SEMINAR RECAP – Parenting Through Technology and Social Media

Technology
For some of us that can be a really scary word.  It conjures up images of long phone calls on tech support with a stranger on the other end of the phone walking us through troubleshooting the latest must-have gadget that promised to make our life easier.  We think about paper jams at the office and “404 Not Found” error codes… what do those even mean anyway?  At its worst, technology brings up thoughts of cyber bullying.  Pornography.  Access to strangers. Lions.  Tigers.  And bears.  Oh my.

If you’re a kid, technology is an exciting word.  It means communicating with your friends.  Anytime.  Anywhere.  It means downloading the latest games.  Taking pictures.  Emojis.  And being connected to the world around you in ways that were never possible before.  Technology means freedom.  It means fun.  And they can’t wait to get their hands on it.

Technology freaks you out.  But your kids are eager and ready to jump in.  So, what can you do?  We’ve got it.  Stick your head in the hand and hope it all goes away.  Yes, that’s it.

No!  Our highest calling as parents is to engage.  If you are a parent that is reading this we celebrate your desire to do just that.  We want to help you.  So, if you are ready… read on.

How is technology affecting us?

Overexposure to technology is associated with:
attention deficit
impaired learning
increased impulsivity
decreased ability to self-regulate

Overuse of technology is associated with:
child depression
anxiety
bipolar disorder
problematic child behavior
71% of teens have done something to hide their online activity  from their parents.

9 out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography online before the age of 18.

What good is technology?

Sounds scary, doesn’t it?  In reality, there are many benefits to healthy use of technology.  With each new iteration of technology there is a promise of more meaningful ways to connect with others, new ways of being entertained, of interacting with the world around us, access to information that helps us learn and new ways to help keep our loved ones safe and secure.  These are all good things.  In fact, you might say that healthy use of technology is marked by its ability to help us enhance our real lives.  Technology can make our lives better.  However, if this is true then unhealthy use of technology would necessarily detract from our real lives and cause us to become isolated.  Technology has the potential to make our lives worse.  Its all about how we engage with it.

Quick Fix versus Long Term Game

We often look for easy answers to questions.  Tell us what to do and we’ll do it, right?  When it comes to technology though what is often required is intentional, consistent, ongoing dialogue to help our children develop a healthy relationship with technology.  In the next section we will attempt to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about technology.  Be prepared for answers that will require you to be actively engaged with your kids and up-to-date on what they are doing to help them navigate this new world.

At what age should I give my child a phone?

Instead of looking at your child’s age, we would suggest that you consider a few other factors.  Specifically, you may consider whether they need a phone, whether they are responsible enough to have a phone and if they would benefit from having easier access to their friends.

Do they need a phone?

If your child is playing after school sports, walking home from school, going to the movies with friends on the weekend or if they need to be in touch for any other reasons a cell phone may be a good idea.   Although they may ask for the latest iPhone, you may consider that your child’s first phone does need to be a smart phone.  Their are many inexpensive phones that would give your child the ability to make calls

and send texts that would address the need to be connected.  This could allow you to have the convenience and peace of mind knowing that your child is simply a call or text away without giving them full access to the world of information they may not yet be mature enough to handle.

Are they responsible?

This one is pretty easy.  If your child is constantly losing things like their backpack, homework or toys then it might stand to reason that they

could lose their very expensive phone too!  Additionally, if they have a

habit of not taking especially good care of their things… well, you get the idea.

Are they missing out on any important social interactions?

Whether we like to admit it or not, the way kids communicate with each other has changed.  Kids plan the weekend activities via text, they talk about what happened at school via text, they send pictures to each other via text, they do everything via text.  In fact, a recent study found that young people between the ages of 18 and 24 send and receive an average of just over 128 text messages per day.  That is an average of 3,853 per month!

So, when you child says that they are not getting invited to things, that they are missing out on what’s happening with their friends at school and that they are feeling left out their may be some truth to their concerns.  We’re not suggesting that you need to get your child a phone or their future social life is doomed… but this is factor you may want to consider.

What is an appropriate amount of screen time? 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines previously suggested that zero hours of screen time for kids under age 2 and two hours between the ages of 2 and 18 was most appropriate.  For a long time, this was the gold standard.  But as technology has evolved, newer guidelines have been updated to incorporate the changing technological landscape and to address findings in more recent studies as well.  Among the most important changes is the idea that not all screen-time is created equal.  For example, on any give day your child may participate in any of the following:

Watching TV, reading, and listening to music

Playing games and browsing the Internet

Video-chatting and using social media

Using devices to make digital art or music

We all understand that using a computer to make digital art is inherently more beneficial than watching TV and so greater emphasis on the way that screen-time is being used should be taken in to consideration.

