- How can we share the Gospel in a digital world?
- How can we make YouTube more safe?
- How do kids get around parental controls?
- Comment on AI
- Is limiting tech time building it up in my child’s mind?
Nathan [00:00:00] Heavenly Father, thank you for a chance to talk about technology today. Thank you for a chance to reflect on your great goodness and on what we can do with the hope we have in the Gospel. Would you help us wisely apply it? Open our ears to hear and our hearts to understand. In Your name, amen.
Nathan [00:00:14] Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Gospel Tech podcast. My name is Nathan Sutherland, and this podcast is dedicated to helping families love God and use tech. Today we are discussing five questions that came up at a recent conference I was doing. I was out in Pennsylvania and I got a lot of great questions, both through conversation and informally at the end of the event. And I thought I’d take a couple of them and address them here because I think they’d be useful for everyone to hear. They absolutely could have deep dives on each and every one of these. In fact, I started two of them and then realized this is going to be a full month of content at like 40 minutes a pop. And that’s just a lot that maybe we don’t need. So we’re going to go briefly into we’re going to talk about how do we share the gospel in digital spaces? How do we make YouTube safe? How do we handle parental controls? Or specifically, the question was how do kids get around parental controls, which is a huge question, but I’m going to answer it. So at least I guess will be a little less nebulous. But when we get to that section, I don’t know if you want your kid in the car, it might give them ideas. Artificial intelligence and then are rebuilding kind of tech stress with our boundaries that we should just give access to so we could make it better. That idea of like saying no is just going to make them want it more, that kind of idea. So that’s where we’re headed. It’s going to be a fun conversation. And with no further ado, let’s get the conversation started.
Nathan [00:01:35] Thank you to everyone who’s helped make this podcast possible. Thank you for listening. Thank you for sharing, for telling your friends about it. Thank you for donating some of your going Gospeltech.net. You’re going to donate. We are a 501c3 nonprofit, and it is such a blessing. In fact, to be very clear, because some people have been asking it’s Flint and Iron is the big nonprofit that I started in 2016. Now we have this additional mission. So they’re both working. They are both about sparking purpose in youth. And I personally believe an amazing way to do that in technology is to connect it to the hope of the gospel. So that’s how the two are connected. I know some people are looking for each, and I’m happy to send that to you because that is a big part of what we do. We are donor supported and then that allows us to go out and do things like talks at a rate that churches can afford and that schools can provide to their students. And that’s an incredible opportunity. So thank you for being on that journey with us.
Nathan [00:02:29] Today’s conversation, five questions I received while speaking this last weekend and I guess last week and then into this weekend. And I just want to share and we’re going to start off with number one, how do we share the gospel online? And I love where this heart of this question is coming from because people feel a passion to share the gospel and the Internet is an amazing way to do that. I think first and foremost, I would just guess from my experience, you have to pray because I have a heart for so many ideas and there is this passion inside me that wants to see people, hear the gospel and know the hope of Christ. And certainly as a believer, we do that all the time. Some of us do that as laypeople, some of us do that professionally. But then there’s a space of where is that overreaching? And now my heart is wanting to run after passion project that the Lord isn’t guiding me into. So an example that would be what I’m doing right now. When I started the nonprofit started speaking, I was a teacher, I worked with Young Life, and then I was doing these talks and at the point about a year and a half, two years in, I realized I couldn’t do all three. I not only could I not do them all well, I physically could not do them. My body was breaking down. I was getting sick a lot. Anna and I were having fights about nothing. I mean, it was absolutely tearing us apart. And oh, by the way, Hadley was about to be born. So by year three, a wise mentor stepped in and helped me pray through the process of, Hey, what does this look like to do just what the Lord has asked you to do, and then trust God to still be faithful in the rest of it? It came down to there are amazing