish outburst or teenage tantrum? No, the answer is to prepare yourself to be a parent, even when you face stubborn children.
Your children may view that cell phone or game console or tablet or whatever-comes-next like a part of themselves, but you are still the parent. Even if you didn’t buy the device, that device is in your home and under your authority. You may not understand how to use it, but your children still need to obey you where that device is concerned. This Biblical admonition may have been written millennia ago, but it is still in effect today: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” (Colossians 3:20).
Some parents may be tempted to give technology to their children for the wrong reasons:
- to entertain them or keep them busy while the parent is doing something else;
- to demonstrate how cool they are in an attempt to be buddy instead of parent;
- as a way to assuage guilt over being gone or being unavailable due to commitments or situations such as work or divorce.
Technology should not be used as a babysitter, as a banner, or as a bribe. Children can be tempted to use technology the wrong way, but parents can also be tempted to give technology for the wrong reasons.
Even if your motives were not completely pure when you brought technology into the home, you can still begin to reframe it under parental authority. Whatever your situation, don’t back down where technology is concerned. We live in a new digital landscape, but you are still expected to be the parent. Our kids may be identified as the new global generation or as digital natives, but they are still our kids.
As you enter into the battlefield for the hearts and minds of your children, consider the encouragement the Lord gave Joshua and take heart as a parent: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 36 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.
 “Media and Children,” American Academy of Pediatrics, https:// www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/ pages/media-and-children.aspx (accessed November 25, 2015).