The rapid growth of technology is leaving no cultural stone unturned including our families and kid’s ministries. When asked to look up a verse, kids today can quickly pull out a Kindle Fire, IPad, or smartphone. Middle schoolers are taking selfies on hayrides, grade schoolers want pictures of the slimy goo game to be posted on Facebook, and preschoolers are navigating smart phones with more comfort than their parents. Technology has reached the little people. As church leaders, Sunday school teachers, and parents, we must decide how to handle this increasing influx of gismos. Below are five principles that will help us determine when to allow kids to use that:
- Remember technology is not inherently bad or good. Smart phones, tablets, and social media are all avenues of communication. And our God is all about communication. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Our concern is the content streaming through the technology. IPads can be a sinful distraction when our kids are posting selfies or playing Hay Day during the middle of a sermon. But, smartphones can also be a huge blessing when our kids use them to access scripture or to skype with a missionary a thousand miles away.
- Don’t be afraid of what we don’t know. We all naturally drift to what we know and like, becoming products of our age or decade. Having crossed the 30 year threshold, I too am quickly calcifying. As I drive around, I’m increasingly playing the “Cool Kids” radio. Translation: I am no longer cool or in touch. But I don’t have to be scared of every new app or tablet. Even if I don’t fully understand the technology, I can still discern the content being used and its timing by asking thoughtful and non-accusing questions. I need to fight the sinful urge to judge that which is different from me. After all the church is not about our preferences. The church is God’s and is all about our Lord. Even when dealing with technology, we must fight against the desire to place our comfort above God’s glory.
- Ask questions. Ask your kids to explain how such and such works. Ask them why they use it, and ask them to tell you who they are communicating with. Once we know what content is being accessed at what time, and for what purpose, we will be able to guide your kids in their use of technology. “No, Johnny you don’t need to Snapchat because you are selfishly disrupting the class to brag about how you destroyed your Twinkie.” “That’s great Susan, I had no idea you could highlight and save the verses we looked up today on your IPhone.”
- Welcome good technology. God has used the printing press, radio, and the internet to spread his kingdom. It’s quite possible the next newfangled device our kid is using will further expand the kingdom of God. By embracing technology, we avoid offending kids (Telling kids to, “Put down your smart phone and read from the KJV” will cause them to be frustrated) and from making our immensely creative God appear to be dull and boring. God’s not opposed to new technology and the advance of science. And, we shouldn’t be either.
- Place a premium on the Bible. Regardless of what our kids use on Sunday morning, I believe it’s important for us to use a good paper translation of the Bible when teaching. By touching the Bible pages, we clearly show our kids that the Bible is real and that the words we are speaking carry an authority far greater than Facebook.
I’m curious to hear how your church and/or class handle kids using technology. What is working for you? What has been problematic?