Some things that don’t make any sense:
1. Giving a teenager a strict curfew when he goes out with his friends, but not giving him any curfew for social activity online.
Texting after 10? No.
Social Media after 10? No.
YouTube videos after 10? No.
Researching for my science project after 10? No.
Doing ANYTHING online after 10? So sorry, love, but no.
PS. 10pm is our number because we have older teens, and they stay up until ungodly and awful hours, but you can pick any time in your house because YOU ARE THE PARENT!
2. Making sure our kids check in periodically about their physical whereabouts, but not requiring them to check in consistently about their online whereabouts.
This I just do not understand. It makes no sense. Where is your kid going when he heads out on the online highway? Who is he visiting? Where does he travel, again and again, night after night? We would never in a million years stand on the front porch and wave goodbye as our child drove off into the world, and not expect a specific update on where he’d spent the majority of his time!?
PS. We use Covenant Eyes at this stage in our lives. Covenant Eyes is built on the assumption that someone (mostly me) is going to check in on your online whereabouts and awkwardly ask you about it in front of your whole entire family. I check in with everyone on the way to and from church each week. They all love it SO VERY MUCH!
PS. Again, Covenant Eyes is our best tool right now in this season. But there are lots of ways to check in with your child’s online activity (Net Nanny for littles….?), and you know what’s best for you and yours, because, actually, you are the parent.
3. Insisting our teens get off the roads by a certain time – “It’s dangerous out there! People have been drinking!” – but not requiring that they get off the internet highway after a certain hour.
Y’all. Our kids need some serious boundaries in regards to this matter. They do not need to be out on the internet road at all hours of the day and night, even if they are ‘safely’ up in their room. It really is true: nothing good happens after midnight, online or off.
PS. Require that your sons and daughters park their device in a public space for the night (we pick 10pm in the kitchen) for their emotional and spiritual safety and rest. Our kids will resist this of course (like it’s their job) but will also be reluctantly grateful for this considerate parental boundary.
4. Allowing any device that connects to the internet (or other people) to spend the night in our son’s or daughter’s room.
This is just foolish. I don’t know what else to say. But you can go upstairs right now and sort it all out (bless you) because YOU ARE THE PARENT.
PS. And because you are the parent, perhaps now is a good time to consider what is in your own bedroom overnight? What is the last thing that you see before you go to sleep? And what is the first thing that you see in the morning? If the first thing you reach for is your smartphone or social media, perhaps some discipline in your own habits are in order?
No online activity for an hour after wake-up?
No online activity for an hour before bed?
No online activity from 6-8 (dinner prep/clean-up)
No phones – ever, ever, ever – at the table.
5. Teaching our children respectful manners, and then allowing them to bring their phone to the table.
Nothing saddens me more than to see families out to eat and everyone is privately engaged with their individual phone. This week David and I went out for Thai food and I promise you that EVERY SINGLE PERSON was being entertained by their own personal device. Dads and daughters. Husbands and wives. Entire families in their own la la land. I felt sick.
Maybe we don’t all need to do magnificent and bold things for God? Perhaps we just need to silence our phones – leave them at home, even? – and look each other in the eye, patiently? Perhaps we need to practice seeing, hearing, and attending to the divine sitting right in front of us eating Pad Thai.
PS. Parents, you have been given much, and much is therefore required of you. Do not fear the fits, threats, and eye-rolls of your loved ones. They need curfews, accountability, rest, boundaries, boredom, and awkward silences as much as you do.
Instead, fear an enemy who would keep you and your children perpetually distracted from the true Word that brings real life. Fear the one who would steal the attention of your sons and daughters (and you) from the loveliness of Christ and his creation. Resist this enemy with everything that is in you.
Peace to you, because you have been called to something far more lovely.