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Parenting: ChildhoodParenting: Early YearsParenting: Teens and Beyond

Big Tech’s Battle for Your Child’s Faith and Attention

I’ve heard people say today’s teenagers are more connected than ever, but they’re more lonely than ever. Why? Because they’re relating to their friends through a screen. And not only that, there’s other content they can access through a screen; the whole world is on this phone.

I go back to affection and authority. As a parent, I’m going to realize that there’s a danger both in the amount of time and the content. Just the amount of time they spend on their phone changes their interactions with their friends. So, I’m going to try and guard them.

I’m going to realize phones and media are addictive. Adults get paid to make this phone addictive to my children and me, so I’m going to set guards and guidelines, and I’m probably going to be behind the culture.

Focus on the Family: Big Tech’s Battle for Your Child’s Faith and Attention with Chap Battis


Behind the Culture

I’m most definitely going to be behind the culture. And that’s OK. I get that’s why I get paid the big bucks as a parent. They will not like it, but ultimately, they will thank you.

For example, the young pastor at our church is doing a great job with his kids. And that’s exactly what happened. He has more restrictive access to media for his kids than the culture. Now, he’s starting to open up the funnel; he’s starting to give them some technology. And at the same time, as his son has grown, he thanked him, “Thank you, Dad, for keeping me off social media.”

As we communicate with our children, we tell them we’re on their side. We want what’s best, and ultimately we have to disciple them in their use of technology. They’re living in a technological world, so they will have to learn to manage their devices. We want them to learn it, but we will hand it out gradually as they can handle it. And again, it’s going to be behind what the world does.

One other point is likeminded families in our church community can be so helpful because then when our kids say, “you’re strange, you’re restrictive, so-and-so has a phone.” You can say, “well, our family may be, but so is that family. So is that family.” You can tell your children that these church families are coming to similar conclusions about technology.


Preparing Your Child For Temptation

If you look at Proverbs 5-8, Solomon is preparing his son for temptation. He’s saying temptation will come, and I want you to know about it.

Similarly, as parents, we can get ahead of the temptation and say, “I know that the media is giving messages saying the biblical view of sexuality is wrong and harmful, and Christians are not smart. But I’m going to show you some resources that show the biblical sexual ethic is the good way, and God means that for our good. Repentance is good.”

We want to get ahead of media and technology use. Then, as much as we can, debrief or walk through it. For example, ask, “What message is this movie sending or promoting?”


What is Media Promoting?

Our family used PluggedIn and loved it. It was helpful in debriefing media content with my children. It helped me in asking questions like:


    • What’s the message here?
    • Who is this moviemaker you’re trying to get me to love?
    • Who are they trying to get me to hate?
    • When does the real philosophical worldview of the movie-maker come through?


It is not just movies, of course; music’s the same way. I’m a very logical guy—point A to point B, point C—but what music and the arts do is they do an end run around the truth. That took me by surprise as a parent. Music comes in through the back of my brain. It comes into my imagination, and I can be changed by my imagination, by music, and by movies without even using logic.

As Christian parents, we want to be aware and talk with our children (a) about this whole process of what’s happening when we use technology and then (b) ask questions about some of the messages that they’re getting through media.

Through media, they are getting the negative message that’s coming against Christianity, but we have the opportunity to tell our children why Christianity is the good life. Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”