[Guard] your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23
I love and I hate all of them. The TV, the computer, the smart phone, the iPad, the PS4…any electronic.
It’s amazing how you can have access to so much right at your finger tips –information, convenience, people, entertainment — yet the very root of its problem is access. Because having access to basically anything and everything you want to see or know any time you like makes guarding your heart that much more difficult. And what about our children who are more vunerable to curiosity and deception?
Access is a scary thing, and whether you are an adult or a child, everyone is feeling the sting of temptations that have detrimental effects on the issues of life.
What is the solution? Just get rid of it all. But, who’s willing to do that? And is that even feasible in today’s age? I suppose it could be and should definitely be an option on the table. Anyone’s soul is more important than any electronic. So let’s “pluck that eye out” if we must.
However, I believe there are effective ways we can still benefit from the use of electronics, yet also guard our hearts. Each person must honestly evaluate their own struggles with this and the maturity of their children, with the realization that the main ingredients to managing this stem around self-control and accountability. Here’s some suggestions to help your family do that:
- Set time limits – Setting time limits on the amount of idle time spent on electronics is useful. This can be certain limits placed on times of the day or any specific standards where use is prohibited such as the dinner table. Many devices these days will track your screen time and what apps you are using. We use our electronics for so many things, but if most of your screen time is unproductive, maybe you should re-evaluate your focuses.
- Keep everything in the open – I believe this is the number one key to accountability especially with children. As much as you can, keep computers, TVs, gaming consoles, and tablets in an open space where anyone at any time can see what you’re doing. We personally do not allow these in our children’s rooms. Smart phones are a little more tricky since they are handheld, but there are all kinds of ways to manage and monitor these such as setting restrictions, using an accountability program, and of course, manually checking those devices on a regular basis.
- Set restrictions – Many electronics have ways to set time and access restrictions. Use them but don’t fall into the trap of believing this is the solution to all your problems. Because I can tell you, there are ways to get around them and apps that can be downloaded that have ways to get on YouTube and other sites that may be restricted. And remember, restrictions aren’t just about what you set on a device, they’re also about family standards that are set such as determining who it’s okay to be privately communicating with or a child asking specific permission before they can use their phone in their bedroom.
- Use an accountability program – There are all kinds of programs that you can get that will monitor electronic activity. If you can find a good one that works, use it. Quite frankly, I have tried various programs only to get frustrated because it was blocking practically everything. Until I found Covenant Eyes. This is the ultimate accountability program that places a big emphasis on helping those with porn addiction. However, it’s great for anyone because you can set levels of access for each user and it generates a report each week that’s sent to an accountability partner. It does require a monthly fee to use the program, but at anytime, you can go in and monitor exactly what sites have been visited or blocked and when. It can be used on computers and smart devices. It’s a great way to help keep an open communication going about internet usage.
- Keep an open dialogue – As a family, we all must be open and honest about our struggles. It is crucial to keep a continual dialogue going about the dangers and proper and improper ways to use electronics. Everyone, even parents, need accountability and to work on self-control. Don’t think just because you’re an adult this isn’t for you. I bet if you asked your kids if they see any ways you could improve your electronic use, they’d have suggestions. And that’s the point. We all need to be asking each other questions on a continual basis and work together to find productive ways to fill our time. We must be willing to be transparent and listen no matter how much we want to justify ourselves.
Everything we put in will eventually come out. This is what makes guarding our hearts so important. Put good things in, and good things will come out. While using electronics can be a wonderful tool to help with that, having access to a world of anything and everything makes it more challenging because the opposite is also true — put bad things in, and bad things will come out. So, let’s be diligent to make this a family effort so we can work on our self-control and hold each other accountable. If we do, then we will be happy with the issues of life that spring forth.
In what ways is your family working to guard each other’s hearts with electronic use? Feel free to comment below.
Father, we know that we must be careful what we allow our eyes to see and our ears to hear because this is the gateway to our hearts. Please give us parents the wisdom to monitor and warn our children about the dangers of using electronics. Let us be an example of what’s appropriate especially in allowing ourselves to be accountable to each other. Help us to openly and honestly communicate with each other and always be willing to do whatever necessary to guard our hearts so that the issues of our lives will be good and pleasing in Your sight. Amen.
Truth in love,