You might also ask how screen time (or lack of screen time) affects your  child’s behavior.  For example, if after spending an hour watching TV your child is more irritable, tired or temperamental you may consider having them spend less time watching TV.  Here are a few questions that will help you make the best decision for your child:

Are they using high quality, age appropriate media?

Is their behavior appropriately positive?

Is their screen time balanced with plenty of healthy screen free time?

If the answer to these questions is yes then you are likely on the right track.

Most importantly though, be sure to model appropriate use of technology.  Have healthy boundaries for yourself.  At the end of the day, regardless of what rules you put in place… the best predictor of your child’s future relationship with technology is what they see you doing.  So, if you have agreed upon tech-free times, locations, etc. be sure an honor those rules as well.  If your technology use is getting in the way of authentic relationships with the people in your life, some changes are in order.  Don’t just say it.  Live it.

How can I monitor screen time and what my kids are doing on their devices?

For starters, always have access to your child’s phone.  No need to be secretive about it.  Know their passcode and check their phone often.  Recently, a parent suggested that they couldn’t check their child’s phone because they changed the passcode.  Their child wanted privacy.  You wouldn’t allow them to change the lock on their bedroom door, would you?  You are the parent.  More than likely, you pay for the device.  You might even say that its your phone.  You simply allow your child to use it.  So have courage.  Have conversations up front about the kind of access you want to the device.  You can do it.  We promise.

If you are concerned about what your kids may see online their are some steps you can take to help protect them.  First, consider contacting your internet service provider to see what protections they can offer on your home network.  Second, research and implement how to setup parental controls on the device itself.  And finally, you may want to consider a monitoring service that will allow you to have further control and oversight of your child’s device.  Their are many good options and any internet search will yield some great information.  We checked out a number of these services and would suggest that you give these few a look:

FamiLoop — https://www.familoop.com

Netsanity — https://netsanity.net

Disney Circle — https://meetcircle.com

It is important to remember that these tools are simply conversation starters.  If these services make you aware of some troubling use, go talk to your child about it.  Remember, no one solution is perfect.  The best protection your child has online is you.

Additionally, be curious about what they are doing.  Use the device together with your child.  If they are playing a game, sit down and play with them.  If they want to download a new app, download the app and use it with them.  Be prepared to have lots of conversations.

If you are not sure how to start those conversations, here are a few tips to help you get started.

Conversation Starters

Always remember to ask open-ended questions.  In other words, ‘have you seen anything bad online?’ does not lend itself to a conversation.  The answer is either yes or no.  Ask questions that will spark a real dialogue.  We’ve found these questions to be extraordinarily helpful:

What have you seen recently that was really interesting?

What’s the craziest things you’ve seen your friends doing?

What is something that has surprised you?

Can you show me how? Let your kids be the expert!

You will be amazed at what your kids will share with you.  Remember, they are just as curious about what’s out there as you are.  Its a great big world out there.  Don’t send them off alone to figure it out.  Commit to go on the journey with them.

Encounter.  Formation.  Expression.

One of the things we talk about at Port City Community is the idea of Encounter, Formation, Expression.  The basic concept is that what we encounter in life will help to form what we think and believe.  What we think and believe will inevitably show up and be expressed in what we say and do.  As parents, part of our job is to help our kids maneuver in a world that is ever changing and build a solid foundation in Christ.  When i comes to technology, we need to remember that what they encounter is forming who they are.  We can’t protect them from having bad encounters, but we can help them think through how these encounters are forming their identity.  The only way we’re going to know about some of the things they encounter is to have a real relationship with them and ask them questions.  When the door seems to be shut, we need to keep knocking so we can let our kids know that we love them and want what is best for them.

Get a PDF of the seminar recap – parenting-through-technology-and-social-media-re-cap

Get the digital book “Right Click” – right-click-digital-edition

Four Questions Every Parent Should Ask About Social Media

  • This article was copied from theparentcue.org

Want to know how to engage with your kids about the subject of social media?

I have two words for you, “Be curious.”

Want to know how to do that? My approach is simple and so short it’s smaller than a tweet: “Read less minds, ask more questions.”

So often as parents, we put tremendous pressure on ourselves to guess what our kids are up to. Like CSI detectives we take clues from their lives and try to piece together what we think is really going on in their tiny little heads and hearts.

Instead of investigation though, let’s start with conversation.

I have four questions you can ask your kids.

And because parents are some of the busiest humans on the planet, I’m going to keep this quick and short, knocking out one question per blog post.

