We’re continuing with our series “Relate”, which looks at how relationships are changed in light of what Jesus taught about the kingdom of heaven. This past Sunday I spoke about “children and the kingdom”. Here’s a couple more of the questions which were texted in during the message:
Kids are under so much pressure to use social media today and it can feel almost impossible for parents to try and stop them. It’s like an onslaught when everyone else is doing it. What do you say to parents like this?
There’s no doubt it can feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle with your kids when you’re trying to take a stand around what’s going on in the culture. Social media is here to stay and it seems like kids are getting into it at a younger and younger age. With our kids (especially our son) it was video games. All of his friends were consumed with playing video games and many were involved in games well beyond what was appropriate for their age. We knew that simply telling him “no – you can’t play video games” was not going to be a sustainable position. So we tried to introduce him to that world gradually, with age-appropriate (and sometimes even Christian) games. We drew the line at what as inappropriate (especially violent or sexually explicit games) and told him why. We put the focus on trying to help form Cameron’s character, rather than restrict his access to the technology. And that’s a key I think. When Brett Ullman spoke here last year about faith and media he used the term “mindless consumer” – and suggested that was what we needed to avoid for ourselves and our kids. Technology is not the problem – it’s the use of it, especially when we are thoughtless or uncritical of the content. I think social media applications are similar. We need to emphasis “appropriate” and “inappropriate” uses for our kids, and take our stand on that. Let’s teach our kids how to self-regulate their use of social media. If you weren’t here when Brett spoke, I highly recommend checking out his message on this topic. Visit: https://speaking.brettullman.com/the-talks/media-faith-culture.html
What about youth?
Hmm. Not a lot to work with here in this question. But since my message was focused mostly on the value of children to Jesus and to us, I’ll assume that you’re asking if, and how, youth are viewed by the Lord and the church. The easy answer is “the same”! In Jesus’ day there wasn’t really a separate period of human development called “adolescence”. There were children and grown ups. As soon as a young child reached puberty (which happened a bit later in years in those days) a son would be apprenticed to a trade (usually the father’s) and a girl would be prepared to become someone’s bride. So the Bible doesn’t say much at all about teenagers specifically. Today we understand a lot more about this critical and distinctive developmental stage in the lives of our young people. Essentially this is a period of discovering one’s self-identity. And that often involves questioning and testing the values of their upbringing. Youth need a lot of love, affirmation and support – and a gradual expansion of their own personal freedoms. If you’re a parent of a teenager, I highly recommend the book, “How To Really Love Your Teenager” by Ross Campbell. It’s a classic. For the church, we desire to provide loving, caring and compassionate adult youth workers who will come alongside of our teens as friends, mentors and group leaders. This helps support them in their journey toward self-discovery. It’s important that when a youth wants to talk to someone (other than their parents) there is someone there with the same values and commitment to that youth who they can talk to.