We live in a time in which the use of technology, particularly smart phone use and other forms of screentime, is ubiquitous. As parents, it can be easy to resort to either fear or resignation when it comes to the role of technology in our family’s lives. As we seek to raise our children in the wisdom and admonition of the Lord, what perspective is helpful for us to have toward technology?
In our Co-Teacher Connection from early December, Mr. Billman talked about how technology has existed in different forms since ancient times, and there have always been those concerned about the dangers of said technology (books! clocks! etc.) So the concerns about “current” technology aren’t necessarily a new thing. However, the pervasiveness of our modern day technology is what differs from the past, as Generation Z or iGen (youth born between 1995-2010) is the first generation truly defined by the technology (internet, particularly via smartphones), in contrast to previous generations, who were more defined by war or social/cultural changes. It has affected the way they communicate with others (they often have to learn to communicate offline and often do not know how to voice dissent appropriately), their stress levels (they may view their lives as full-time jobs, particularly in maintaining a social media persona) and their emotional well-being.
So how do we as Godly parents begin to address this? First, we go to God’s Word; Mr. Billman presented Deuteronomy 6:5-9 as a vision for our families:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
To quote Mr. Billman:
“We want, first and foremost, our children to be disciples. There are a couple of implications here:
So these two ideas are really at the heart of Providence: we want our students to have wisdom, and a biblical worldview. And we believe that the family is primary in teaching and discipling. As a broader point, and we want to be careful that technology is working with us, and not against us.”
Practically, this discipleship may look different in each of our homes. One group of ideas Mr. Billman presented was the Ten Tech-Wise Commitments by Andy Crouch, author of The Tech-Wise Family. These are not meant to be legalistic rules that must apply to every family but rather a way to begin thinking about how to prioritize family relationships and consider smartphones and screen time in a more intentional way. Additionally, he referenced the Center for Humane Technology (http://humanetech.com/take-control/) for ideas on how to make our phones less enticing to us and our kids.
The intent of this talk was not to generalize all individuals born in Generation Z; in fact, Mr. Billman has been encouraged by Providence families and students at the school who strive to navigate these concerns well. Nor did he intend to demonize smartphones, the internet, or other screen-based technology, as, practically, they have come to play a pretty central role in our daily lives. Instead, he encouraged us to put technology in the right place in our homes and to be intentional with its use as we foster relationships and a Biblical worldview with our children.