teachers and I trust and love them to do what God is asking them to do. There are incredible people working in Young Life and I trust and love them and believe they’re going to do what got asked. There’s no one I know of who is doing gospel tech, so I couldn’t not do it. I did feel compelled to reach this space with hope, specifically of the Gospel city that God save sinners. What does that look like then? To be a redeemed sinner, what we call a saint in the Twitter world and the YouTube world and the podcast world? I didn’t know and I wanted to find out. And so that was the area Anna and I prayerfully stepped into, which means I’ve done a lot of not being a part of YouTube or excuse me, Young Life and teaching. I just have been able to do it. Every time I go speak at a school, I’m like, if I had a second Nathan, I would send him to schools to teach so I could still do this job, maybe, and there might be a day I step into that. But I have to faithfully understand that the Lord is good. He’s called me into this space for this time. So start with prayer wherever the Lord is going to. You want to make sure you’re faithfully walking. You’re not taking on more projects. By the way, I have ideas for youth discipleship, and I have ideas for being a youth pastor, and I have ideas for writing content and books directly for youth to consume and to raise them up with amazing questions. Because I love how their hearts and minds work, but I don’t have the bandwidth to do any of that right now. Maybe there will come a day where I do it. Maybe someone else will do it. And I’m just not supposed to tackle that? That’s all right. The idea is we pray and we look at the question I was given was what bothers you most? But that can be misconstrued. So the idea is, what do you look at and go, man, someone should really do something about whatever it might be, the worship at your church, it might be the youth program at your church, it might be something in your community. It may be a bigger global picture. Someone needs to do something about this issue. That I would argue, is something the Lord has given you. And then we pray. We read Scripture and we worship the Lord and we rest and wait because we want to make sure we don’t do it in our strength. There are many, many, many good ideas that should absolutely be addressed. But we can address them wrong. We can address them out of the wrong kind of anger, that vengeful, selfish anger rather than righteous anger, like when we see something wrong happen. Whether that was wrong, that’s awesome. What comes next is, all right. Do I notify someone else who’s better equipped and in a better place with more bandwidth to fix that? Or do I step in and intercede? I’m not talking, by the way, like someone walking across the road and putting themselves in harm. We’re talking big picture. What should you do is what we often hear. How do I do this? You pray. You listen and you look for that spot in your life where God’s given you what I love the term. I did not make this, but I love it. That idea of a righteous Oh, now I can’t even remember the term as a holy discontent. There it is. The phrase holy discontent, that just unsettled feeling. But it’s not coming from a place of a lack of faith is coming. It’s extending from the faith you have that God can fix this and God’s calling people to step into this hurt and you want to be there. So is that how the Lord’s asking to do that or not?
Nathan [00:07:06] Some people doing this in amazing ways in digital spaces. I’ll just point out a few in social media that Dad Tired, Jerrad Lopes is an amazing follow. He has a great heart for specifically husbands and dads. The other day I saw it. I was looking for something else. I was studying some stuff on A.I. and I was like, “Where is that guy?” And it just popped up in my feed. Thanks algorithms. But it was simple. It said, “Today your goal is love God with all you are. Pursue your wife, play with your kids.” That was it. And for me, well, that can maybe sound trite or cheesy. I know where Jerrad Lopes hearts come from in the conversations I’ve had with him. He is earnest and passionate about seeing husbands and dads be humble, gracious leaders of their families. I love it. And that was a great reminder for me because I can get really focused on the wrong thing. So that was awesome. And I’ve found continually that to be a great follower, you could do that. You could be that person providing intentional gospel reminders. What I come away with isn’t Jerrad Lopes is a great dad, and I should be more like him now. I come away going, You know what? That’s true. Like, God’s called me in space, but not at the expense of my soul, not at the expense of the individuals he’s blessed me with to love and to nurture and to race. So wonderful. Be that person on social media and the podcast world.
