I recently came across a startling statistic in a report from the U.N. that states that six of the world’s seven billion people have access to mobile phones but only 4.5 billion have access to a toilet. I have some questions about how they arrived at that information, but it at least demonstrates the high importance most of the world places on having a mobile phone constantly available. (This is not to mention the distortion relative to the need for access to good sanitation rather than a phone.)
The writer of Ecclesiastes said that there is nothing new under the sun, but the presence of all this technology complicates some old problems. Young children tend to idolize their parents and learn by imitating them. Sometimes it seems they pick up the worst habits from us. So it’s some indication of the amount of time we spend with computers in our house that our five year old is fascinated by them and will sometimes just pretend she is typing if she can’t get her hands on some kind of device.
They're have been studies in recent years about the potential dangers of young child’s fascination with touchscreen devices. Educational experts worry that there could be unintended consequences to children becoming addicted to a screen that instantly responds. But that's just the beginning of the potential dangers to our children being so proficient with such tools.
Imagine an older child or teenager having grown up with these devices. Combine that with the hormones churning within them, the pressures of friends, and the teaching of a culture that glorifies nearly any sexual expression as long as it's consensual. Now give that young person access to a device, fun apps for sharing information with friends, high speed internet, and lots of privacy: without strong teaching and parental involvement, that is a recipe for disaster.
Educators and social scientists wring their hands and grapple for solutions to heartbreaking incidents of teen on teen cyber bullying and sexual abuse. Listen here for a disturbing expose of the problem but which solutions are inadequate because they misunderstand the spiritual root of the problem and dismiss Biblical teaching on sex.
Enter Romans 1:16 that says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew then for the Gentile.” Only the gospel has the power to change hearts. The problem is not ultimately a behavior issue. The problem is not technology, nor your Internet signal. The problem is the enemy of our souls uses these new tools in new ways to destroy young people.
Between now and Father’s day on Sunday mornings at Bethany Place, with the Life Action Summit in the middle, we are going to explore this topic, Parenting in the Age of Instagram. In these weeks, we are going to walk through the major points of the gospel and make specific application to caring for young people through the unique challenges presented by their access to new technology. You can see the text and outline for the first message below. You can watch/listen to the message on YouTube here.
All People, Everywhere
Parenting in the Age of Instagram, Part 1
1. Talk with calmness, competence and convictionActs 17:16–21 (ESV) 16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.
2. Articulate the gospel in ways young people can understandActs 17:22–31 (ESV) 22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for
“ ‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“ ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
3. Ruthlessly eliminate hypocrisyActs 17:32–34 (ESV) 32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.