It’s going to happen: Your child is going to come home from school completely enthralled with some new tech. One of their classmates, or someone on their team, will have something new and shiny, and they’re going to bring you a pitch for one: a smartphone, video game, or the latest social media platform.
Whatever it is, you’ve got to have an answer. In today’s episode we’ll walk you through exactly how to do that, and how to use these tech conversations as a win for both you and your child.
Purposely. Your life. God’s purpose. Listen at onpurposely.com. 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, our conversation is going to be about your child asking for new tech. Now that they’re back at school, we are part of our seven part back to school series.
Uh, please do check in on last week’s series, we got to talk a little bit about three steps to healthy tech at home, and we are going to take that information we talked about common space for tech, how to protect our sleep and how to have the tech talk at least an introduction to the tech talk. And we’re gonna take that to this conversation about how can we handle this idea of like a big tech pushback? Right? Our kids go to school, they see someone with technology they want, and they wanna incorporate that into their own lives. It might be a smartphone social media, a game, but the conversation is gonna roughly look the same, no matter what that technology is.
So by the end of this conversation today, You will walk away equipped to be able to lovingly have that conversation with your young person as young as five or six, or as old as 15, 16, 17, uh, someone under your roof who is coming to you and wanting to initiate this tech conversation. And at the end of the day, you will be equipped and empowered to do so confidently and to know that you can do so lovingly as well. So with no further a. Let’s get this conversation started.
Welcome to the gospel tech podcast, a resource for parents who feel overwhelmed and outpaced as they raise healthy youth in a tech world. As an educator, parent, and tech user, I want to equip parents with the tools, resources, and confidence they need to raise kids who love God and use tech.
Thank you to everyone who has made this podcast possible. Thank you for listening on apple podcast, Spotify, the purposely podcast network, and even just gospel tech. You can go to gospel tech.net/podcast. Listen right off our website. So thank you for listening. Thank you as well for sharing. Thanks for telling your friends.
Uh, it’s amazing to be a part of your lives to be a part of your parenting journey. And that is what motivates myself and Anna to do this work is to see parents equipped, to see you empowered, to talk about healthy tech, to understand and share the gospel clearly, and to connect that tech. Or, excuse me, connect the gospel to your daily tech lives.
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So thanks for being on that with us today. We are talking about what happens when our child brings home new technology, right? Here’s your kid’s gonna go to school and they’re going to pitch you something that they saw at school. It might be, I mean, as simple as a pair of sneakers, it might be, they wanna play that new sport, but there’s a really good chance there’s gonna be some tech that comes home from school, but they want a smart watch, a smartphone, that new video game and whatever it is, you’re gonna have to have some kind of an answer. So how are you going to be ready for the impossible. There’s no way right now, in any reasonable amount of time, I can give you a download on both the content and representation of what all the tech would be and the value of it.
It wouldn’t be worth either of our time to a, to attempt to cover everything from virtual reality things, to, uh, smart watches and apps and games and all the things out there. So instead, here’s what I wanna preface this conversation with. You are a parent who knows your child and you love them. Therefore, I wanna empower you.
With the reality that it’s okay to say, no. You don’t need a reason. And here’s what I’ll say. I’m starting with a no. If you default to no, on new tech, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. It doesn’t mean you’re from the the dark ages. It doesn’t mean that you’re archaic and out of touch with reality, you can say no, just because you have a spidey sense.
No explanation needed. Let’s start with a no, and don’t worry. It moves from a no, we’ll have a conversation on how you can lovingly have. Tech journey, but you can start there. You can say no, just because you had a bad personal experience; in my life that might be video games. My kid says, can I play video games? No. And I get to share a little of my testimony where God’s brought me from, uh, it might just be that this is a brand new idea and you know, nothing, you don’t have a single spy sense. You don’t have enough information to actually even know what they’re asking you. That’s okay. You can say no, because you need time to process.
So I want you to begin with knowing you can say, no, you can still be a loving parent. You can still be well informed and you can still be intentional in this tech journey, starting with a no with that, say no, can also be a teachable moment because if your child pushes back, which more than likely they will, they probably expected a no, they’re gonna start pitching you. Lots of ideas. Yeah.
