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Guiding my children to use media well

 

We live in a world saturated by media of all kinds, from social media and television to video games and movies. Most of us could not have imagined a few years ago that anyone with a phone can today produce content that might be seen by millions. How can I help my children navigate through this ocean filled with toxic pollutants and the occasional pearl?

That’s a lot to look at. How do you manage the flood of information and media coming at you?

In a few months there will be three teenagers in my home. One of them is about to be given their first cell phone, and this caused my wife and I to decide we wanted to lay out our expectations about screen time for all of our kids. There are a number of things we want to address so that they will have no doubt about our emphasis on them. This includes the importance of face-to-face communication, carving out quiet time for personal devotions, and the warning that there is dangerous material they need to have an action plan for when they encounter it.

I would like your input about this agreement I am writing that lays out how I want my teenagers to navigate our multimedia world. Am I missing something? I would especially like to hear from youth leaders as well as high school and college students. Please leave your advice, stories, and suggestions below this article.

Here is the agreement, followed by some of my notes at the end.

 

Mock Family Phone & Multimedia Privilege Agreement

This agreement summarizes the privileges and responsibilities of using phones, computers, and other media as a member of the Mock household.

  1. Privilege not a Right. I understand that using phones, computers, and other technology is a privilege and not a right. If I am irresponsible, I expect to lose access to any or all of these media.
  1. Striving for Balance. I understand that having a well-balanced life means I need to be careful with how much screen time I have. I will listen to others when they are advising I take a break or pursue constructive activities.
  • I understand that the content of what I watch, read, and listen to impacts how I think and what I value. This is why my parents want me to make time for personal quiet times and to spend time with family and other people that have chosen to follow Jesus and his ways.
  1. Courteous. Because how I communicate has consequence, whether I am answering the phone, sending an email, leaving a post, or speaking with others, I will conduct myself in a courteous manner. This means I will treat others with respect, give others the benefit of the doubt, not react in unjustifiable anger, and never bully anyone.
  • I will remember that anything that is sent in an email or posted on the internet may never be taken back.
  • I will not tell a joke or make fun of an individual or group about something they did not choose or have no control over (this includes ethnicity, disabilities, and what others have done to them). I know it is better not to share what I think is humorous than to damage a friendship or ruin an opportunity to be kind.
  • When I make a mistake (accidental or on purpose) while communicating and hurt someone, I will ask for their forgiveness and seek to learn from it what I could have done better.
  • Because learning to let go of hurts and trusting Jesus to make things right is part of growing into the person God wants me to be, I will keep myself from being overly sensitive or defensive.
  1. Avoid Inappropriate Media. I understand that watching, listening, or interacting with some media is beneficial, much of it is not helpful, and some of it is destructive. I pledge to flee from all media that is destructive to me.
  • I have discussed with my parents why they hate pornography and how it destroys lives.
  • I will never take a lewd picture and I will never post or send something immodest from my phone or any other device.
  • For my own protection, I will report receiving or encountering something lewd or inappropriate to my parents immediately. If I fail to do this, I will expect to permanently lose phone and media privileges when it is discovered.
  1. Driving. The privilege of driving a vehicle has special responsibilities in regards to media that I will take seriously.
  • I will not answer a phone or make a call while driving until I have been driving on my own for at least 12 months.
  • I will not text while driving, not even while waiting at a traffic light.
  1. Privacy. I know that there are people who would do me harm and take advantage of me while pretending to be a friend. To protect me and my family, I will not share addresses, phone numbers, identification numbers, or other contact information with anyone without permission from my parents.
  • I will not share passwords or login information with anyone but my parents.

 

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Category: Fall 2014, Living the Faith

About the Author: Raul L. Mock is one of the founders and directors of the Pneuma Foundation and editor of The Pneuma Review. Raul has been part of an Evangelical publishing ministry since 1996, working with Information Services and Supply Chain Management for more than two decades. He and his wife, Erin, have a daughter and twin boys and live in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. LinkedIn

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