by Jared Massey/ October 13, 2015
As a children's pastor and a tech lover, one of my favorite things to do is to help parents navigate the dangers of raising children in a digital world. These dangers are obvious: exposure to inappropriate material, access to strangers, and even bullying by their peers. We, as pastors, need to make sure that parents are aware of these dangers and also are equipped to deal with them as they arise. Below are a few tips to help with that.
It amazes me how oblivious many parents really are to the dangers of the online world. The first step in helping them is making sure they understand how profound these dangers really are (without putting unwarranted fear into them). Providing them with reliable sources is a good first step. Consider resources from places like fightthenewdrug.org, which addresses the danger of pornography specifically.
Parents need more than just magazine articles and blog posts. They need real, hands-on training. There are some times when this training can be integrated naturally, like at child dedication classes. I even make it a part of my premarital counseling when I talk to the couple about the struggles of raising children. Besides these times, other training times throughout the year will pique the interest of the parents who serve with you.
This generation of parents were likely teenagers when the Internet really started gaining popularity to the general public. This means many of the parents raising kids today were likely exposed to the dangers of the online world themselves. If statistics prove anything, many of them did not come out unscathed. They may feel poorly equipped to deal with the dangers their children face because of their own struggles. They need to feel supported and may need to work through their own issues before they can really help their children.
Provide Conversation Starters
Use your platform as a pastor to provide appropriate conversation starters. These may be questions you provide in a take-home resource, or something on your social media, or maybe something that works into your lessons. If a kid is old enough to use a tablet or phone (think two-year old kids who can find their favorite videos on YouTube), they are at risk of finding inappropriate content. Knowing this, don't avoid addressing these things in your lessons.
It's a dangerous world out there and the surge of mobile technologies has made it more so, but that doesn't mean it is hopeless. We can use this as a great chance to connect with parents and also a great way to bless them. Equipping parents to deal with these dangers helps make the whole church stronger and builds a sense of trust.