“Momma, what sound does a panda make?” My five-year-old daughter stood in front of my desk, cradling her new stuffed panda bear in the crook of her arm.
“I don’t know, sweetheart. Let’s find out.” I swung around in my swivel chair and typed some quick strokes into Google—“what does a panda say”—and instantly the link to a YouTube video of actual panda bear noises appeared on screen. I clicked, we listened for 60 seconds, and just like that my daughter was mimicking the call of pandas from a remote China forest.
Maybe I’m showing my age here, but answers weren’t so easy when I was growing up.
Remember when we had to go to the library to research unknown topics? When the librarian taught us to use the card catalog so we could locate an actual book, which we then had to crack open and read in order to learn new things?
When I was a kid, my parents took me to museums where my sisters and I could see natural history up close—because there was no other path to discovery, no Internet, no YouTube, no educational apps.
I used microfiche in college, people. Microfiche.
Today we don’t need to be nearly as resourceful. In fact, it’s easy for a mom to be downright clueless if she wants. A couple weeks ago my second-grader came home with a geometry worksheet telling her to list common household objects in the shape of a triangular prism.
Thirty years ago, my mom would’ve pointed me to our old stack of encyclopedias. I just Googled “triangular prism” and my daughter drew a camping tent. Project done.
It’s sad, really. Parents don’t have to be smart anymore. We just have to pay for high speed internet.
“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” (Deuteronomy 6:6–7).
Throughout every generation, parents have been charged with a responsibility—to teach God’s words and will to our children. Technology doesn’t change that. Modern culture doesn’t modify it. Shifting societal norms do not alter God’s timeless call.
Today more than ever, we cannot afford to be dumb. Technology may help us do our job, but we must not allow it to take our place.
There are two ways to tackle this. We can reject technology, or we can use it for good.
I’m a blogger. Guess which camp I live in.
Lately I’m hearing more and more women say they’re boycotting the Internet—Facebook especially—because it has become a distraction and a time-waster. True, it can be, if we let it. I know that from experience. I’m an advocate for sending cards via snail-mail, calling a friend on the phone, or sitting face to face over coffee. I get the value of personal interaction.
Yet the age of information is here to stay, and it’s accelerating every minute. Our kids will never know anything different. The question we parents need to ask ourselves is—how are we going to harness it for God?
Instead of viewing technology as a trap, why not see it as an opportunity—to learn, love and share Jesus, and to teach our kids by example how to do the same.
Four years ago I claimed this little blog space in the name of Jesus. Many others are on a similar mission—and together we’re making a dent. In a vast online universe we reside alongside pornography, crude entertainment, social drama, hackers and viruses and greed, yet the Christian voice rises. People are hearing it. They’re reading it. They’re seeing His light shine in dark places—thanks to technology that was not available ten, twenty years ago. And certainly not when I was a child.
My parents taught me values to uphold at school and in neighborhood play groups. That’s as far as my boundaries spread. Today, however, our kids need to stand firm not just in their tangible surroundings but in the virtual world as well. Let’s show them how.
So by all means, let them play Angry Birds. But download a children’s Bible app while you’re at it, eh?
Watch the latest Kids Snippets video, great. Then plug into the TobyMac channel on Pandora. Your kids will love that, too.
Use and abuse Google to research homework and term papers, seriously, why not? Yet every once in a while, take your kids to the library to meet new friends at book club or storytime, then stick a “Jesus loves you” post-it in every Mo Willems title on the shelf.
The Internet is not our god.
Let’s show it who is. Amen?