Our teenagers have never known a world without smartphone technology. This is both good and bad. Given the bad stuff that we have walked through with many families in recent years (porn addiction, bullying, self-esteem rooted in # of likes) there is part of me that wishes it would all go away.
It's not going away.
At our Critical Conversations Event, we coach families on all sorts of things related to their kids' relationships. Social media and smart phone use is always a hot topic. If your family is like ours, you have found yourself playing catch-up. Every time you think you're "in the know" about an app or your kid's behavior online, you discover something new. It can be maddening.
You need to do everything you can to stay on top of this.
Talking about this stuff doesn't come easy. Setting parameters is even harder. But you can and you should. The hard part is knowing what to say and what to do.
There are a few essential resources that can help you.
Northpoint Community Church has given parents a few tools that can help you to have key conversations and to set reasonable (and necessary) parameters on your teenager's smartphone use. I'm sharing them here because they can provide a few key elements of your family's strategy to manage technology in healthy ways.
First, there's a great VIDEO INTERVIEW with Andy Stanley about teens and smartphones.
Click on the image below to hear the excellent advice he offers to parents. It's a bit long, but worth every minute.
Northpoint has also created a DISCUSSION GUIDE for families.
You can walk though the document together, picking and choosing those things that are most relevant to your family and your situation. Click on the image below to download the guide.
Finally, they have created a CONTRACT that parents and teens can sign.
It's pretty solid but simple agreement that parents and teenagers can use to define how smartphones will be used in your home. You can find a downloadable version here.
One additional resource they recommend (and we do, too) is CIRCLE.
This new technology helps easily manage all the internet use in your home. We absolutely love it. The Circle device (a one time purchase) covers your WiFi at home, but CirlceGo (a monthly paid service) keeps data use on the go covered in a similar way. You can find our full review and a link to order Circle here.
Remember, the issues your teenager is facing are far bigger than their smartphone.
These tools are an excellent first step to make sure your kids are using technology in healthy ways, but there's much more going on here. What your kids really need is to be equipped to navigate their identity, their relationships, their sexuality, and their eventual marriage with wisdom. That's why we wrote The Talks.
If you haven't read our groundbreaking book, it's the perfect place to begin to help your kids think differently than the world around them. It will help you to be empowered to have the conversations that your kids desperately need. Conversations about physical changes, dating, social media, porn, and all the other things that will distort our kids' view of sex.
Take advantage of these great resources, but more importantly, make sure you have a plan to guide your kids towards God's very best regarding their relationships and their sexuality.
And as always, remember that our Critical Conversations Event is always a great way to help the families in your church, school, or community get a plan to start talking at home. Watch a few video clips from the event or reach out to us to find out more.