Recently I did a parenting workshop called Smart Parents & Smart Phones. It helped many families launch engaging discussions with their teenagers about the use of technology. This is the third year in a row that I have done a parenting workshop on technology because of the rising smartphone and social media issues that are happening in the home and at school.

In the process, I have discovered that most parents don’t know how to use most of the features and apps on smartphones or really know enough about social media, so these workshops have been very informative and life-changing because parents want to make changes but don’t know how.

Below are a few of the things I shared with my parents.

It’s a Heart Issue, Not a Tech Issue

The first thing that they have to realize is that it’s a heart issue, not a tech issue. They have to get to the heart of the problem with their student using a smartphone. In Romans 13:8-14, Paul explains that we cannot live in the dark with immoral lifestyles but must live in the light of following Jesus. Even though Paul was not talking about smartphones, the connection can be made to the temptation technology presents in a personalized all-access digital reality. It has never been easier to privately access pornography and explicit graphic content thanks to a smartphone in our pocket. Additionally, it is so simple to have secret conversations about all kinds of topics that are inappropriate and can lead to unfortunate circumstances.

It is pivotal to understand the addictive nature that smartphones instinctually have in their design. The smartphone has done nothing wrong, but the user is the one who is either abusing or misusing the technology. Therefore, it is essential to be a smart parent and add some level of encryption with parental filters.

Smart Parents Do Smart Things

The first question that resonated with parents was based on control issues.

I asked them, “Do you control your technology, or does technology control you?”

As Christians, we should not be dominated by anything (1 Corinthians 6:12), but that doesn’t mean you need to take phones away. Parents need to teach their students how to use technology before they receive it. Parents need to know that that engagement is better than an argument. They need to understand it is better to be interactive versus being passive. They need to be an example and model usage instead of dictating usage. Hence, smart parents do five smart things:

  • They are prepared for tech use.
  • They educate their kids on technology.
  • They learn from the experts.
  • They set healthy and realistic boundaries.
  • They interact with their kids’ culture.

Host a Parenting Workshop

It is so important to provide some form of parent training as a youth worker. We should always ask ourselves if technology is taking valuable time away from being a godly family. If the answer is yes, then these parenting hacks will definitely help. And if all else fails, just unplug the WiFi in your home or the youth room to get their attention to have engaging discussions about the use of technology!

My name is RJ McCauley and I am the Student Ministries Pastor at Magnolia Church in Riverside, CA. I have an unrivaled passion for Jesus, and a relentless pursuit to share the Bible with the next generation. I love shooting hoops and exploring SoCal beaches with my wife and daughter.