This morning, Pastor Heath and I hosted an hour-long (turned into an hour and a half) conversation regarding wisdom and the use of technology and parenting. It was enlightening for all of us. Some things were brought up that I had not considered and some things were uncovered that some parents hadn’t considered.

Here are some highlights from today’s conversation:

  • People focus on their technology (i.e. iPhone) rather than just living life… or life is lived through what can be captured on a mobile device.
  • Using a smartphone tends to take away from life… a lot of “life” gets missed by only the idolization of the device.
  • Any downtime in a conversation, the phone/tech is pulled out. If something is boring people check out and start looking on their device. Pauses in a conversation can lead to amazing breakthroughs… conversations loses continuity when pauses are taken up with something else.
  • Cell phones (even further with the use of smartphones) have led to a lack of planning ahead. Because one can change the schedule on the fly via texts and phones messages, students (even parents) don’t need to have a pre-planned.
  • It seems people have a love/hate relationship with technology. One minute we love what it can do, and often the next minute we hate the dependence (or something else) on it.

The working metaphor was of a loaded gun. With every gun comes a safety and that safety is located and taught to the user before it is handed to them. A parent wouldn’t hand their son or daughter a loaded gun without some safety training and guidance. Like a loaded gun, what does “safety training” look like when a young person is handed an internet-connected device (i.e. iPhone, tablet, laptop, Droid, etc)? Do we even think about safeties for these type of things?

What do safeties on internet devices look like?

  • There needs to be limits. When should a teenager get a Facebook account? When is a teenager allowed to date? Should devices be used and available at all times or limited times (i.e. not at dinner time or at night in their bedroom)? YOU ARE ALLOWED AS A PARENT TO PUT LIMITS ON THINGS.
  • There needs to be knowledge. As parents we need to be knowledgeable of the kinds of devices are children are using and what they are capable of. For example, most devices like an iPod Touch, iPads, and other tablets store the wireless passwords so when you are back in range of that particular wireless network the device automatically connects to it without prompting to enter the password in again. This is for ease of use, but if a parent wants a child to not be able to access their Internet, the wireless password alone will not limit unless each time they are done on the Internet you “forget the network” (this removes the password).
  • There needs to be filters. To carry the gun analogy further, when a gun owner has many guns they usually spend lots of money on a gun case to store them securely for the sake of their family. For some reason, we as parents think we can manage the “loaded gun” Internet without any help like a filtering system (i.e. Covenant Eyes). Internet filters, while cumbersome and counter-cultural, offer a great locking and blocking system for you and your children.

The participants in this conversation wanted more specifics on different devices. For example, how does the iOS operating system handle parental controls and how does one use them? So I’m going to do a simple class on how to lock down and parentally control an iOS device. Additionally, parents seemed to want an ongoing dialogue about these kinds of topics. We shared some things that teenagers (even children) can do with an internet-video/picture-enabled device. Parents were appreciative of learning these things and wanted to know more about “what is possible?” with a tech device.