Nathan [00:08:19] A fierce marriage is one that I get incredibly encouraged by. Ryan and Selena Frederick have a running podcast is also for families. They’ve got books, they’ve got lots of stuff. But in this space of podcasting, they’re incredibly gracious and they have a nice bit of humor and they have a very real, authentic marriage that conveys through audio formats and they do a great job with that. So I get encouraged that they talk about everything. They talk about dating and sex, they talk about fighting well, and what it looks like to be a Christian husband/wife combo and living out the Bible and raising kids. They deal with really hard topics that they haven’t necessarily experienced, like broken marriages, but do it with grace and humility and I really like that you could be someone like that in a space like podcasting. You could also just create content that points to Jesus. I love the Bible Project for this. Tim Mackey came out of Portland, Oregon, made a very unique format, kind of these drawn stories that they grow as starts with kind of a blank sheet of paper, if you will, and then he starts at a single figure and then it blows up into this big image as he walks through either a book or the Bible or specific account or an overview of the book of the Bible that teaches some more theology and history of the book. They’re phenomenally done. They’re anywhere from 3 to 8 minutes apiece, and they’re engaging and they can be enjoyed from a young like middle school age all the way up through adulthood. What I would encourage you to look up look up the Bible Project, Psalms, it’s awesome. I think it’s 8 minutes and it walks you through why are there 150 Psalms? How are they split up? There’s five different chunks. Why was it created? I didn’t know this, but it was intentionally creating the song version of the entire Old Testament or the pentateuch. But the first five books of the Bible to do what God had commanded them to do. Hey, remember me in worship. Remember the promises of the Lord. Remember My great works for you and your people to remind them to your children’s children’s children the great. We’re going to do this in the form of song and worship, in the form of poetry, and it’s awesome. And that helps you remember it. I’ve seen it once and I can remember that much of it. So I think that’s really well done. There are some of you who are incredibly artistic and incredibly passionate for types of communication and mediums that are going to work really well over the Internet. So get creative. But remember that the point isn’t get a big following. The point isn’t have lots of people think you’re awesome. The point isn’t to make a living. If we’re stepping into a space where we’re sharing the gospel, the point is to make God clear and evident to the people you’re speaking to or communicating with. If you happen to be financially successful in that, cool, that’s wonderful. You may not be. And the financial success isn’t indicative of your success. In fact, I believe there are some people who are incredibly financially successful, and that’s getting in the way of the value of their ministry. Whereas there are some people that are making a dime and they are powerfully sharing the truth and hope with the gospel. So please keep in mind, while all of these people are doing very well, that isn’t the goal.
Nathan [00:11:16] The last one I want to share for people doing great in a digital space actually isn’t technically in a digital space. Sally Lloyd-Jones wrote The Jesus Storybook Bible did an amazing job with it. It’s a beautiful summary, if you will, of the heart of the Gospel. This idea that God’s story with humanity is one of love. And it began with love. It ends with love. Started with a wedding in the end with a wedding in Revelation. And that the arc in between is actually the Jesus story. And it’s not about us. It’s about God’s stepping in to our space. She does a very nice job of capturing the heart of the gospel in each account. At no point in the Bible. In fact, it starts very early by saying like the Bible isn’t a list of stories of people you should be like, it’s instead about one person you should be like, and how each of these people fall short of that standard. So at the end of David’s story, it’ll talk about how there will be a great king returning. Pick a Story, any story in there, it’s going to say, and one day there will be someone who will do this right. And so the Jesus Story book Bible and specifically the audiobook of it, it’s how I got to the digital space. The audiobook is beautiful. It has a wonderful British reader, and my sons were quoting scripture in, you know, British accents for a little while there when they’re very young and they really enjoyed it. It’s an audio book. You can listen to it time and again, and it does teach you not just to know the accounts of the Bible, but reminding you how they tie in with the gospel specifically. It’s beautifully done. And when you read interviews with her on on, why did she pick this format? She basically said I was passionate about young people learning the gospel, specifically learning about the Bible. And I wanted to do it from the mindset of like a mother, what would I say to my child when they’re going to sleep? What do I want on the end their day on? And it’s just account an account, an account again and again of that specific heart. And it’s very well done. So how do you share the gospel? You pray it out, you follow the passion God gave you and you make Jesus the center of that, whatever it is you might be speaking to people on the street. Okay. If you do that, it better not be about being the noisiest, most combative person out there. It better be about helping people hear the truth and grace of Jesus, right? That same grace that is delaying His final arrival so that all who will believe will come in, right? That’s that’s the season we’re in of the already, but not yet. And we need to reflect that in our relationships with our neighbors, our relationships with our family and the relationships with people through the interwebs that we meet. So absolutely get out there, share the gospel, and just make sure that you’re not doing it on your strength.
