We live in a world of technology. Generation Z—ages 0-16—cannot understand a world without the Internet. They live their lives on the Internet. It has everything they need: directions, shopping, entertainment, and socialization. Anywhere you want to connect, the Internet is available.
When a parent says, “How do I protect my child from the Internet?” they are asking the wrong question. The better question to ask is, “How can we—parents, teachers, school administrators, pastors, and anyone who works with young people—positively influence the next generation?” While you may be saying to yourself, “Positively influence the next generation? I just want to know how to protect my kids from porn! Where’s the off switch or how do I pull the plug? Can’t we just lock this sucker down! What if I just restrict my kids from using computers?”
The unfortunate truth is that the Internet is not something to lock up, unplug, or shut down. The Internet is more than a browser on your desktop. It is not restricted to a set of applications. The Internet is not just a of a series of networks spanning the globe, or common data protocol. It’s not a social platform or mass of searchable data. The Internet can best be summed up as the modern fruition of a reality: Anything, Anytime, Anywhere.
It is a powerful reality and one that our modern society is pursuing at an astonishing pace. Again, the Internet is not inherently evil. Without “Anything, Anytime, Anywhere,” we would still be using paper maps and asking gas station attendants for directions, paying ridiculous long distance phone and cable TV bills, and using postcards and letters to communicate with family and friends. Thanks to “Anything, Anytime, Anywhere” our news, media and entertainment are delivered instantly. Financial transactions are simplified, cost less and are updated in realtime. All levels of education, from grade school to graduate school, are accessible to the world at little or no cost other than the connection. Even the process of purchasing goods and services has become more cost and time effective; and these are only a few of the most obvious ways the Internet has positively changed our world.
Unfortunately, the negative effects of the Internet are significantly impacting our culture today, teens and young adults alike. Recent research indicates that:
*Age range for teens is 13-17 years; age range for young adult is 18-24 years; collectively, 13-24 years of age.
The statistics are overwhelming and terrifying. You may even find yourself disputing or dismissing the numbers. Perhaps you would say, “Not my kids; Not in my home; Not in my school; Not in my church.” Let me assure you that the numbers are real.
There has never been a greater divide in generational differences than that of the current generation and their parents. As a parent, how do you keep your kids safe as they travel about the Internet?
In many ways, developing an understanding of how the Internet works is essentially like driver’s education. It is our job as parents, teachers, school administrators, pastors and leaders to train our youth while they are “behind the wheel.” It is useless to have a long list of rules and restrictions and say, “Okay, everything is safe and locked down; there’s no way for you to get in trouble now.” It would be like telling kids today, “Here is a really safe go-cart that you can only drive on an isolated track by yourself,” and then thinking, “Okay, check driver’s education off the list!” This solution would be great as long as those kids never grow up and need to drive a real car on the open road.
Join us at the 2017 Men’s Conference for Digital Natives, where you will learn how to safely navigate the Internet, use Internet filters, and model accountability. In the Digital Natives session, we are going to cover both safety measures, good rules and practices, as well as a driver’s education of sorts; how to drive defensively, guarding your heart. Discover how to proactively monitor your kid's Internet use with knowledge, compassion, and grace.
What is a digital native? Simply put: a person who does not know the world without the influence of the Internet. How do we parent this generation where anything and everything is accessible at their fingertips?
Bryan Roberts dives into this conversation head first. With his personal story and experiences, and his background in technology, Bryan looks at how to effectively parent in our digital age.
Bryan is the Operations Director for Pure Desire Ministries. He has been involved with Pure Desire from it's creation. He was the Executive Director of Pure Desire from 2009-2016. Bryan is the co-author of Digital Natives: Raising an Online Generation.