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Discernment in a Digital Culture, Part Two

Discernment in a Digital Culture, Part Two

We parents need discernment in this digital age.

Children need to run and play outside in a world of forts, outside adventures, swing sets, and bicycles. Children need some boredom—not a world where every moment is crammed with a digital image. Boredom can foster the use of imagination and creativity. How many great inventions, books, or other masterpieces were born out of boredom?

Children need to learn how to engage in verbal communication, listen to other people, converse, show interest in others, and show respect to adults by listening, talking, and answering. They don’t need to almost constantly have their noses in digital devices. They need to be trained to sit, to listen, and to talk! As I tell my children sometimes, “Life is not mainly about entertainment!”

And children need to learn to love to read. One survey of great people from history attempted to discover a common denominator that shaped these persons. The one commonality was that each of their childhood homes contained more than 100 books. C. S. Lewis stated that boys have to be trained in matters of taste. 90% of boys will always gravitate toward things they do not need but want. Unless otherwise directed, they will choose to play a video game rather than read a book. You as the parent must help shape their tastes.  Just as we don’t allow them to eat what they want all of the time, we must help to direct their spare time as well.

R. Albert Mohler writes, The most direct enemies of reading in the lives of today’s boys are video games and digital media. These devices crowd out time and attention at the expense of reading. Spence cites one set of parents who tried to bribe their 13-year-old son to read by offering video games as a reward. Spence is exactly right—don’t reward with video games. Instead, take the games away. If parents do not restrict time spent with digital devices, boys will never learn to read and to love reading.

The Christian should be a student of the Scriptures, and this requires the discipline of attentive reading. Are we creating a generation that cannot worship or read without the need for a dopamine release? The digital revolution has brought wonders and opened new worlds. There is so much to celebrate and appreciate. At the same time, there are real dangers in these new technologies, especially for children. Parents must set and maintain boundaries for their children . . . and for themselves.

When our children were preschoolers, we worked hard to help them understand that they could not play video games if we saw that they were being controlled by the game.  In other words, if we saw that their behavior, attitude, and moods were negatively affected by them, then they lost the privilege. And, very simply, if they cried and resisted when we told them that their time was up, then they weren’t mature enough to play. Why? Because too much digital world time can control people’s minds and spirits. As Christians, we are to exhibit self-control and Spirit-control.

We have tried time limits, which works well. We have designated days of the week as “no-game days.” Other times, we have observed a no-digital media Sabbath on Sunday, the Lord’s Day.

Jesus Christ taught that the “eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness” (Matthew 6:22-23).  In other words, what goes in the eyes affects the entire person.

May we do our part to raise our children and to be people whose minds are set on good things and controlled by the Spirit of God (Ro. 8:5-8; Phil. 4:8).

What are you doing to protect the hearts and minds of your children from negative digital influences? Please share your tips! We love to hear from you.

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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