Nathan [00:13:46] So then the second is, all right, how do we make YouTube more safe? The second question I got and it’s stumped me for a hot minute, I was like, “All right, let me wrap my brain around it. What do you mean?” Well, we have an eight and a six year old. How do we make YouTube safe? And I mean, to start, YouTube’s not safe. It’s just not. It’s the Internet and it’s an algorithm feeding you content. Its goal is to keep you longer than you wanted so it’s not safe. But I would say this if you want to use YouTube, well, the first thing you have to do and a goal again, your goal is safe YouTube. You have to pay for the subscription, get in there. And there’s two reasons. I’ll start with the first one. It blocks ads I’ve shared here before. I won’t go through it again. But some of the ads are incredibly traumatic. They’re incredibly inappropriate for adults and kids alike. So block ads first and foremost block ads. Second is set it up in kids mode. You have a young child who you’re giving a tablet or a smart TV or whatever, and it has YouTube. It needs to be in kids mode that restricts a lot of content and defaults a bunch of like the content they’re trying to guide you to too, at least child ish content. It’s not all appropriate, It’s not all helpful. It’s not all biblically accurate, but it’s a start. Then go into your profile, that little icon on the top right. Go down to…Let’s see, I wrote this down to make sure. Go down to select restricted mode and then activate restricted modes, little toggle and that’ll kick out the comments. And again, block yet another layer of content that might somehow get brought in. Both of those are going to be valuable. That’s just in the default settings under your profile. Watching it with your child is very valuable. I would strongly encourage you to at least have vetted what they’re going to watch and just not let them go through the feed. And then finally, if you get that premium subscription, it’s $13 a month for an individual plan, $23 for a family plan that allows multiple individuals from multiple locations to do this. Or if you have a university student, they can get it for, I think, seven bucks a month. But we’re talking younger kids. So in that you can download videos. I like this option because now you’ve prevented you’ve got your playlist of whatever it is. You have a massive sum of videos that you appreciate. You say, “Yes, this is the playlist we can use.” They’re downloaded to our computer. You could turn off your Wi-Fi at that point and you will have access to these videos through the premium option. So I like that If you’re going to use YouTube regularly, it’s going to be worth getting a subscription for. At least start. If you can’t afford premium I believe it’s $5 donation wants to get ad blocker, which is a third party thing. It’ll only work in whatever one browser you’re using. So I put mine on Chrome and that at least allows you to use restricted mode, kids mode and ad blocker. So you’re not seeing the stuff that is inadvertent that you didn’t want to see. So I would start though, assuming cost isn’t a thing, I would start with the premium option. So that’s how you can make YouTube safer. Just keep in mind it is still on the Internet. Oh, and the final one, sorry, there is six is guided access. If they’re on an Apple device, Android does have one I don’t remember what it’s called off the top of my head but guided access and it’s similar partners lock them into just that resource. So they will just have Netflix available to them. So as long as it’s restricted in a kids mode with no ads, they can’t go to third party websites, they can’t exit and get into other games and stuff. It’s just YouTube for that. So that would be another option for you.
Nathan [00:17:24] All right. Then we were asked, how do kids get around parental controls? My more sarcastic answer is, how don’t they? They are so creative. So if you have kids in the car or listen to this right now, I’m going to run through some ways they do it and I’m trying not to give them any ideas. So use your parental discretion on this. First and the easiest way is just to use someone else’s device. They can use a friend’s. They can use what would be called a burner phone, like an old phone that you had laying around the house or an old Kindle that doesn’t have any accountability on it and just get through the Wi-Fi. If your Wi-Fi is not protected, they now have access. They can go to a public space like school or the public library where there are no filters and they can access whatever they like there. That’s the first way they do it. The second is hidden apps. So there are vault apps, certainly. So these are apps that look like something else. The calculator one has gotten a lot of hype over the last couple of years, but they can hide pictures in there. They can have outside Internet access it circumnavigate your safety settings. So hidden apps, if you’re younger child has a smart device that can download apps. You simply want to make sure you have parental controls on what devices are seen and what apps they can access and what apps they can download. That you want some kind of a parental check that goes into what is getting installed.
