Technology, Youth and the Role of the Church
by David Jones
Restoration Path Ex. Director
I recently had a conversation with a concerned mother of a 14-year-old son who was preparing to go on a church sponsored and supervised youth trip to Florida. She was concerned for her son’s safety regarding exposure to sexual material via other peer’s technology devices. Her son’s devices were being protected and monitor by Covenant Eyes accountability software but her fears centered on other peers who did not have such controls.
Her experience with the effects of early exposure to pornography came through her husband’s journey of recovery from sexual addiction. She knew her husband’s story and how early exposure to porn had generated an intense craving and altered the way his brain processed information and stress. She was prepared to do what ever it took to protect her son’s mind, body and soul.
Her concerns were also elevated knowing of a youth who was caught viewing porn on his smart phone during church while sitting next to his parents.
Sadly, this was a familiar story I have heard from different parents and various churches. Technology is advancing so fast that what we utilized to battle sexual temptation 2 years ago has now become obsolete. Children don’t sneak off into their rooms to view porn on bulky desktop computers. They don’t worry about someone checking the history of these stationary computers. They can access graphic images where ever they go and we as adults are so used to seeing them with their faces glued to these screens we don’t even notice.
Try this experiment. Open a picture on your cell phone and have someone sit beside you and tell you what image you are viewing. Unless they are directly in front of the screen, they can’t see it. So it would be very easy for a child to view porn while sitting right beside you at home, in the car or at church. Technology is not going anywhere and we can’t keep our children from all temptations but we can do a better job.
Let me give you few suggestions. We have reached an age where children believe they are entitled and should be equipped with smart phones and tablets. We are presented as being neglectful and almost abusive parents if we do not provide them with this technology. Churches in turn are afraid to set policies that offend parents and youth regarding their use of technology while on church property or during church sponsored outings.
My first suggestion is for us to stop being afraid of our kids.
My second suggestion is to stop being afraid of parents’ objections, criticisms or them actually leaving our church. Gone are the days where we didn’t need to have policies and procedures in the church.
My third suggestion is for each church to research and establish a very clear policy regarding technology usage for youth activities and events.
Once this is completed, ask each parent and youth to sign his or her acceptance and acknowledgment of this policy.
Fourthly, the church should establish an over all policy requiring all technology used on the church property to be “safe”. By safe, I mean each device would be monitored by an accountability system such as Covenant Eyes.
Fifthly, churches should provide updated training for parents regarding technology. A 7 year old should not know more about technology than his parents.
I am often heard making the statement “you can never be on an unsafe computer the rest of your life” to men that are recovering from sexual sin. It is just too risky. The same statement is true for our vulnerable youth. Let’s take the measures needed to protect them from the dreadful effects of early exposure to sexually explicit material.
As a ministry we encourage individuals and families to utilize Covenant Eyes accountability software for all your electronic devices. The primary reason is that in the industry of filtering and accountability software they have what we believe to be the best technology. The second reason is the fact that they have a family plan. This will cover every device for each person in your immediate family.
If you go to our website at www.restorationpath.org you’ll find a banner that links to Covenant Eyes. This will give you access to a free month trial to their service.
If you continue to use their service a small donation will be given to our ministry.