We are living in a world that is getting more and more complex. New technologies, new platforms for social media, and a constant flood of information and temptation surround us and our children.
We parents, together with our children, struggle to find our footing in this increasingly complex world.
It has not been easy navigating the media space with my teenagers; technology has changed so rapidly over the past decade, and the rate of change seems to be increasing.
Sometimes I feel like I’m falling behind and losing the ability to be the best mother that God wants me to be. Sometimes it feels like I am in a losing battle, constantly talking to my children about media and technology (from their perspective, I may be approaching the “nagging” threshold), and feeling frustrated when they do not respond respectfully.
So often, in the still of the night, when the family is asleep and I finally get to have some “me” time to reflect on the day, I try to make sense of the world and see things from God’s perspective.
I Am Not Alone
Often, I observe that it is getting harder and harder to teach my children about purity. I am convinced that the only way that I can train up my children properly is by sticking close to Him.
I am convinced that the only way that I can train up my children properly is by sticking close to Him.
I am reminded that I cannot parent them alone, nor am I supposed to, especially when my children are in their teenage years, exposed to all kinds of temptations. I can only do it when I walk close to Christ and follow the biblical guidance found in God’s Word (Deuteronomy 6:1–13).
What I Pray For
I petition for a few things continuously:
- I pray that God grants me wisdom to be a good role model in using media and technology, to be able to disciple my children on the proper place of media and technology in their lives. I want them to be able to use media and technology to extend His glory, so as to fulfil the Great Commission of making disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19).
I pray that God grants me wisdom to be a good role model in using media and technology.
- I ask for His wisdom to be upon my children, to enable them to be discerning regarding the types of media that they access, to be able to withstand peer pressure, and to steer away from inappropriate content. I ask God for strength and courage for them to be upstanders instead of bystanders in the online space; when they encounter situations that are unjust, I pray they will speak up at the right time and with the right words.
I ask God for strength and courage for them to be upstanders.
- I ask God to make my children salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16) for their generation—not to be afraid of new media and technology, but to use these tools to become the godly influence that He has called them to be in the world. I ask for His creativity to be upon my children, so that they can create meaningful posts, images, videos, or whatever else to bring Him glory.
Practical Actions I Take
Besides praying, I have found that I can take practical actions to help my children. For example:
We review their social media accounts together.
- We maintain transparency and accountability by ensuring that we have access to each another’s phones.
- We review our agreed boundaries on media and technology usage twice a year—in the middle of the year and the end of the year—and put them up on the wall as visual reminders.
- We review their social media accounts together, e.g., we discuss who my children are following on Instagram, why they decided to follow these people, and what they are learning from following them.
- Before my children were 13 (the minimum age requirement for many social media platforms that youths frequent), I introduced social media to them by allowing them to compose posts on my account. I would then go through the draft post with them and explain whether the words or images used were appropriate before they posted it.
- We do our best to use technology to strengthen family bonds rather than allow it to weaken our relationships. We have a family group chat and use that to encourage one another. We also follow one another on social media and put up posts that honor one another. We also go on walks together to enjoy God’s creation outdoors, capturing the beauty of nature through photography and sharing it on social media.
- We share funny posts that we come across, or articles on current affairs, so that we can discuss issues like values and worldviews. For example, when a young student made a rude gesture on television during a National Day Parade and this became a hot topic on social media, we discussed whether the act was appropriate, and why.
- We do our best to protect meal times, saving them for conversations rather than allowing screens to come between us.
We do our best to use technology to strengthen family bonds rather than allow it to weaken our relationships.
With prayer as the foundation, and practical coaching on the proper use of media and technology, I believe that our children will learn to be the city set on a hill that cannot be hidden, and to be the salt and light for their generation that God has called them to be.