Let’s jump right in with the very first question you should ask your kids about social media.

Question #1

How are you using social media right now?

Start off by just taking a casual, informal survey of what sites or platforms your kids are using. Are they reading blogs? Are they using snapchat? Are they texting? (Remember, social media is bigger than just twitter. It’s any technology that lets you share a piece of your life with someone else.)

When you ask this question, make sure your kid knows there’s not a right or wrong answer. You’re not trying to start a cross examination, you’re trying to start a conversation.

If they’ll share how they’re using social media, ask them what they like about it? Be curious about why they use it. Is it to connect with friends? Is it to learn about new music? Are they expressing a hobby or interest through social media? Do they even use it? There’s a million ways your kids can answer this question, but one thing is for certain, they won’t answer it unless you ask.

If they don’t answer at first and open up a long, meaningful conversation that involves Chamomile tea, you should probably give up and assume you are the worst parent ever.

Or, you can admit to yourself that parenting is a marathon not a sprint. If we’re going to be curious about what our kids care about, we have to be patient.

If you get a grunt response, a “nothing” or a “I’m a toddler, I don’t use social media mom,” that’s OK.

Stay curious, and let your kids know you’re here to help them navigate the ins and outs of growing up in a connected world of social media.

Question #2

Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it’s the secret to starting conversations with your kids about social media.

It’s on us as parents to take the initiative and create a space where our kids can openly talk about the way they are engaging in this wildly engaging technological phenomenon.

In the first post we learned to ask the question,

“How are you using social media right now?”

Today, we’re going to dive into question number two: What do your devices do?

When I was a kid, if I wanted to play Excite Bike on the Super Nintendo with my friend Dave Bruce, Dave Bruce had to come over to my house. In college, if I wanted to play Goldeneye on Nintendo 64, no one could be Oddjob that’s cheating, I had to have friends come to my dorm room. Now, if your kid wants to play Call of Duty with someone in Japan they can.

We live in the age of the connected device, but sometimes we parents forget that. We forget that you can play Minecraft with complete strangers. We forget that an iPod Touch might not be a phone but it can still be used for social media. We forget that even websites designed for kids might offer them access to email.

That was a wake up call for me. My daughters were using two sites that were about dolls. One site let them email other members of the site with pre-written messages like, “Have a good day!” or “Hooray for rainbows.” That’s harmless for an 8-year-old. But the other site let them write their own messages. Without me realizing it, my kids had received their first email address. I’d love to think that every other member of that website is a kid with the best of intentions in mind, but I’ve spent too much time online to trust that.

I didn’t know about that email address until I asked my kids a few questions.

In addition to having this conversation with your kids, you should also ask Google “What do my kids’ devices do?” Spend a little time researching to get a better sense of what’s really going on with the fun devices that your family has.

The days of playing Mike Tyson Punch Out alone in my living room are over. The colors of the ’80s might have made a comeback, but the isolated devices won’t. We live in the age of connectivity. Find out how your kids are connecting by connecting with them.

Question #3

The Bible is pretty clear about the exact age that you should give a kid a phone. King David gave one to Solomon when he was thirteen. Joseph and Mary gave Jesus one at eleven, but he was the son of God, so he could probably handle the responsibility of an iPhone better than your kid. If you add up those two ages and divide by two you get 12, so easy  to figure out.

If only.

I’d never tell you the exact age a kid should get a cellphone, laptop or tablet in the same way I wouldn’t tell you what age your kid should get their license. Some kids are ready when the state says they are ready. They are mature and able to make you feel safe the minute they get behind the wheel. Other kids need more time to mature beyond the “jump-the-car-off-a-huge-dirt-piles stage.” (The poor Duke brothers from Hazzard county never reached that level of maturity.)

So today’s post won’t focus on the question, “When should your kid get a phone?” but instead will focus on a different question you need to ask your own children, “Which of your friends have devices?”

Why do you need to ask this question? Because not every parent thinks the same way. You might decide that in your house, no one gets a smartphone until they’re in high school. Your daughter’s best friend got one in the fifth grade though. So although your child might not have a phone with access to all the wonders and woe the Internet offers, she does now via her friend. You might think you don’t need to talk about technology to a fifth grader but if the friend whose house your son is sleeping over has a tablet, you need to talk about it. Earlier than you think.

So sit your kids down and ask that question, “Which of your friends have devices?”

As with any question about technology, start a conversation, not an accusation. You don’t want your daughter to think just because her friend Jill has an iPhone, her parents have made a bad decision. Or that Jill has done something wrong.

I asked my daughters this question recently and it started a great conversation about technology. They don’t have phones yet but we were able to discuss their expectations and come up with a rough plan for the future.