But so, and so has it, and these are some good perks and I know that I’ve done these things, but I’ve got right. They start to argue. Lean into that. That’s what you want out of this conversation, more than anything, more than getting the quote unquote “right” answer about tech. You wanna know your child better and you want to hear what makes them tick and you want to give them space to share what motivates them.
And that’s wonderful. I’m not telling you to encourage them that actually make you a pitch. I’ll return to that in a moment, I’m encouraging you to start asking questions about what this tech is and what they think is cool about it. So things like, uh, what about this new tech do you like? Right. Tell me a little more about it and just listen, like maybe you can start to make references like, oh, it is kind of like that one app or that one game or that one thing I, I already have a frame of reference for.
All right. It’s just another form of social media. Cool. Got it. And just have ’em talk, ask him, uh, what are their friends use this tech for. A wonderful question. I love framing questions for your child. About their friends, because they’re more than willing to talk about their friends. And they really don’t love breaking the fifth amendment and talking about themselves.
So ask them about their friends, ask them generally positive things about their friends, and they’re be more willing to share. How do they picture it fitting into their life? And maybe even your life as a family, like where would this go? What would this look like? How would it impact us as a family? How would it benefit you?
How do they propose paying for it is always an interesting conversation. And finally, what limits do they think would be beneficial? How do, how do you see this fitting in with all the things you’ve already got and how will you know when it’s outside the bounds of healthy and well, just to get the ball rolling and it’ll give you a great chance to hear what they’ve already processed.
What kinds of info they’re already putting together. And often it’ll give a feel for the real motivation. We always wanna know what our children are thinking. So this conversation alone, again, it’s a win. And remember when talking to our kiddos about their desires and goals, it is very important to remember it is real to them.
So this can happen as young as kindergarten. That was the first time my son came and pitched me, uh, the idea of a smartphone. He had a buddy in kindergarten. Must have been six, uh, was playing Minecraft in class. So we had to have a conversation. Dad can have a smartphone. What, what do you need a smartphone?
How’d you figure that there was a thing. Why do you need one? Well, so, and so has one in class. Interesting. Tell me about that. When are they using it? Well, are they use it during our free, free time? Like after we finish our work, what are they doing on it? They’re playing a video game. What video game? Like just those little conversations with the six year old, all the way up to our 16, 17, even 18 year olds.
Um, what is it about this tech that you want to get in on? Right. What’s motivating you. Uh, we need to remember then that’s a real desire. These are real goals they have. And the experience they’re having is real. Even if, to me, it’s laughable that a six year old should have a smartphone, even if I don’t love the idea of another kid playing, uh, video games in class, my son thinks that’s awesome.
And I wanna find out what about that? What, what about it is I can think of why I might think it’s awesome because I’m not having to do my schoolwork and I always have a distraction in hand, but I wanna hear it from my kid. And I’m going to take it for what my kids says. That doesn’t mean I’m gonna say yes.
It doesn’t mean that I’m going to immediately, uh, accept any pushback my child gives me and it doesn’t mean my child has the right to be rude or disrespectful in the process. I’m not gonna be bullied. I’m not gonna be berated or annoyed into giving in, but it means that this matters to my kid. And therefore this just got value.
Even if something I never would’ve given the time of day before my child has value. This now has value. And my job is to lovingly have the conversation. I I’m saying all that because I wanna make sure we’re respectful of our kiddos goals and dreams. Even if they’re misplaced, it’s still a goal and dream, and it does still tie into reality because it’s something that’s captured your child’s heart for one reason or another.
So let’s have the real conversation. Let’s have them talk it out and saying no is okay. Just know that you, you can be a great parent and say no to tech. It can even be your default either because of a spidey sense because of a bad experience, or just because you want more info, use that as, as that foot in the door for beginning the conversation.
