Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Some Suggestions for Controlling the Technology in Your Life

Technological gadgets continue to multiply and pose some challenges for Christians. Recently I wrote a series of articles discussing these challenges. The purpose of this article is to list them briefly and then to provide what are for me practical guidelines for keeping these gadgets under control. These are suggestions I hope you find helpful as you try to keep the gadgets from controlling your life.

The challenges and dangers can be put into these categories as far as I can tell: Distraction, Reduction of in-depth reading and thinking, Idolatry, Relationships, and Moral challenges.

Here is a brief summary of my suggestions for bringing our gadgets under control.

1. Have a few set times a day when you check email, Facebook or Twitter and don't look at them in between.

2. Perhaps set Sunday as a technology-free day.

3. When you are not doing essential work on a computer, leave the machine closed or logged off. That way you won't be tempted to look for messages while you are involved in other responsibilities. Don't look at your cell phone unless it rings for receiving a call. Ignore texts and email alerts until the appointed time.

4. Train your mind in deeper thinking by regularly a) reading your Bible, b) memorizing and meditating on Scripture, c) praying, d) reading a good book.

5. As parents, make sure your children and teens have technology-free times. All cell phones should be off and charging by a specific time each evening. Teens need 9.5 hours of sleep per night for proper brain development.

6. Be alert to mindless browsing. If you're just bouncing around the web or Facebook posts, it's time to put it away and find something profitable to do.

7. Be careful about idolatry. What has more pull – your Bible or Facebook?

8. Beware of covetousness (Luke 12:15). Do the events in other peoples' lives on Facebook seem more exciting or meaningful than yours? Does the stuff other people seem to have that they talk about seem better than your stuff? Do others seem to go to more interesting places? Maybe it's time for a Facebook break.

9. Beware of boasting. Do you find satisfaction in making sure others know all about your exciting life? Do you want them to be just a little bit impressed? … or jealous?

10. Don't check your phone or text when you are a) conversing with someone in person, b) eating together with others, c) in church, d) in class, e) together in a group such as the family together in the living room.

11. Parents teach your children good phone etiquette and be a good example yourself.

12. Stay away from sexually suggestive sites. If you're having trouble, get with someone trustworthy and keep each other accountable.

13. Parents, make sure you know what your children are doing online. Computers should be out in the open. This may sound old fashioned and out of date, but I don't think any teen should have unfettered internet access on his phone.

14. Parents -- children and teens should not have televisions in their bedrooms.

The goal as Christians is to use our technology for the glory of God. There are many wonderful and helpful uses to our gadgets, but there are also some dangers that even secular sociologists and psychologists are starting to recognize. We need to be aware and be alert and not allow ourselves or our children to fall into the traps. We need to learn and then teach our children how to read well, think deeply, build solid relationships, live for the glory of God and then use our technology to help us accomplish these goals.

I've combined all of the blog postings on this topic into one PDF file. If you're interested, you can download it here.

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