Stay curious. Ask questions. You don’t have to be a technology expert, but you do have to be invested if you want to stay connected to your kids.

Question #4

The other day, my 11-year-old daughter added a stock quotes widget to the dashboard of my wife’s laptop. Without talking to either one of us, she figured out how to track four stocks her class is studying.

When I asked her about it she said, “It was just easier with a widget instead of going to the NYSE all the time.” I nodded my head in agreement as if that was the most obvious thing in the world, all the while thinking to myself, “Someday I am going to work for her.”

Our kids come by technology naturally. Have you ever seen a 3-year-old use an iPad? It’s incredible. They scroll and swipe and expand like they were born with the devices. That often makes us nervous. We worry that as they get older, technology will become a dividing factor in our homes. We envision teenagers stuck on their devices, wearing headphones and being physically present but emotionally absent from family vacations as they refuse to look up from their devices.

But what if there was a simple way for us to connect with our kids who are online? I believe there is and it’s the 4th question parents should ask kids about social media. Here it is:

“Have you seen anything interesting lately?”

This question makes the Internet a two way street and I actually learned it from my own children. Right now, they often ask me if anyone has posted new cat videos on the Internet. That is without a doubt their favorite use of the Internet. Every few days they ask me that, hoping that someone in the world wide web has filmed a cat doing something humorous.

I assure them the answer to that question will always be yes. For the rest of their lives they will always be able to find a new cat video online. But as they get older, and continue doing things like tracking stock on their own, the question is bound to shift.

I will be the one asking it. I will be the one asking them if they’ve seen anything funny or silly online.  I will be the one asking if there’s a song they like or a blog they’re reading. I will be the curious one.

Maybe for you and your son it will be about extreme sports. You’ll have a shared interest in videos of people doing ridiculous motocross jumps. Maybe it will be music focused with your daughter or sports scores or any number of things.

It’s a big Internet with a lot of possible connection points. If we’ll ask the right questions.

If your kids are online or using the Internet at school already, flip the tables on them and be curious.

Don’t wait for them to start a conversation. Start one of your own by asking,

“Have you seen anything interesting lately?”

 

Parent and Small Group Leader: A Child Needs Both

  • This Article was copied from justaphase.com

Last Friday you put on some tunes and busted a move in front of your totally-mortified middle school sons. Then tonight they came home from the dance doing the sprinkler, just like you taught ’em—only they gave credit to Jeff, their small group leader. What gives?

And it’s not just your own kids, either. One of the toddlers you teach at church lost it over a missing toy on Sunday. You tried to talk her through it with no luck. In the end all she needed was a big hug from mom and the tears dried right up.

You might be wondering if you’re doing it all wrong. You’re not. 

You’re simply living the reality that kids benefit from having solid relationships with adults both inside and outside of the home. That’s because some things are better received from parents. Other stuff lands easier on the ears when it’s coming from anyone but mom and dad.

And hey, that’s just a part of what makes this dynamic duo—parents and small group leaders—so powerful. Your influence in each role matters. 

Parents lead the way. 

Besides the whole “put a roof over their head and food in their mouth” thing what, exactly, do parents offer kids that they can’t get anywhere else? Historical knowledge. No one knows a kid like mom and dad do.

Related Reading: 5 Ways to Reactivate Parents Every Year

Seriously. You can conduct all the studies and read all the research and every individual kid will still be exactly that: an individual. Every kid is nuanced, unique, special. And only the folks who are there in the wee hours of the morning and cuddled up before bedtime at night—only those people know what a kid is truly like and what they really need.

And we don’t even have to mention—but we will—that no one, and we mean no one, loves a child like a parent loves a child. It’s a magical thing.

Then why do kids need more than just their parents? Well, parents start out with this thing called low relational influence. Newborns don’t need to connect with parents as much as they need to be cared for by parents. Feed me, hold me, help me fall asleep.

But the jump from baby to toddler to graduation happens fast. Crazy fast. Which means parents aren’t really raising kids. They’re raising adults.

Managing the transition is tricky. As a parent you’re trying to slowly increase your relational influence and decrease your “because I said so” influence. It can be pretty tough to get right.

This is where the church comes in.

Churches work with kids of all ages every week. That means they have a good idea of what life will look like when a teen goes from ninth to tenth grade and a toddler becomes a preschooler because they see the shift happen year after year. With this knowledge, churches can help parents prepare for what’s ahead.

This is why Small Group Leaders are so important. Just like a parent is an expert on one kid, Small Group Leaders are experts on a group of kids in one phase of life.