Nathan [00:18:40] A hard factory reset as a third option. So they simply reset the device and it wipes everything off it and just starts it with a blank slate. You do want to have something on there that tells you that’s happened. Covenant Eyes for pornography accountability does tell you if the program has been deleted. So that’s a nice way. But being aware of what’s going on with the device is important. Having conversations about that, making sure that device is public so you can see if it has been wiped for all of its accountability. And if your feed goes completely blank, right? If you were getting daily updates and you’re not getting any updates, you may just want to check in on that. Another one is going to public WiFi. So if you have a network protection, so something like a Gryphon router or the Bark Home that’s going through your WI-FI and they go to a coffee shop or they use a friend’s hotspot, they can still access the internet starting computers and admin mode. It’s not super hard to do. They can do it directly from a command. Prompt and admin does not have any of the walls that are up and by default admin mode does not require a password. So you can set that up using a VPN, a virtual private network. So Nord VPN. Surfshark. Private internet access would be three examples of this. A VPN circumnavigate your network by creating its own Internet connection and often often scrambling the IP. So you can’t even tell where it came from. You will have no idea what what they’re doing or where they went while using a VPN. Tthat is true with things like Covenant Eyes. If there’s a VPN on that computer on that device, Covenant Eyes can’t see that. So just keep that in mind.
Nathan [00:20:20] Using proxy sites is another way so they can search for a third party site that effectively scrambles their IP and sends them through an outside website that gets around your firewall and boundaries, which is very difficult to track. Again, that would be by device that you would be able to see that. So there are some things that can pick up on that I believe Covenant Eyes would be able to see third party because it comes across the screen, but not third party on an iPhone. They would only be an Android device or a PC because it’s actually watching the screen itself. Also, something like Canopy would be useful, but only if Canopy can see what it’s looking at. So Canopy would have to be on that specific device and again, an android or an Apple or PC desktop. Those words are hard for me, but getting that because Canopy can real time scan for pornography as well. So it doesn’t care what the IP is, it cares what the site is that it’s bringing up and it can either real time block that or just simply not bring up the website because of the content. So an option if you’re really concerned, by the time we’re worried about trying to outsmart our children, there’s a concerning lack of trust there. And if your child doesn’t have your trust, I would wonder why we’re sending them into these digital spaces unsupervised, at least not on a shared device or on your personal device. So to reiterate how we keep these spaces safe, we set up a network hedge, we set up a personal device hedge, and we set up a family tech framework so that we can make sure we’re operating from a space of trust and then setting up positive, helpful, minimizing damage sort of safety guards. But by the time your child is actively circumnavigating these, there’s other conversations that need to happen. So those are some of the ways your child gets around your family’s protections.
