a family covenant to keep technology in check

“. . . You come against me with sword and spear and javelin,
but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty. . . ”
~ 1 Samuel 17:45, NIV

I never thought as deeply about King David until I became the mother of a teenager. Until then, David was just a little felt guy haphazardly placed in front of a big felt guy on a Sunday school storyboard. Following some lively banter between the two crudely fashioned foes, a square rock to the forehead, and a few over-acted shrieks, the giant always came crashing down.

As a parent raising kids in a wired world, I can relate to David—only my Goliath is technology . . . and he’s not budging. To clarify: I don’t exactly see myself as the victorious version of David—I’m more like his understudy, the one you only want to call if the real David gets a severe case of mono. See, I’m not as seasoned or as certain as I thought I would be at this point in my parenting. Some days it’s as if someone changed out the script I had studied and pushed me out on to the stage anyway.

I sometimes wonder: Am I really anointed? Is God really going in with me? Is it possible for a giant to really be that big?

I’m not imagining things. The past 5-10 years have seen more technological advances than the past 30. To say to a teenager, “I’ve been your age . . . I know what it’s like,” simply doesn’t apply. The gap became too large, too fast.

My kids don’t look anything like I looked at 16. They carry shiny gadgets like life support packs. They text and post in lieu of speaking and have little wire appendages growing from their ears. They log on to get their homework, email and text their teachers, and break up with their first loves in status updates. They journal out loud in daily streams of photos, song lyrics, inside jokes, and movie lines. They download their music, hunt down apps, and see little use for things like paper and pens. They make value judgments, form digital cliques, and grow up together as “profiles” in very public forums. They naturally go to Google first.

It’s easy to feel defeated before I begin. But taking a closer look at David, he did some key things that notorious day of battle that inspired me. He took down Goliath before the battle began.

  • Others doubted. David believed.
  • Others cowered. David ran into battle.
  • Others talked. David took action.
  • Others saw the giant. David saw God.

Our kids are digital natives and face emotional and social giants we can’t begin to fathom. As parents, we must step in front of them and, like David, put the giants on notice (in God’s power):

“You come against me with sword and spear and javelin,
but I come against you in the name
of the Lord Almighty
. . . for the battle is the Lord’s, and he
will give all of you into our hands.” 1 Samuel 17:45-7, NIV (paraphrase)

This battle might be personal to you in every way but it belongs to the Lord. As God teaches you to war like David, teach your children—no matter how inadequate you feel at times or how absurdly the odds seem stacked against you.

Trust God’s power. Get out in front of the digital conversation in your home. Come together as a family regularly and pray for protection over the family bond. Communicate your family priorities, values, and expectations. Communicate them again.

Here’s a great, free resource you can download and read together: Family Ground Rules for Living Sticky (and Safe) Online. For a printable, full-color PDF, click the red “download” button. Print, sign as a family, and post the covenant near the family computer.

Are you leading technology in your family or is it leading you? What’s your greatest challenge in this area?

Post/Tweet this today:
Get in front of the digital conversation w/ur kids. Family Ground Rules for Online Time: http://bit.ly/gbMtCs #LiveSticky

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  • http://twitter.com/snidermatthew AtomicPopcorn

    Thanks for sharing, love the part that our kids are digital natives.

    I pray for my young daughters daily that they do not to give into it like I have.

  • http://twitter.com/TamiHeim TamiHeim

    With the my daughter and son-in-law living in Korea-technology is our new best friend. Okay – I’ll go as far as to say BFF. Between Skype and Facebook we stay connected to their daily life as it happens half way around the world. We share pictures, videos, and spontaneous chats. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t Thank God for the technology.

    In fact, they recently suffered through a serious tumble with the Swine Flu. Zoe Skyped in the middle of the night and we knew instantly she was in trouble. Serious trouble. Matt fell ill right behind her. That next day – in about a minute-I was able to gather an army of prayer warriors to intercede on their behalf. God broke through in a way only He can. I was stunned by the ability to mobilize an army before the throne. Awe-God!

    So that’s the good news. The not so good side of the story:

    I see families together all the time, but they are disconnected because each one is consumed in his or her own cyber scenario. The people in the present appear to be annoying interruptions to whatever is holding another person captive on a tiny screen. It’s as if it all this technology happened so fast, the world didn’t have a minute to slow down and consider that healthy boundaries might be a good idea. The Family Ground Rules for Living Sticky is a timely tool to reclaim control. It gives parents a place to start, center the conversation, and allow them work through what is acceptable and what is not online.

    For parents that desire an in-depth resource for how to lead and influence this next generation of highly wired kids, I highly recommend, Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their Future by Dr. Tim Elmore. This book is not only about the reality of technology’s influence on our kids, it gives parents practical solutions for setting boundaries. You can find the book on Amazon. It’s not too late to save their future and restore the balance. It’s comes down to a simple decision to Just Do It.

  • ToniBirdsong

    That is a great resource Tami, I’m half-way through my Generation iY book. Thanks for bringing that up. I just took a look at Tim Elmore’s site and he’s got GREAT resource on “developing the digital generation.” I’ll be spending some time there as I lasso my own family into a more streamlined plan at the Birdsong house! Here’s Tim’s link that has the great articles: http://www.savetheirfuturenow.com/youth_workers/news/. Highly recommend!

  • ToniBirdsong

    I’m with you Matt. You and I have to balance our time daily because of the line of work we are in (web, social media, et al). If we log OFF or fall behind the learning curve, our families don’t eat. So modeling balance to my kids becomes the mixed message. It’s a balancing act . . . one that requires MORE of God and less of me. Good to be having a conversation about it so it stays front-of-mind! And it’s good that the family of God can walk through this issue—together—sharing, confessing, and growing up together.

    I’ll be praying for you (and your sweet girls) in this area as I pray for my family. A really critical issue right now . . .

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