So I, I start there because. Really you could stop the podcast right now and just move on with your day and you’re gonna do great on whatever happens with whatever new technology comes home, because you’re gonna lovingly intentionally enter your child’s world. We talked about how the gospel, uh, makes us be humble because we recognize we were sinners in need of a savior and we were saved then by grace and that out of grace, we’re gonna step into our kids’ lives, even in their bad ideas. Even when we can see where this is going, we’re not just gonna have the right answers. We’re gonna lovingly help process that because God’s also working in our kids’ life. So we’re not there to fix ’em, we’re there to love them.
So with that then whether or not you allow tech, whichever way you go, yay. Or nay default. Yes. Default. No, I gave you, my thoughts on defaulting. Nos are perfectly safe and loving spot to be. Whichever way you land though you are making that decision because of these three categories. So even if you say, no, I need more time or no, I’ve had a bad experience or no, I don’t even have enough information like to begin to process this, uh, healthfully when you do arrive at, at a final answer because no is still an okay final answer. Yes is also another, okay final answer. It has to hit these three categories. We it’s, because I’ve become convinced that this technology passes or fails the, uh, category of safety, the category of our family goals and purpose and the category of my child’s goals and purpose. And let’s just walk through these, the first thing we’re gonna ask with a technology, maybe I said, no, I need more time to look at it.
Or hard note, like I already have all the information it’s because I, I can look at these three or absolutely because I have the information and I can say these three are good. We start with safety. Simple question. Is this tech safe? Breaking that down. Is it tool or drool tech?, Does it create or consume?
We’re gonna need to know that if you don’t know what I mean, go back to the, the first of these, uh, back to school episodes. And I, I run through those real quickly, give some examples, but we need to know that so that we can properly. Process what this tech does and how it does it. Second, does it provide access to the internet?
The internet is a place where strangers pornography distraction exist. We need to know that if we’re going to be able to understand if this thing is healthy, does this tech have apps again? Apps are a different way of accessing the internet. But it’s also internet that is user based, meaning it builds you a feed and it gives you information that it thinks you want, uh, in order to engage your time, your focus and your money.
So does it have apps? If it has apps that’s another tick on this. All right. Further conversation and diving into family supports and what kind of protections are there and what happens if, and when something goes wrong, all those things begin to become next, follow up questions. Will there be strangers right in this digital hangout area they want to join whatever this technology is. If it’s a game, if it’s social media, if it’s some other kind of interest app, who are you engaged. Fifth is, is it easy to put down? Does it constantly overstep boundaries of personal goals and motivation and remind you that you need to use it, or does it wait there?
And it’s just a wonderful, uh, addition to your life. Six is, can it be overstimulating? Does it happen faster than real life? Will it put your body into a state that’s gonna be hard to focus or hard to rest or hard to walk away from? And the seventh is, uh, is your child proven that they can be trusted with this level of commitment and freedom?
So trusted in the little things means that we can be trustworthy in greater things. How do you treat your siblings? How do you follow through on family expectations? How’s your attitude? How’s your school work, whatever those little responsibilities we’re giving our children, are they proving faithful in those?
Or do we continually have to be the ones making those decisions? Cause at the end of the day with technology, especially in the smartphone and digital internet world, the mistakes are just made faster and bigger because of the amplifying effective technology. So we want to lovingly help our children make bad decisions at a slower rate, if that’s what they’re showing us. So that’s kind of a breakdown of how we can ask ourselves, is this tech safe before we’ve ever gone into it. We’re not even doing a reset at this point. Last episode we talked, or, yeah, we talked about last episode and the episode before what a reset is, but it’s a way to assess if tech is healthy tech we’re currently using this is talking about tech we might be using, we might go and use at some point, is it.
That’s the first question we need to ask about whatever we use. The second question we ask is, does it support your family’s goal? Your family has expectations for tech use. If you do not yet, it’s not because you don’t have them. You do have them. You just, maybe haven’t made them explicit yet. So I would encourage you to please make a set of expectations. It can be, uh, a set of what I would call a family framework for technology. If you go gospel tech workshop.com, it’s a paid course. It’s an online course. You can take it in two hours. If you do it all at once. There’s videos that guide you through, there’s a workbook, a PDF, and, and also a physical one.
