Parents, This is to help you understand where my use of technology came from and why I believe it is extremely important for you to understand today's technology. Here is a perception...real or not, it is a perceived reality..."If you really want to know what your kid is doing with the technology they use...you will figure out how to use it."
The Technology World I Grew Up In: (keep in mind that I graduated high school in 2000)
I learned to type on a keyboard in high school
I didn't have cable TV until I was in jr. high
My family didn't have internet (not even a 28.8k modem) until I was in High School
I didn't have a cell phone until I was a senior in high school (I used a pager from 10-11th grade)
I grew up with an Apple IIGS computer in my dad's office (it was black wtih green writing)
My brother owned an Atari and I had a Super Nintendo, and a Gameboy
I actually did own a couple of records. But tapes were huge for me and CD's were revolutionary!
I went to college without a cell-phone or a car
I starting using AOL's Instant Messenger in high school to communicate with friends
I didn't txt message until the year 2006
I didn't have email until high school
I didn't use MySpace or Facebook until 2005
I started podcasting in 2007
I started to blog in 2005
I started to twitter in 2008
The Technology World Your Students Are Growing Up In: (keep in mind that your student will graduate in 20??)
Many kids learn to type in elementary school or younger now
Many kids are given their own TV's with cable connection by the time they are 8
Many kids are given their own computers and internet access (often from the privacy of their own room - BIG MISTAKE) by age 12
Many kids are given their own (internet-enabled) cell phones by age 12
Many kids are given a laptop for school purposes by age 12
Many kids have a PSP, PS2/PS3, xBox360, XBOX, and/or Wii
Many kids have their own 30-80 gig iPods, iPod Nanos, iPod Touches, iPod Shuffles and/or iPhones
Many kids have cars waiting for them when they turn 16
Many kids are now using MySpace, IM, AIM, ICQ, YahooMessenger, Window's Messenger, txting, Facebook, and more to communicate with friends
Many kids know how to video chat these days
Many kids txt message ALL DAY
Many kids have an email account for one purpose - to sign up for free services like MySpace - most of them never check their email
Many kids don't know what a blog is yet
Many kids don't know what twitter is yet
I tell you this so that you can see that I didn't grow up in the current culture. Yes, there were similarities and I was given an advantage by learning some things while I was in high school that many adults are just now learning. However, I had to teach myself how to get around on the internet, how to do things on the computer and how to use this digital medium of communication. I am self-taught. How did I self-teach? I wanted to know how to do something.
Everything has to start with motivation. If you don't have motivation...it won't get done. Sometimes our motivation is from a negative source, sometimes it's fear, sometimes it's love, sometimes it's _____ (fill it in).
The question I have for you is, "Are you motivated to be educated about technology?" And here is why that is an important question. Many young people today are disconnected from previous generations because they feel those people are irrelevant. They feel those people don't know anything that is going on in the world because they only read one local paper for the information.
For over a year now we have offered podcasting for parents. Basically that means that we have recorded every student service and made it available for you to listen to through a website (turnpike or catalyst) or iTunes (search 'Turnpike Student Ministries' or 'Catalyst Student Ministry' in the iTunes store). Some of you have taken advantage of this resource and some of you haven't. We sent letters home explaining in detail a step-by-step process on how to find the podcast. We advertised it on the nhclife website. We put it in the bulletin several times. The resource isn't just so that you can make sure we aren't teaching un-biblical things, but also so that you can be in conversation with your student throughout the week about what we talked about.
I've hears students say, "I forget what we talked about from week-to-week." Well, that's a problem with almost everyone. We all forget sometimes, but that's why this resource is available to you. So that you can remind them and keep them in the conversation.
My point is...technology is here...it's here to stay. It's not a fading movement of geeks that know how to work a computer or work an iPod...it's almost every American. It's not a generational thing. You need to know how to use technology. Why? Because it helps younger people to respect you as a person that not ignorant. Because you need to know what your students are doing with all these techno-toys. Because you can use these tools for the kingdom of God. And because the more technology grows and the less you know about it...the more out of touch you will be with culture.
Bottom Line: MySpace is one of the most difficult things out there to figure out...if you can figure that out...you'll be able to figure out blogs, Facebook, iTunes, or anything else.
The Challenge: Learn how to use every kind of technology your kids use. It will go along way in your communication with them, it will strengthen your relationship and it will help safe-guard your family against the enemy.
Here are some great resources for you to check out:
xxxChurch.com - A Christian Resource about the dangers of pornography and how to get help with it.
Just For Parents - A Collection of Free Resources from Youth Specialities
PluggedIn - A Focus on the Family Resource with Movie, Video Game, TV, and Music Reviews from a Christian perspective
LifeWay Parenting Site - A Life Way Resource for Parenting