Family and Media
Here are some questions that you need to ask about your family and the devices you use. You can take these questions and go to the extreme and demand you see every message your teen sends out, but I doubt that is the danger that we are facing today. Rather, I think the extreme we see is the opposite and deadly danger, the hands off, ignorance is bliss approach.
So, I encourage you to ask yourself these questions and let them start some conversations with your family.
1. Do I know how much my teen is using their device?
Perhaps for some circumstances a better question would be, “Can I think of times when my teen is not on their device?” Do they use it in the middle of the night? Are they using it during meals and other family times? Are they using it when they should be personally engaged with someone else or something else (like school work)?
How about you as a parent? Are they picking up their habits while watching you?
2. Do I know what my teen is using their device for?
Are they listening to music, watching movies, surfing the internet, texting friends, or reading books? Do you know what their devise is capable of? The answer is, their device is capable of pretty near anything. You may want to see what apps they have installed and what those apps are capable of doing (for anyone wondering, an “app” is short for “application” and it is a program that enables you to do something on your device.)
3. Do I know who my teen is listening to with their device?
Who are they following? Whose pages do they frequent? Who is sending a stream of information to your teen through their device and how is it shaping their worldview? With a doorway into everything and everyone in the world (good or bad) in their pocket, don’t be surprised when you see changes in your teen.
4. Do I know who my teen is communicating with on their device?
“Texting? We don’t even have a plan.” Wrong answer. Any Apple device can send instant messages through iMessage and a number of other apps. Android devices have plenty as well.
“Their iPod can’t make calls, right?” Wrong.
Are they writing comments, receiving pictures, or sending videos?
The point of asking these questions is to get a better understanding of what is actually going on. Once you can make a determination of what is happening, you can be better prepared to guide your teen into wisdom.
Please don’t let these devices be chains which enslave you or your family. May they be blessings for your growth.