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By: Laura Miller

As Christians we are instructed to manage our time and talents wisely, seeking God’s guidance in the way we live our lives. Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV) says, “Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

One of the most misguided uses of our time and talent manifests itself in our usage of technology. As John Landgraf says, “Information technology and the Internet are rapidly transforming almost every aspect of our lives – some for better, some for worse.” These advancements in technology render us parents the responsibility to provide guidance, counsel, and set rules and guidelines for our children with regards to technology. Our goal is to train them to use media in appropriate and God honoring ways.

Nowadays, older children are often required to use computers and smart phones for homework and various forms of communication with teachers, coaches, friends, and family. Once they head off to college, video communication is a great option to communicate across the miles with family and friends.

When to purchase devices based on cost or necessity can be a difficult decision to navigate. Prayer and family discussion about devices and usage plans can help with this. Once the decision has been made, here are a few guidelines and ideas to help get you started on technology usage and accountability.

- Chores and homework must be completed first.

- Set usage goals and track time together.

- Set content, site, or app restrictions.  Use parental controls if needed.

-  Designate a family docking station in a central location where devices must remain overnight.

- Use an alarm clock instead of smart phone.

- Have media-free times set for the family.

- Spend time reading the old fashioned way - especially the Bible.

Advise your children that you may check their device history at any time. Your role as a parent includes monitoring their media time and content usage until they are responsible enough to do this on their own. This may require extra time on your part, but time spent training them and developing integrity and trust will pay off in the future.

As they get older, rules and restrictions will change.  If there is a mis-step, deal with it promptly. If necessary, re-trace back to stricter rules until they show they are able to handle the responsibilities that come with certain media privileges.

As parents we need to lead by example in our media choices. We must model wise choices and hold ourselves accountable for our media time and management. Technology should never take the place of time reading God’s word, family time, or God’s expectations for managing our time wisely. Together you and your family can find a balance between the benefits of technology and making the most of each day the Lord has provided for you.

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