Friday, August 2, 2013

On "Controlling our Technological Selves"

(Faith and Safety) - The device we carry in our pocket these days is no longer just a phone. It’s a portable computer, camera, camcorder, music player, literature reader, clock, and flashlight. We can do virtually anything: read documents, manage our bank accounts, listen to music, or read Biblical texts in multiple languages.

We literally hold the world in the palm of our hands.

Yet this same technology can divide rather than connect us if used improperly. We’ve all seen people more preoccupied with their phones than the people standing right in from of them. We can all get caught up in the distractions of having a smartphone.

It is important to realize that technological changes occur extremely fast; that is simply the road our society is headed down. As parents, it is our job to navigate these changes for both our children and for ourselves. This must first be reflected in our own conduct. If we’re not making good choices, then how can we lead our children?

Dr. Michael Fraser, a New York City based therapist, has done extensive research on children, families, and the Internet. He challenges us to consider as part of our Parental Call of Duty:
  • Our responsibility as parents to keep up with how our kids are using technology, and to know what to look for when there may be a problem.
  • Our obligation to teach our kids acceptable ways to use technology.
  • Our time to take charge of the technology rather than let it take charge of us.
  • Our commitment to engaging our children in ways that don’t involve an electronic device.
  • Our duty to protect our greatest resource: our children. It’s our call, and in our power.
We wear a cross to remind us of Christ’s sacrifice. We attend liturgical services, say our prayers, and do our best to remain a prayerful heart throughout the day. Why should our interaction with technology be any less Christ-centered?

We should look to embrace Christ whether we’re on-line or off-line.

Parents, this is an enormous task, but we’re not alone. The message of the Gospel and the support of the Church is with us as we navigate the challenges and opportunities technology offers.

Perhaps St. Paul said it best when he encouraged St. Timothy to, “…set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12). Our children are looking to us for guidance and love. Let’s show them a positive, healthy, and Christ-centered way to use technology.

1 comment:

  1. If only such an address had been made available two decades ago when the Internet really hit the scene. Many a young men and women may have been spared.

    The problem with even this address, I think, is that it presumes the technology in our lives is inherently innocuous, when in fact, research shows that much of our current technology effectively damages our ability to stay focused and our long-term memories. It seems these capacities are essential to the average Christian's walk with God.

    For me and my house, we take a very cautious approach to technology, and my wife and I often discuss how much current technologies are really necessary or beneficial for the development of the human (i.e. our children). I myself was not introduced to the Internet and branch technologies until I was 15 years old, and even then without guidance I was totally sucked in for years to come.

    The nature of today's technology is strangely private while being entirely public. A developing child's sense of privacy is invaded when parents want to "follow" them on the various social media, and it seems only to set up an impossible dichotomy between parent and child. While being outwardly social, they seem only to aid in the rift between the young and the old on the one hand, while blurring the line between the two on the other.