Nathan [00:22:13] The fourth question I was asked was to comment on A.I.. Which again, I’ve been doing some research to try to do an episode on this. It’s a huge conversation and I want to be very clear. I am not an A.I. professional. In fact, in doing my research, I came across Dr. David Nguyen. He’s out of the University of Minnesota. A.I. is his thing. And he said and answers the question, “Should we be afraid of what’s going on with A.I.?” His answer was, “I don’t know.” This is in the last month. So where and when are we? We’re in May 2023. In the last month, he was asked this question and he said, “I don’t know.” That’s a dude who has a doctorate in this and does it full time. So please don’t hear me say that I understand A.I. perfectly and I know what’s going on. I do have a general grasp as someone just in this area asking lots of questions and listening to smart people talk about it. And here’s what I’d say. There’s an argument that could be made. What Dr. Nguyen is trying to say is you could argue that it’s fine, everything’s going as planned, and it’s just the kinks and hiccups of normal technological development because this is really, really new. And you can make an argument that this is horrifying and we’ve gone too far already and there’s no putting that genie back in the bottle. Pandora’s box is open and it’s out of our control at this point. You could argue both. I’m not going to argue either. What I will say is prior to the last month, I was very A.I. positive. I believe A.I. is the solution to what’s going on with algorithms where algorithms are kind of broken and their ability to do what they’re supposed to do, which is find you a wide array of information and feed it to you in a way that allows you to sift through it for kind of primary secondary documents. You’re getting information that’s on the Internet, but this helps you organize it. And then algorithms broke and they became just a way to guide you to information that’s going to well, be best for the company. And I think A.I. still has the opportunity to do that well. So whether it’s research or just calling the Internet for information on a topic you’re interested in, A.I. has a wonderful opportunity to pull you information across a wide range of subjects that has high value to you. I like that. I also like A.I. gives us the opportunity to do things like Canopy that idea that it can scan in real time. It doesn’t have to have a DNS listing of bad websites, it doesn’t have to have a lot of people run into a meat grinder of poor choices. And then finally we get some protection built in coded by really smart people. I can do it in real time and specific with pornography, the model’s been trained for what it’s looking for. It can spot pornography, and it can either block it in real time as you scroll, or if you go to a website that’s pornographic, you can just go, No, that was content that doesn’t line up with what I was programed to allow so disallowed. Super cool. It also allows things like the program that I use for cycling training. Trainer Road. It’s an A.I. driven trainer so I can go to a workout. It tells me how I did it set my next workout for me. It’s not perfect. People are still an amazing option, but that provides cycling training at 20 bucks a month that that would normally be $50 a workout or more. I mean, hundreds of dollars a month instead of 20 bucks a month. That’s cool. That’s an amazing boon. And there’s lots of ways that that’s coming out, not just cycling. There’s all sorts of athletics. We see that happening. And in baseball, there’s a group up here in the Northwest that’s taking pictures and they’re adding 3 to 5 miles an hour to professional grade pitchers and they’re getting hurt less and they’re pitching more and their careers are extended because A.I. lets us do some nuance that we didn’t used to have. I do understand that that’s not all buttercups. There certainly are problems with A.I. Some examples. The A.I. dilemma was put on by the Center for Humane Tech. That’s Tristan Harris, the guy that did the social dilemma. Well, now it’s the A.I. dilemma. You see where they go in there. In that he said in an interview or excuse me, in talking with people who work in the field and then reading some of the research, said there was a study done that said 50% of people in the field of A.I. say there’s a 10% chance A.I. could destroy humanity. And he goes, That may not be concerning because, well, 10% sure. I mean, but he’s like, imagine if that was the question put to airplane engineers. If you said, yeah, 50% of our engineers say there’s a one in ten chance you’re going to die when you get on this plane. Like we would have some concerns. There would be some federal regulations put in place fast, right? There were Boeing jets grounded for years because we were concerned not about a 10% chance, about a fraction of a 1% chance that some lithium battery somewhere could have an issue, that some landing program somewhere could have an issue. So for half of the people who are leading the field to say one in ten, we think we might have just destroyed humanity. That’s concerning. Maybe they’re wrong. Lord willing, they’re wrong. Yet they’re the ones with the most knowhow in this field, and they really don’t know. They’re like Professor Nguyen. They’re not sure which way to take the argument because they could argue both sides. So that’s concerning.
