This is a picture of today’s double date! Everyone is so glued to their devices that it is hard to get to know people in a real and lasting way. Sure, we know them by what they post or tweet, but is that who they are? While it may be who they are, it still lacks communication beyond emoticons and enigmatic posts.
- Doug was tired of watching his son isolate and basically refuse to communicate with the world around.
- Serena noticed that it had been weeks since she had a meaningful conversation with her daughter.
- Matt stood in the store trying to decide what to get for his phone. He wanted his first smart phone. Little did Ben, his dad, know what was ahead.
I find it hard to separate myself from the phone. My wife constantly reminds me to leave it in the other room during supper and family times. If forget to turn it down I hear that “ding” and wonder what is happening. How much harder is it for the hormone overloaded! Self-control, let’s face it, is not the strong suit of the modern teenager. How can we help them focus? On what, or whom, are we to help them focus? Here are 3 focal points.
Grades > Messaging
Before they have “jobs”, school is really their job. Focusing on grades is critical to moving forward. However, it is hard to study and focus on homework when the phone is constantly buzzing or beeping. We must help our students understand the importance of grades. For me, grades were critical for scholarships. Without them, I was not going to college. Grades, for some, are very hard to keep up. Some people are “A” students. Some are “B ” students. Some are neither. As parent we must know our child’s limits and help them stretch without breaking them. If you have a “B” student and you make the hard play for straight “A’s” you might actually have that blow up in your face. Know your student. Stretch your student. Be reasonable. Grade are more important than the messages they might miss.
Growth > Leveling Up
Trying to raise students to love Jesus and live for Jesus publicly can be treacherous some days. Putting a device in their hands presents positive and negative opportunities. They could download The Bible App, but will they read it? They could download a Memory Verse App, but will they use it. Undeniably, Candy Crush and Clash of Clans are more inviting. Do I even need to mention how easy it is to find free porn on the device you’ve purchased for them to help them socialize? No…I do not. Before you praise them for, or play with them to, leveling up, let’s consider their need for Jesus and a relationship with God as primary. I personally use Net Nanny to control the access on their devices. On the fly I can block or allow apps. Let’s us consider how they can grow in Christ before growing their clans.
Gathering > Isolating
No matter what you might be told, there is nothing like gathering personally with friends. Social interaction cannot happen on the devices. Communication cannot really be made honestly isolated. I believe we are one generation away from major neck problems! The next HUGE profession will be neurology and spinal issues. While I do say that tongue-in-cheek, the picture above is seen everywhere. People sit and tables together but say nothing. Families are in the same house but text from room to room. Families eat together but the glow of the screen beckons us to stay a while longer. We must encourage our students to engage in “analog” relationships.
Both of mine have phone and tablets. Before you go and rip the device from your students sweaty palms, take a breath. Leverage your authority and power through the ownership of the device itself. Help them see the need for grades, growth, and gathering through the limitation of device time. Reduce access to apps. Remove the device overnight. If needed, remove the device from their possession altogether. Don’t forget, as parents, we are supposed to model and train them to be followers of Christ more than our Candy Crush score. Be gentle. Be firm. Love them through these days!