I can mail you, uh, that will walk you through how to make a family framework. The first half is how do you. Or excuse me, the first half is how do you talk about technology tool tech and jewel tech reset, those kinds of, uh, kind of framework. Groundwork, if you will. And the second part is how do we make the framework?
And it walks you through the six categories and you do that. You need, that would be the more intense side of these are the six pieces we’re ready for this conversation. If you’re not ready for that, I would encourage you to simply add this one piece, Philippians four eight, when you, when a child says, Hey, can I use this technology? You go, all right, we have the, is it safe? Is it tool or drool? Are there concerning connections on the internet? Are there strangers there, right. All that. Have you proven yourself trustworthy? The second is, does it support our family goal and we at least have the goal of Philippians for. Whatever is true.
Whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable. Whatever’s excellent. If anything is worthy of praise, think about these things. That’s gonna be a standard for the shows we watch, the social media we engage how we behave online, what we rest our minds on.
It’s a wonderful standard and it’s incredibly convicting. So we can start there as a family goal. If you don’t have time for the family framework kit, if you do have the family framework, then you’ll have ground rules. The time plays content priorities, the safety of the tech, and you’ll be able to reference back to those.
It makes it real nice and condensed, so you can actually use it in daily life. But a great spot to start is at least Philippians 4.. Does it line up with family goals? If it doesn’t, this is a teaching opportunity, a parenting opportunity. This is what Proverbs means when it says, raise your children up in the way they should go doesn’t mean have perfect rules so that your kids will be perfect.
They never will be. So it means show them how to live as imperfect people in need of a savior. That concept of being a Saint you’re a you’re a sinner saved by grace doesn’t mean you don’t sin anymore. It means your sins are covered and you’re a new creation in Christ a heart that’s being renewed by the holy spirit every day, Philippians 4:8 is a way to then test that go.
All right. I want this app. Does it line up with this. No, not exactly. Okay. Let’s go there. What do you mean by not exactly cause there are some things that, well, there, there are these things, but they’re just kind of raw and they’re tough and they’re not fun and they’re not like unicorns. Is it still Philippians 4 it?
Their story’s worth reading and art worth consuming and conversations worth having that aren’t those things, but they are true and honest and loving and whole and pure. And when those conversations happen, light is expos, uh, is exposing brokenness and hurt and lies in this world. That’s great then. Cool then yes, this, this is cleared.
If it doesn’t do those things and it actually creates sin and confusion and hurt, then we don’t want to. And by having this conversation point, we’ve just exposed that for our children and we’ve showed them how to do it without having all the answers by just having some good questions, right. We can actually bring Christ into situations.
So that’s what we wanna talk about with a family goal. Uh, the second. So that’s your family expectation for tech. The second is your family goal for your time and your focus. Uh, even your money, you have a limited finite amount. Your family has expectations. So where does this technology fit in with those finite resources?
I would throw out like family meals. How does this fit in with our family meals? How does it fit in with your interest in sports? How does this fit in with our expectations for school, for getting a job, for our church commitments, for your relationships, friends and, uh, otherwise right. Dating relationships, how does this tech fit in?
And that leads us to the third and final point is how does this support your personal goals for yourself and your purpose? So if the first was, is the tech safe.. And the second is, does it support us as our family and our goals going with Philippians 4:8 as a base level standard, and then how we have committed as a family to spend our time money and our focus third is alright, child of mine you have a purpose in Christ.
Ephesians 2:10 says when you’re saved by Christ, you have a purpose prepared beforehand for you to do, does this line up with it? Now, this might seem like a huge conversation to have, because it can be intimidating to think about like, oh, what’s my purpose. Who was I designed to be? We have these identity crisis, even as adults, but I want to encourage you in 10 years of teaching middle school kids know the answer to this question they know about, they know about it.
Well, with who they’re dating. If you go to a young person and say, Hey, does that person, uh, line up with who you wanna become? They will probably have an answer. And if they don’t ask them this. A year from. Do you wanna be more of who you’re becoming when you’re dating that person? And the question works with your schoolwork.
