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Discernment in a Digital Culture, Part One

Discernment in a Digital Culture, Part One

My wife and I share concerns for the video-game and electronic culture that has overwhelmed children and young adults. Children of previous generations were often found reading books, using their imaginations, or playing outside. Children of this generation are often found sitting in front of a television screen or they’re glued to an electronic device.  Gaming has become a huge enterprise, culture-changer, and force with which to be reckoned, and parents need to be aware of what’s going on.

In recent years, both divorce lawyers and marriage counselors have attested that one of the rising causes of divorce among young 20-somethings is the astounding reality that the 20-something male is addicted to video games. These “men” have grown up in a virtual-reality world that in some ways has more value to them than the real world.

The negative effect of violent video games has been discussed in the media.  I am still appalled to walk into stores and see video games on the display counter with names such as “Grand Theft Auto.”

There is a real addictive element of video games that affects most boys more than girls. Designers of video games appeal to the male “desire to conquer” and create games that are addictive because they almost never end. There is constantly a “hook and bait” approach of getting to the next level.

Many parents are unaware of the potential dangers of a childhood culture overrun by video games and electronics. Adults give smart phones and other devices to children with no restrictions whatsoever. Talk about handing a child a loaded gun!
Josh McDowell, Christian apologist, considers internet pornography the greatest moral threat that has ever threatened the church in any generation. Josh passionately explains the awful reality that our boys are growing up in a culture with instant access to nudity and watching acts of sex.

When I was a boy, it was difficult to come across pornography. Someone had to put forth a lot of effort to do so. Today the child or teenager only has to go into his bedroom, close the door, and he (or she) can find thousands of pictures and videos with explicit sexual material—enough to make my grandparents blush.

Ten years ago, a general rule for internet safety was: Don’t allow your child to have a computer in his or her room. Keep your computer in the middle of the house where it is open for everyone to see. Well, with the development of WIFI connections and smart phones, that world is gone. Children now carry an entire computer in their back pockets—often without any safety filter.

Dr. Albert Mohler, commenting about a survey by Verizon in his article “The Emergence of Digital Childhood”, writes, The Verizon survey also revealed that many parents fail to set any rules or protections for their offspring’s use of the cell phone. The danger of this is increased when it is realized that many of these cell phones are actually smart phones with advanced Internet access and access to social media. This effectively puts a miniature computer with unrestricted Web access in the hands of very young children.

There can be no doubt that we are all now living in a digital world. The digital revolution has wrought wonders and unparalleled access. But it has also brought unprecedented dangers — and those dangers are magnified when it comes to children and teenagers. This Verizon survey should serve as a wake-up call to parents and to all those who care for the coming generation.

Mohler shares, “Childhood is being left in the dust of the digital transformation.”

What are you doing to protect your child? Please share your ideas.

By: Rhett Wilson pastors The Spring Church in Laurens, South Carolina. His blog, Faith, Family, and Freedom, can be found at www.rhettwilson.blogspot.com. He enjoys doing life with his wife Tracey and their three children, Hendrix, Anna-Frances, and Dawson. He is currently working on a book called Seven Words to Pray for My Family.

Join us at www.just18summers.com for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

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