The internet is a very loud teacher. It screams, “Look at me! I can show you anything you want to see—and I can show it to you right now!” But it is the quiet voices of the caring Christian adults in the lives of young people that help them make wise and godly decisions regarding technology. So how do we do that?
The answer isn’t to ignore or banish technology. Smartphones, tablets, and the internet provide new opportunities to connect with others and gain valuable information. In fact, the digital world is so integrated into our lives that lack of exposure to technology can have a negative impact on a young person’s social life, academic success, and career opportunity. So, instead of rejecting technology, the best answer is to find ways to keep young people safe while they are enjoying its benefits. Here are a few ideas you can share with them to help them safely and successfully navigate the online world:
Protect your mind—Digital media is a doorway into another world, and much of that world is not real. Pornography, violent materials, and other inappropriate and dangerous content can invade your mind and interfere with your ability to discern the differences between reality and fantasy. The best way to know what is true and real is to measure it against God’s Word. If it aligns with God’s truth, it is right and good. If not, delete it.
Protect your reputation—Sharing compromising or highly personal information can jeopardize your reputation. And though derogatory information travels quickly around a digital community, truth is often shared at a much slower rate. Never share anything online or on social media that you would not want everyone you know to see, even if you are sharing it with a close friend.
Protect your time—Technology is a useful tool, but it can also be an addictive thief that steals your time. Monitor how much time you spend engaged with technology, and make sure you balance it with other interests and activities. Do not allow technology to distract you from investing in your relationships with family and friends. Though you may be developing virtual relationships online, it is the deeper relationships you share with those close to you that will help you when you face difficult situations.
Protect your heart—Though technology allows us to connect and keep in touch with people all over the world, it is not a cure for loneliness. In fact, virtual relationships tend to foster depression, isolation, and negative self-image, and they expose you to the dangers of cyberbullying and online predators. Instead of sharing your heart with your online friends, share it with God. He is the source of all love and comfort, and only He can bring healing for your hurts.
While the internet may be shouting, we all need to listen to and follow the guidance God is whispering to us.