Nathan [00:27:28] The second thing that was brought up in this conversation with the Center for Humane Tech is and it’s on YouTube, I can include the link in the notes here but summary being you can no longer trust what you see online. There’s no A.I that’s too good already, and that’s going to only get better at deepfakes in people’s faces and voices. I have hundreds of hours of me speaking. All they need is like 10 seconds of me speaking to be able to impersonate my voice flawlessly. They can make me say anything I want and they can deepfake me. So they could even make my face say it. They could pick this background. It would look very legitimate. I would be convinced. I’d be like, I don’t. I don’t know. Did I say that? That’s horrible. Why would I ever say that? You can’t trust what you see on the Internet anymore, and that starts effective immediately. So that’s scary because a lot of us get a lot of helpful and good information from the Internet, but we simply can’t trust it. Concerning is that A.I. is learning again brought up in the same conversation that the A.I. this is so GPT five is the one that’s not released yet to the public. That’s the A.I. that’s not released to the public. Through the ChatGPT, it was kind of the four model five is already training itself, meaning it needs a huge sum of information to be able to learn new things. It ran out of information on the internet, so called videos and podcasts and it ran out of information. So now it generates its own information, meaning writes its own articles, it makes its own podcasts, and then makes them into text and then trains itself out of it. And it limits the valuable excuse me, it edits the valuable content. So it says, Well, this 30% of that information wasn’t useful for me, but this was good. And then based on that, feedback creates more content. The fact that it can train itself is an interesting spot for a super exciting in the field. Also concerning that gets awfully close to what we would call general intelligence and artificial general intelligence, the ability to know what it needs to know and then adapt and create new content to help it get there is interesting. And the concerning part about that is, for example, with the models that we already have, A.I was able to be trained in English to do a certain task, and then partway through it started being able to give answers in Persian. It was not trained to respond. In Persian, it just taught itself Persian and then chose to begin responding in Persian, even though it wasn’t prompted to do so. We don’t know why. Also, with GPT 4, the predecessor that has been released apparently to train itself chemistry and has the ability to produce research grade chemistry responses, which is information that’s supposed to be kept in labs and with professionals who have been trained for years and have a conscience. GPT does not. So we don’t know what they can do. We don’t even know how to know what they can do because they train themselves some of this information. And they’re very good at it. That’s concerning. There are research grade chemist answers that will help the planet. And there’s some amazing things with breaking down microplastics in the ocean and helping humanity find more nuanced ways to live right, how we interact with our environment and how we can fit more people in areas more safely and honestly with a higher quality of living. We will get there in a lot of areas. And there’s some information about viruses and information about weapons that is now available because that research grade chemistry is out there that we didn’t want just in the hands of the public and anyone who could type. So that is concerning, I would say. I would say if you are freaked out by A.I. and if that’s making you spiral? Pray to that. Ask the Lord to give you some peace in that. Because again, GPT’s out there. There’s no putting it back in. You can’t unsend that artificial intelligence into the world. Can we better manage what we release in the future? Absolutely. Can that be done with a conscience and morals and professional vetting and intentional design for what we want to see for our world? Yeah, and we should. And yet we didn’t. We don’t know what that means yet, but we do know that A.I. is powerful and it has a lot of upside and there’s certainly the potential for some downside. So that’s all I’ll say for today.
Nathan [00:31:41] And finally, the question was asked is limiting time on technology causing my children to just pine for it? Am I making it worse? Am I making it a bigger thing in their mind that I should just give them and it won’t be a big deal? First of all, I love the question. I love the heart behind this that parents are saying, All right, I want to love my kid well, and I want to give them good things. So I would start with that. Give your child good things. First, wait for them to ask. The parable goes, if your child asks you for an egg, don’t give them a scorpion. Make sure they’ve asked you for the egg first and foremost. Your child will not somehow fail as an adult because they never asked you for video games or social media or smart phones. That just won’t happen. But assuming they’ve asked you and you want to give them good gifts, then the second thing is make sure that you’re giving them a good gift. Make sure it’s safe. Make sure it fits your family’s expectations and values. Make sure that it’s a good fit for your child in this season. I point to Galatians 5:22 for that. When they use this thing, will it help them produce love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and gentleness and self-control? Will they have those things more if they have it than if they don’t? If it doesn’t produce that, then the answer is no. And maybe