As an expert, small group leaders learn everything they can about the phase of their kids. Then, and this is key, they show up. Week after week, month after month. Small Group Leaders offer a consistent, non-parental adult presence.

Related Reading: Can You Influence Someone You Don’t Know?

Studies show that kids who have regular, positive adult influence outside the home are more likely to win in life. And every kid, no matter their age, needs a leader who shows up.

Preschoolers need a consistent adult because they can be terrified of an unfamiliar face.

Elementary kids need a consistent adult because they will tell anything to a stranger.

Middle schoolers need a consistent adult because nothing else in their life is consistent.

High schoolers need a consistent adult because they only trust people who show up.

Related Reading: The One Thing Every Kid Needs the Most

And really, that’s what we’re talking about here. Adults who show up. In the home and out of the home. Because every kid needs someone who knows their history. And every kid needs someone who can rediscover them now.

Seven Things a Daughter Needs From Her Dad

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This article was copied from www.allprodad.com

7 Notes You Should Write to Your Children

Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell has shared with me about how he wrote many letters to his daughter in college, but she never said anything to him about it when they spoke on the phone or when they saw each other. He wondered if she ever even read them. One day when Jim was visiting her in her dorm room, he saw all of the letters he had written to her opened and proudly posted on her bulletin board!

Your children may not express their enthusiasm about your notes or even acknowledge getting them, but know that writing notes to them will impact their lives and always be remembered. Over the years, I’ve made it a practice to write notes to each of my children. I’d like to share the kinds of notes I’ve written and then show you how you can write those notes to your children as well. If you don’t feel like you’re the writing type or don’t know what to say, I’m going to try to give you some ideas and specific things you can say in your notes. Some of these notes you’ll write one time; others will be notes you’ll want to write on an ongoing basis when you can.

Here are the 7 notes you should write to your children:

1. Love note.

This is a note where you express your unconditional love to your children for who they are and validate their wonderful gifts. You can read what I wrote to my children in my How to Win Your Child’s Heart blog post.

2. Lunch box note.

Another way to uplift our children is to slip them a note in their lunchbox. My wife, Susan, and I found that just simply letting them know we’re thinking of them will encourage them through the day. Not sure of what to write? How about, “I love you,” “I’m proud of you,” “Have a great day,” or “Hope your test goes well.” You can even surprise them with a “Let’s go for ice cream after school” note. I’ve got some free, downloadable lunchbox notes for kids and teens you can use to get started.

3. Post-It note.

You can write little notes to your kids on yellow sticky notes and put them on their mirror, dresser, notebook or anywhere you want. Like lunchbox notes, these post-its are just quick words of encouragement to your kids. You might just say something like, “Way to go. An A in math! Awesome!” or “That was so nice that you encouraged your brother when he was down.” You can check out my How to Love your Family with Sticky Notes blog to see how we do it in our home.

4. Pillow Talk note.

As our children were growing up, Susan began to feel as if all communication with them was becoming instructional or disciplinary. So one time, she grabbed a spiral notebook, wrote a note to one of our daughters praising her for a nice thing she did for her sister and put it on her pillow. To my wife’s surprise, my daughter wrote back and placed the journal on her pillow. As a result, Susan developed the Pillow Talk journal so parents, like you, can write short notes of encouragement to their kids when they desire.

5. Forgiveness note.

Every parent makes mistakes in child-rearing. And every parent should ask their child to forgive them for those mistakes.  Sometimes a verbal, “I was wrong, would you please forgive me?” is appropriate. Other times, a written letter to your child is the way to go. Write to Right a Wrong.

6. Blessing note.

There is something inside every child that makes that child crave a good word from his or her parents. [Tweet This] When we bless our child, we are placing our “seal of approval” upon them and giving them power to prosper in many areas of life, including marriage, children, finances, health, and career. In addition to writing a note of blessing, you can also have a blessing ceremony.

7. College and career note.

Another thing I’ve done for my children is to memorialize, in writing, the most important things I tried to instill in them as they were growing up. Three of our five children are now in college or working.  Before they left our nest, there were four things that Susan and I taught them and always want them to remember. Here are the four things I penned to each of them.

Nine Things Parents Should Never Say to Their Kids

Nine Things Parents Should Never Say to Their Kids

Phase Maps – “It’s Just a Phase”

At our last Parent Network event Kristen Ivey shared with us a few “Phase Maps” that will help us as parents navigate our kids through a few key areas of life.  Click below to download the maps for Authentic Faith, Sexual Integrity and Technological Responsibility.

Authentic Faith Phase Map

Sexual Integrity Phase Map

Technological Responsibility Phase Map