Help! I Messed Up with My Kids' Technology – The Gospel Coalition

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As a counselor, I’ve observed how social media affects young people in serious ways. Kids who were given devices too soon, without education or discipleship or much accountability, are now wrestling with significant issues, such as addictive tendencies, depression, discontentment, anxiety, eating disorders, bullying, risky behaviors, and FOMO.
Rather than being a source of wisdom, social media can breed a value system that leads youth away from Christ and a biblical worldview. It promotes worldly wisdom, and you’ve inadvertently granted them access to that world.

It’s a common parenting misstep; we often take our cues from what other parents are doing. We assume that if families around us, especially Christian families, are allowing such things, then it must be OK. Maybe you didn’t want to deprive your child of something that it seemed like everyone else had. Maybe you feared being typecast as “the only parent,” “overly protective,” or “too strict,” or as preventing your children from advancing with their generation. These fears take our eyes off evaluating what is wise and good, and toward an ideal everyone else seems to have found.
In hindsight, it’s easy to see how this approach can lead to regrettable choices, with grievous results for your family. Perhaps your daughter’s world has been shaped and consumed by social media. Maybe your son has been enticed and trapped by online pornography. Maybe your home falls silent as everyone lives in their own world, vaulted off relationally from one another.
You are not alone. Many parents are asking themselves why they went with the current—why they didn’t jump ship when they saw the warning signs. But this isn’t the end of the story. There is hope.
God’s mercies are new every morning. Here are some steps you can take.

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Own and confess any poor decisions and acknowledge your regret. It’s best to own the regrets you have in front of your kids (I’ve done this myself!) and to be able to say, “I wish I would have….” Doing it in front of our kids helps them to see our hearts, that we are human, and that we have regrets (as well as the right way to handle regrets).
Then trust that God takes even our failure and brings beauty out of ashes.
Every parent can look back over their parenting journey and identify things they’d do differently if they could. All you can do now is recognize the choices you’ve made, evaluate why, and ask the Lord to give you wisdom in moving forward.

Many parents are asking themselves why they went with the current. But this isn’t the end of the story. There is hope.

Move Forward

Many parents are asking themselves why they went with the current. But this isn’t the end of the story. There is hope.
Now what? Is it too late for my kids? Have I lost them in the abyss of social media, technology, and the values of this culture?
It’s never too late.
It may be much harder, but it’s never too late. Pursue your children. Be relentless in wooing them back into relationship with yourself and toward the Lord. Patiently camp on the doorstep of their lives. Winsomely engage them and wait till they let you in. God is able to redeem all that is lost and broken.
Here are some practical tips I recommend for moving forward with your children:

  • Before you do anything, pray (1 Thess. 5:17). We can bulldoze our way into the lives of our children, or we can endearingly win them over. Ask God to give you discernment to know how to approach your children.
  • Look for ways to engage them relationally, even when they resist. What are their interests? What gives them enjoyment? Find ways to connect to their world and show you value them. Go to a movie, take them out to dinner or to coffee, go for a hike, or offer to participate in a favorite pastime. The more they feel known and understood by you, the more likely you are to gain trust.
  • Connect with them online. While they may hide on social media, you’ll also learn a great deal about how they present themselves to the world. Learn as much as you can about what captures their affections. What entices them about certain sites, people, or things? Where does it reveal their values, temptations, or struggles? This will give you insight as you pray for them and try to speak into their lives.
  • Ask reflective questions. Instead of simply confronting them on all the negative influences—materialism, immorality, unhealthy relationships and comparisons, envy, crude talk—ask what they think about things people are posting. Let them tell you how they’re experiencing life online.
  • Help them develop critical thinking. Find thoughtful ways to process alongside them the worldview they’re absorbing. Rather than going into lecture mode, invite conversation—even disagreement. We want our children to learn to discern good from evil, to debate and dialogue in ways that spur them toward truth.
  • Paint a better picture for them. This world paints a vivid picture of pleasure, identity, success, beauty, romance, and morality. But you and I can do better. What God has to offer is so much more fulfilling, and it’s our joy to woo them to all that truly is life-giving—a kayaking trip down a river, laughing during a family game night, celebrating a wedding, honoring someone’s fruitful ministry, and seeing how God’s laws make beautiful, logical sense.

It’s tempting to become discouraged when we think our kids aren’t responding. Galatians 6:9 reminds us to not grow weary in doing good, trusting that we will “reap a harvest if we do not give up” (NIV).
Do not give up. Persevere in pursuing. The more we work hard to plant God’s truth and his ways in our family, the more opportunities we’re creating for it to bear fruit. Point your kids to what is good, right, and holy, then trust God to move. He is faithful.
Julie Lowe is a counselor and faculty member at Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. She holds a master of arts in counseling from Biblical Theological Seminary and is a licensed professional counselor with more than 22 years of counseling experience. She has authored several books, including Childproof: Parenting By Faith Not Formula, Building Bridges: Biblical Counseling Activities for Children and Teens, Helping Your Anxious Child: What to Do When Your Worries are Big, and Teens and Suicide: Recognizing the Signs and Sharing the Hope. She and her husband, Greg, have six children and serve as foster and adoptive parents.
Even if ‘The Rings of Power’ is aesthetically faithful to Tolkien’s source material, is it thematically faithful in its narrative?


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