it’s just no for the season until they mature. Maybe it’s no because this tech is just a bad choice for anybody. I don’t know, but that’s a question you need to ask. Then as parents, we’ve made sure it’s safe. We made sure it fits the family. We made sure it’s a good fit for our children. We need to make sure that in this season our child is shown themselves as trustworthy. So safe piece of tech with a kid who’s just not ready for it is a poor choice. So we need to make sure that our child is shown us trustworthiness and things like how they handle their responsibilities, their chores, their family meals, their relationships with friends and their siblings, their schoolwork, their sports, their outside commitments. Maybe they’re committed to their church or to mowing the lawn of the neighbor, I don’t know. But making sure that technology is never coming above and now crushing and or even eclipsing the other opportunities our children have. So in our family, when it comes to video games, both of my sons have asked for video games. I have introduced them at a very light level, old school games that don’t have a ton of behavioral design, Super Mario games, talking original Wii. At that level, I saw the both of my sons struggle with focus one more than the other. One of them thought about it for weeks. So in my child’s or in my estimation, for that child, I say, “Hey, no, this is not good for you in this season. There’s a chance that your brain will develop to a point where you go, Yeah, I can handle this now. I can simply play it and enjoy it and walk away. And I’m not going to use it for hope, but right now it’s way too much engagement.” So what do I do? I don’t simply say no. When we say no to things because we say child, it’s either not safe or it’s not a good fit for our family or it’s not good fit for you, or you’re not ready to be trusted with this. We don’t just walk away and say, “So, that’s just a hard lesson. I hope you find something interesting.” We go out of our way to make something awesome. I call it Analog Adventures. There’s whole podcast episodes on it. You can go look them up. But for example, with my sons, I tell them, and I tell Anna that we’re going to overspend on board games. It’s equally interesting. This particular son also happens to love being focused and rules are his jam. So while it’s not video games, a lot of it is there. The adventures there, the cooperation is there, the interesting rules, the fantastical settings. Board games can do a lot. Now, it’s not just any old board game. Still needs to be a good fit, still needs to be safe. But there are a lot of great options. And I’m going to overspent. I’m going to spend 100 bucks on a board game instead of 50 bucks on a video game. Not every time, but I’m going to spend that kind of money and sometimes I’ll spend 50 bucks on a board game instead of a $6 app game because it’s a better option for my family. My sons can walk away from them. We still see fixation. There are seasons where I know what to move on from this game. What is going to cool it for a while, but it’s way slower. It’s way lower engagement. It’s harder to overplay on your own, and it generally demands people and present thought. Some point your brain fatigues and you can’t remember the rules. You can’t play anymore. Awesome.
Nathan [00:35:52] So are you denying your child technology and therefore you’re going to send them on some kind of bender because you never gave them a childhood? That only is going to happen if you’ve been cruel in this process. Your child raised up in love and hope, seeing the potential they have in so many areas and feeding the passions God’s given them through whatever analog adventure you see fit to provide them with. They’re not then going to one day discover a smartphone with their friend and be like, Oh, the internet. I never knew, right? They’re not going to do that. They’re going to know their boundaries. Will they struggle with stuff they find? Probably. They’re a human being with their own foibles and flaws, but they’re not going to dive off the deep end after never having shown interest in something because you didn’t let them make their mistakes early. If they are interested in smartphones, interested in streaming, or being a streamer interested in video games, then that is absolutely a way you need to find a healthy way to engage. For my son, I tried. You know what? Still not healthy. I’m not just going to throw it at you and hope it works out like I’m not going to be like, “Well, you better experience a lack of help before you’re 18.” No, I want you to experience maximum health. So if you’re 18 and you still have that little tick and you go to engage it on your own, you will see the difference. You’ll get that input and go, “Yeah, I get it. It’s fun and exciting, but man, I hate how it makes me feel. I want the life and the joy and the presence and the ability to hear from the Lord that I had when I didn’t have this thing in my life.” That’s again, only if your child has shown themselves to not be healthy. Make sure it’s safe, Family fit, good for your child, and they can be trusted.
Nathan [00:37:31] So that’s our question. Again, there were five questions from families. I hope that this was encouraging for you and helpful. Absolutely. We could dive into any one of these for 30, 40 minutes, but I thought it’d be better just to take the big the big picture today. I hope this is encouraging for you and that it was something you can use and apply to your family, that you’ll send it to friends if you did find it encouraging and maybe even leave a review and a rating for the podcast. And I also hope that you’ll join us next week as we continue this conversation about how we can love God and use tech.