In this era of new technology and media, one of the hardest decisions Christian parents have to make is how much of an influence these worldly actors have on their children. Some Christian parents may already have a strong conviction on this issue, and others might be struggling. Still, it can be a challenging obstacle to overcome when we strive to raise our families in a Christian household while living in an increasingly anti-Christian world. What are some things we should consider?
Unfortunately, parenting doesn’t come with a “how-to” manual; we must consider how well we know our child. How impressionable are they? What’s their maturity level? What exposure to worldly influence do they already live with? Would creating restrictions on what they interact with create a sort of “forbidden fruit” mindset that struck down Adam and Eve? These are the first few notes you should make when choosing what can affect your Christian household.
We can’t shield our children from everything. If we looked at all the media they consume with an adult-only mindset, we’d want to walk behind them and cover their ears wherever they went! It’s critical to remember that kids are kids, not mini-adults. While your child might not understand the meaning of secular lyrics or images, it might awaken something inside them that they aren’t strong enough in faith or mature enough in emotion to handle. Be cautious; pseudo-maturity is a risky business for Christian kids.
Handing off your phone or the tv remote might be a great way to get a few moments of peace and quiet from your kids, but have you stopped to consider what the kids are watching/listening to during that time? As Christian parents, it’s crucial that we remain intentional. Constant vigilance is required to ensure that our children are exposed to Christ and not to the world. Christian parents must be intentional in the time we leave our children to their own devices. Setting the standard at a young age allows Christian children to know what to expect as they grow older; it’s far easier to loosen the reigns than to tighten them.
Another way to practice intention is to install content filters on phones, TVs, tablets, or computers. This ensures that your children can only view content that you approve, and can notify you when they try to see something that isn’t. Bear in mind, that this software isn’t foolproof; your attention will still be needed. Programs like VidAngel can be of great assistance by filtering movies and shows based on categories that you select.
What are the rules of the house? Perhaps the easiest aspect of Christian parenting is setting limits on how/when your children can use their devices. A few examples of device rules might be: ask permission before downloading a new app, all devices must be turned in at bedtime, and devices may only be used for so many hours a week. Establish times where children can grow closer to God without worldly distractions.
Communication is key. God asks us to communicate with Him through prayer, and we should extend that open communication to our children. While our rules can be considered harsh or reactionary, it is important that we convey our reasoning to our children. Fostering an environment based on God’s Word includes being honest and keeping an open line of dialogue so that our children know we aren’t limiting them out of fear or spite. Your children should be able to freely come to you and discuss and pray about any troubles they find with your ruleset or additional freedoms they wish to obtain.
Something for parents and children to both practice is holding your media to the cross. Ask yourself, “Is this for God? Against God? Neither?”. What media your children consume is ultimately your choice, but listen and watch together so that parent and child can both work together to make an informed decision on what is and isn’t okay for a Christian family.
Lastly, recognize God’s word on the matter. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15