September 27, 2010
Look around you. Every young person you see has a cell phone. And many of those are smartphones, which put the Internet, dozens of games, and other applications in the palms of their hands.
They're probably not checking their email on those smartphones. This is a generation that considers email passé. They're into social networking sites—sites like Facebook and Twitter. It's networking that consumes their attention and hours of their time every day--and they don't always use it wisely.
For example, twenty-eight percent of young social network users admit to sharing information online that they would never have shared in public if they were face-to-face. And 22 percent—that's right 22 percent--say that they've posted pictures of themselves or friends either naked or partially naked.
As Dr. David Murray, Professor of Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary notes, technology has changed the way we "study, play, socialize, shop, and even apply for jobs." Believe it or not, one out of eight couples married in the US met on some social networking site.
Murray, the father of four, is a firm believer in the good of technology. He is also well aware of the dangers—especially the dangers to children. After thinking through how to best teach his own children how to thrive in the digital age, he produced a short vide "God's Technology: Training Our Children to Use Technology to God's Glory." In it Murray shares biblical wisdom and applies a Christian worldview to kids and technology.
He begins with four biblical principles. First, God created technology. He made the physical elements like silicon that we use to make digital devices. He made the forces of electricity and magnetism that allow technology to work. And he made human minds and gave them the creativity to build computers, cell phones and iPads.
Second, because God created technology, it is not inherently sinful; instead (principle three) it has many good uses—including bringing BreakPoint to you every day. Finally and tragically, Murray notes, technology has been abused because we are sinners.
How does that apply to our children?
Well, because technology is created by God and has good uses, we should want our children to enjoy technology's benefits. But we can't ignore the dangers and embrace the digital world without what Murray calls "disciplined discernment." And Murray gives sound, practical parenting advice concerning Facebook, where children desperately need that disciplined discernment.
As Calvin College professor Quentin Schultz wrote in his book Habits of the High-Tech Heart, "Cyberculture offers us no means to rise above the entropic noise, no dwelling place to catch our breath, gather our wits, discern our course, and become more intrinsically moral people."
If we and our children are going to use digital technologies wisely and morally, it will be because we make a deliberate effort to apply our Christian worldview to technology.
And the video "God's Technology" is a great place to start. Visit BreakPoint dot org, click on this commentary, and we'll tell you how you can get it and other resources to protect your kids online.
Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.