|Several years ago I received an email from a blog reader in response to a post I’d written regarding technology and our children.
Turns out she is a writer too. Both of us had a passion for our faith, families, and intentional living. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with Eryn’s heart shared through her blog. And now her debut book releases to the world. You will want to grab a copy.
I’m honored to have Eryn sharing her words and heart with us here today.
Guest post by Eryn Lynum for Renee Robinson
“Mom, she has a phone.” My six-year-old’s words gingerly broke into our dinner conversation. Although phones and technology are not a big discussion point in our home yet, with four children under the age of seven, he seemed to know that the topic holds weight. He continued carefully, “When will I be old enough to have a phone? When I’m ten?”
He was gazing out our back window to the next yard over, where the neighbor girl sat with her face aglow in the light of her cellphone.
“Well, Bud, it won’t be for quite a while, and not until Dad and I can teach you how to use it right. Phones can be dangerous.”
After offering him a light, two-minute spiel on how we can easily use a phone too much, including the confession that Daddy and I often fall into that trap ourselves, we moved on, but his question lingered in my mind.
Lately I have been thinking on a broader spectrum when it comes to my family’s safety regarding technology. My thoughts have welled over from concerns over my kids eventually holding smartphones in their own hands, to how I can protect them right now, through being intentional with what I myself post online. These concerns stem from a question I am asked on occasion: “Do you feel safe with posting photos and stories of your kids online?”
As a blogger and author, I share my family’s everyday antics with my readers, and by default the broader internet world. But when I hit “Publish”, it is not by default at all. Never do I hit publish without careful hesitation. It began at a writers’ conference a few years ago, while I was sitting under the teaching of one of my favorite authors as she spoke on the topic of memoir writing. One of her points struck me deeply, and it was this:
We must honor those in our story.
This is not only true for writers, of course. We are all living out our own stories, and sharing much of them with the online world. The characters in our stories happen to be those very dear to us.
In my case, my children can, in twenty years from now, pick my book up off the shelf and read very real stories of themselves as children. And so I must ask myself now, do I honor them? Do I respect them? Do I give them a good name? Do I protect them?
If we want to be intentional with our use of technology and in our families, then we all must ask these same questions as we share our photos, thoughts, every day antics, and stories on social media. We are not only telling our story, we are telling our family’s story. Won’t it be wonderful one day when our grown children respect us because we chose first to respect and protect them?
Here are three areas, above and beyond internet filters and privacy settings, where I believe we need to protect our children when it comes to technology.
Protecting their safety by:
- Not posting photos of children in underwear or diapers (no matter how young)
- Not posting bathtub photos, even if everything is covered up
- Not posting photos that give away specific location details (we go so far as no house numbers, or places we visit or attend regularly)
- We can also protect and respect other families by asking friends’ permission before we post photos that include their children, say, at a play date or birthday party.
Respecting our family and honoring our children by:
- Not sharing stories that disrespect our child, or paint them in a distasteful light
- Not sharing stories of their misbehavior without any redeeming qualities (I.E. Just to talk about how bad they are being…)
- Not writing unkindly of someone in our family, near or far
- Watching sarcasm. There is always a bit of truth in what is said (or written) with a sarcastic tone.
Modeling that tech is a tool, not a master
- Modeling to them when to set the phone down. People in front of you are ALWAYS more important.
- Teaching them that in the often dark online world, it can be good to share the beautiful pieces of life—but only to the extent that we don’t begin missing those beautiful moments themselves because our face is buried in a device.
- Asking our child’s forgiveness now whenever we find ourselves too preoccupied with our technology
- Helping them understand that giving technology its proper place in life will always be a struggle, but one worth fighting for.
- Helping our children to fall in love with nature and the beautiful things of life that technology, in many ways, will never be able to replace.
Although it feels quite far away, before I know it, my son will hold his own smartphone for the first time. I pray that in that moment, my heart will not constrict with fear. Rather, I pray that I will stand confident in the lessons we prepared him with for that responsibility.
I pray that years from now looking back, I will know that we protected our family through small, intentional decisions. Tiny shifts in our own behavior, attitudes, and words hold magnificent power. This battle begins in our own hands, and what we choose to fill, or not fill them with. Let’s choose well today, for the sake of our child’s tomorrow.
Eryn Lynum is author of the book 936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting. She lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and four children, where they spend their time hiking, camping, and exploring the Rocky Mountains. She loves to travel and share at conferences, churches, and writers’ groups. But every opportunity she gets, she is out exploring God’s creation with her family, and sharing the journey at www.936Pennies.com
You can connect with Eryn here: