At its best kids and technology seem like a match made in heaven. But too often it seems more like a match made in hell. The youngest generations don’t understand a world without the internet, smartphones, and instant entertainment and information on demand. As a parent it’s normal to have mixed feelings about this. And you should.
If you’re a parent this probably already concerns you. If you’re not, you may have grandkids or friends who are facing these challenges. At the time of this writing a balenciaga ad for high-end children’s clothing recently stirred up controversy for its openly sexual implications. This should be something all adults take seriously.
Managing screentime is an issue for all parents of young kids not only for the mental health implications but also for the content. You well know that there are sinister forces at work seeking to hook your kids’ minds before they – or you – realize what’s happening.
We’re in the Christmas season. Perhaps you’ve already purchased some technology presents for your kids at Black Friday discounts, or plan to before Christmas. It’s wise to think about managing these open doors to your children’s minds and hearts. A smartphone or tablet without parental controls installed has been likened to leaving the garage door to your home open all the time. Not smart!
A few thoughts, and a couple resources to recommend.
Your Parental Role
In today’s world it’s not a question of if your child will be exposed to pornography; it’s a question of when. Even if you don’t allow your child to have any technology themselves, all it takes is for your child’s seatmate on the school bus or a friend at church to share something they found on the internet with your child.
Responding in fear is never helpful. But as a parent, be proactive in preparing your child for what might be coming. These categories are important:
Make talking about it normal. Nick Liberto from Proven Ministries calls this “a decade-long conversation” about intimacy, sex, relationships, family, and marriage beginning in the pre-school years and continuing until at least the teenage years. Your children learn about these things before they know they’re learning about them. You don’t want porn to disciple your children in these areas; you take that role.
Be curious. Your kids will remember how you made them feel much more than they’ll remember anything you say. Be the safe place for your children to process “stuff” with. If your child says something and you become upset they learn those things aren’t OK to talk about; you don’t want that. When your child says a word or makes a comment, put on your best parent poker face and ask a question: “Where did you hear that? What do you think that means? How did that make you feel?” And then talk about it.
Stay on your knees. No parent can do this without prayer. Accept God’s grace for your own limitations rather than dissolving into guilt or overwhelm. Watch for what the Holy Spirit is already doing in your children, and pray to be alert to any opportunities His gives you to join Him in what He is doing in their hearts. See yourself as helping your children learn to do hard things rather than seeking to protect them from everything.
Help is Available
At times it can feel that as a parent it’s you against the world. You know you have God on your side. And there are also many others who care as you do. You don’t have to be alone.
At Dr. Carol Ministries we’ve partnered with two wonderful organizations that provide powerful help to you as a parent in shepherding your children through the sex-and-tech landmines of today’s culture.
The Sex Talk
75% of parents think their child hasn’t seen porn, but 51% of kids between 11 and 13 have seen it. Those are conservative estimates. One or two “birds and bees” talk will not equip your kids to deal with the messages they receive from every direction.
But how can you as a parent be equipped? Do you feel able to have an ongoing conversation with your children about sex/intimacy/relationships/marriage? Is it too late? Does your own history disqualify you to talk about this? What do you say? How do you start?
Those are exactly the things The Sex Talk equips parents to talk about. This comprehensive and powerful online video curriculum incorporates the very best experts available. You’ll learn why addressing these matters is such a big deal, gain confidence to have a great sex talk with your kids, and be empowered to empower them to grow into who God needs them to be in their sexuality.
Watch my interview with Nick Liberto
Check out The Sex Talk curriculum. And enter promo code DOCTORCAROL at checkout for 10% off.
Many options are available for helping manage/moderate access to questionable material on your children’s (or your!) devices. Covenant Eyes started as a service to help men and women quit watching porn. They’ve expanded with resources to help parents help their children live porn-free as well.
If I were a parent giving my child a new device for Christmas, I wouldn’t do it without having Covenant Eyes on every device in the household, and connecting with Protect Young Eyes for their expertise.
Perhaps you need Covenant Eyes for yourself! When you sign up, enter the promo code DrCarol and get one month free.
Listen to my interview with Ron DeHass, president and co-founder of Covenant Eyes, from a couple years ago.
Sex Ed Reclaimed
As a parent, you know your children need to know about sex, sexuality, intimacy, etc. And you don’t want porn to be the source they learn from. You may have felt the sex ed you received was less than adequate, perhaps shame-based, or not presented with a healthy faith perspective. So you may feel inadequate in being the sex educator for your children.
Sex Ed Reclaimed is here to help! With age-appropriate faith-focused research-based curriculum, you can find just what you need to see that your children learn what they need to learn.
Enter promo code DRCAROL for a nice discount. And watch my interview with Kristen Miele to find out more.
Be the Parent
You may not be the expert in everything. But God has gifted you to be the expert in your kid.
Embrace being the parent, even in the challenging area of sexuality.
Your Turn: If you’re a parent, what’s your emotional response to the challenge of sexuality in your children’s world? What are you doing about it now? Leave a comment below.
Tweetables: why not share this post?
- How equipped do you feel as a parent to address the issues around your kids, technology, and sex? It’s not as hard as you may think, once you have the tools. Tweet that.
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