I am pretty sure that in more than one family of those who read this blog, setting a family technology policy is a priority for this coming 2012. My friend Wendy and her husband Carson wrote a policy for their own family, and I am very grateful for their willingness to share it with us today.
Sensing Family Technology Policy
The Purpose of this policy is that we honor Christ with our time and technology.
Preamble of sorts:
Wisely navigating the world of technology for our selves and particularly for our children is not an easy thing to do. At times, my temptation as a mother is to just say, “no thank you” to the whole kit and caboodle and then my life would be simpler. It really would be…. right now, but I think that it would be a real disservice to my children to not help them figure out now how to use technology in a godly fashion, and our neglect to train them up in this area would potentially be a real source of grief for both them and us down the line.
Another thought is that it would be so nice if the Bible just provided some sort of black and white list of do’s and don’ts when it comes to cell phones, ipods, computers….et al. but of course that isn’t an option either. One, because it doesn’t exist and two, because it doesn’t exist because God knew it wouldn’t be the best thing for a lazy, legalistic sinner like me. So instead, He gave me the gift of faith that I might lean on Him to help us figure out what method would be best for our family to use to honor Him with the gift of technology. I say that because I don’t think that every family will, or even should, land in exactly the same place with regard to how their family addresses these issues. I always love how Doug and Nancy Wilson encourage families to follow the principles in the scripture and recognize that there are different methods for following those principles. Feed the baby. That’s the principle. Whether you do it using a schedule or not is up to you.
So with regard to technology, Ephesians 5 and particularly verses 15 and 16 seem to be one of primary principles that would directly apply and are what has guided us as we thought through how our family should use technology.
Some of our methods may not make sense to you since you don’t know the temptations to sin that are common in our family as well as I do and that’s ok because even if you think we’re way too strict or way too lenient, I trust that God will help us tweak this “policy” wisely as we go along; and if while we’re on the way, some body else finds some thing that at least spurs them to think about what might work well for them, then so much the better. Anyway here goes our way of “feeding the baby.”
Some helpful scripture texts and articles:
Ecclesiastes 3:1 There is a time for every purpose under heaven.
We don’t believe that the various means of technology that we have available to us are inherently evil and so we think there is a place for there use. We must find how we can do that in a way that honors the Lord in the midst of the doing.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for fragrant offering, a sacrifice and us to God.
But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
One of the things about this Scripture passage is that the admonition to walk carefully and wisely and to make the best use of our time is right there in the context of the exhortation regarding how we speak. It tells us how not to speak: coarsely and crudely, and it tells us how to speak: with thanksgiving! And with psalms and hymns! So much of the trouble we seem to find ourselves in with regard to social media seems to involve what we say and so we find this passage very helpful indeed with regard to training our children in regard to the being aware of how you spend your time as well as with regard to the content of their communications with others. So often we find ourselves checking through Facebook and so many of the comments there are express hearts that are not thankful. “More homeowork! Ugh!” “Piles and piles of laundry…..” “Kids are sick AGAIN” Anyway, it would be very wise to even use social media such as this to express a thankful heart and in so doing any attraction we find ourselves having toward coarse or crude entertainment or conversations will be sanctified along the way. I don’t think this means that the only status updates that are allowable (is that a word?) are scripture passages and praise songs but we do think that words matter and that even in something that seems so trivial as this, we should watch what we say.
The following is a tremendous sermon on Ephesians 5. Even if you don’t have time for the whole sermon there is a synopsis of it at the link that is well worth reading.
Here is another link we found that had lots of Scriptural wisdom about the tongue:
In a Multitude of Texts, by Douglas Wilson
In Proverbs 10:19, we learn this: “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise” In other words, as a general rule, lots of words create many opportunities for sin. This admonition from Scripture covers all uses of words, and not just the spoken word. It includes books, articles, speeches, sermons, conversations, talk on the phone, and most recently, it includes . . . texting.
Just as teenagers talked on the phone way too much in the fifties, with their parents worrying about it, so now young people are texting like crazy, and the parents are worried, and their kids are wondering where all the concern is coming from. The concern arises from a biblical view of the world—where words are many, watch out. Watch your step. And if you resent being urged to watch your step, this is good evidence that you of all people don’t need to watch your step . . . because you already fell down.
You know you are too much of a texting ninja if you can successfully get a message off one-handed, with the phone in your pocket. But there are other indicators, more old-fashioned.
When words are many, sin is not absent. What kind of sin are we talking about? Here is a small sampling.
First, simple verbal silliness. The great Puritan Thomas Watson called careless speech “verbal scribbling.” Don’t be a scribbler.
Second, flirtation is always pleasant, and always lands you in bigger difficulties than you thought it would. You can pretend that it is not flirtation because it is “just texting,” and besides, he doesn’t have anything in mind at all. Of this you are quite assured. But you think this because you are a teenaged girl, and it is a well-established scientific fact that when it comes to the thought processes and intentions of teenaged boys, young girls are idiots. If you keep this everlasting truth in mind at all times, it will come in handy in surprising ways.
But the most obvious sin connected with all this is the simple matter of honoring your parents. If they are concerned about it, honor would share their concern instead of kicking against it. If they believe there are problems, honor would assume that they can see things that you cannot see. If they believe that you are texting too much, or too carelessly, honor would most likely respond differently than you are currently responding.
So with that all said and considered, here are the Do’s and Don’ts for the Sensings:
*No movies/TV/Wii during the school week except on Friday afternoon on the Wii after your room is clean and your clothes are ready for school on Monday.
*When the rest of the newest Psyche season comes on (in March?) we will consider whether to watch it real time or recorded for the weekend depending on how your studies are going and if your teachers are saying nice things about you. ☺
*Social Media: Sensing children may check email/Facebook or other social media (Tumbler, Instagram, Twitter….) twice a day for 15 minutes. Mom and Dad will check Facebook once a day for a 30 min. max. and email twice a day as well unless we are expecting some particular communication.
*Thomas ( our 14 yr old who is new to Facebook/email) still needs to do Facebook with Dad or Mom for a while longer.
*Monday- Thursday: All Sensings will be done with computers/ phones/ipods at supper time and put them on downstairs docking station til morning unless they have a particular school assignment that requires their computer after supper in which case they will still put them away on the kitchen counter until after supper and family worship and let Mom or Dad know.
* All other computer related recreational activities (photography, music software, skyping with a friend etc…) that take place during the weekend can be at your own discretion.
* All other computer related recreational activities (photography, music software, skyping with a friend etc…) that take place during the week need to be by permission, at least for a time, until we feel like we are using our time a little more wisely. Mom and Dad will reevaluate this in a couple of months.
*Friday and Saturday: No texting after 10 pm unless you are out somewhere and it is for communication purposes “I will meet you at the pizza restaurant on main street in five minutes” and not just “Hey! Hahahahhah” ☺
* Regardless of the day of the week or the activity that has been permitted, phones, computers, and ipods need to remain downstairs at bedtime.
Carson and Wendy have been married for 20 years and God has blessed them with seven children 17 to 3. Wendy is a dear friend of mine and being around her is always a joy. Thanks for sharing with us today, dear friend!
Now is your turn, any ideas of your own family? How are you setting limits in your home regarding all things related to technology? How do you set limits for yourself?
Grace upon grace,