Hey, are, is your schoolwork the, the way you’re going about your education, isn’t lining up with who you wanna become. And if they don’t know that answer, say a year from now, do you wanna be more of this person? I did this in a high school classroom end of last year. So end of the, it would’ve been like may of, uh, 20, 22, uh, end of this last school year, I guess.
And I asked the question to a group of sophomores and juniors and a kid right in the front row just goes. No! It’s out loud. And I was like, all right, like, didn’t exactly mean for you to say that, but the reason I ask it every single time I talk to young people is it is, it works and I’ve seen and truly believe, uh, now having done this job, uh, so many years with young people, in addition to my teaching experience, that that question is providing this opportunity for the holy spirit.
And for that child’s conscience to kind of rear up and look past the fun or the stress, or even just the shame that they’re experiencing and say no, like. Isn’t what I’m supposed to be. Your child understands at least something of their purpose, uh, whether or not they know the Lord, whether or not they’ve bent their knee and submitted to God’s will for their life.
They know whether they’re on track to become more of who they want to be. Uh, and that’s the conversation we wanna inspire. So when we talk about this phone or this smart watch, or this video game, or the social media or whatever the tech is, we just ask that question. It doesn’t mean your child knows all of it.
It doesn’t even mean, you know, this right answer. It means you want to ask the question and you want to be in the conversation with your young person. And that’s what matters. So as we look at this bigger, uh, oh, this third piece of, does it line up with your child’s goals and your child’s purpose? You as a parent can speak into that.
Uh, I will say that when I look at my three children have Owen, Henry Hadley, they’re eight, six, and three. I have been able to tell from about, I don’t know, 18 months, two years that these children are wired differently from the way they interact with others, from the way they interact with mom and dad, from the way they, uh, what they find interest and, and passion in.
Uh, and it has just continued to grow and yes, they’re young people and yes, they’re gonna continue, uh, Adapting and changing and, and really growing and focusing in certain areas, but they are still extremely unique and that their uniqueness has not changed. Owen has always been focused and driven, um, and just the way he engages everything from storybooks to Legos, to, uh, the personalities around him.
That’s just who he is. As a, as a young man, he’s kept a calendar since he was four. Uh . He does a better job at it than me. Writes things down to remind me. Thanks buddy. Uh, and Henry on the other hand has been the most gregarious, young person that we’ve had. Uh, he walks into a, a crowd of people he doesn’t know, but there’s not a single stranger in the room.
They’re just friends he hasn’t met yet. And that is how he is wired. And we can see that unique gifting of the Lord in him, and sure it can get misused but our job as parents is to feed it and remind him and redirect it because we certainly can’t stamp it out. And there’s no way we could make that happen.
And Hadley, we’re still seeing Hadley come through, but we know that she is a really unique mix of both of them. She has a lot of drive and she is incredibly social. Um, and our job isn’t to make that more than it is, it’s simply to recognize it and say, all right, I see that God has wired you this way.. How’s he gonna use it.
This is where the curiosity of parenting comes in. And that’s where this question comes in. We don’t ask our child, does this line up with your goals for yourself and your purpose? Because we know the answer, we that’s what our family wants. That’s the second part is, does it support our family goals?
That’s the part we control. Our family has goals. Our family has purpose. We’ve been called that this ministry of loving you young people, the. One, does it line up with your goals and purpose? Child of mine is to get a heart check. What do you think your purpose and goal is? What do I need as a, as a parent to help support and encourage, and let’s help you think through this process for yourself.
If you continue down this road, is it gonna get you to where you want to be. Right? Young people want to belong. They want to be loved. They want to have purpose. Many of them are pursuing it in wrong and unhealthy ways. And many of them get stuck in those decisions sometimes just cuz they don’t see a way out.
And so we get to lovingly help them process that, um, both here at the beginning and as tech enters their lives. If it starts to go off the rails to go, Hey, maybe this thing is unhealthy and unhelpful. So I hope, I hope that makes sense. And I hope that’s encouraging. Um, but I just wanna, I guess, emphasize that, that third point about asking your child about their goal is to really begin that conversation. Not to necessarily have all the answers. So please start. It don’t feel like you have to know before you ask on that one. Man. All right. So we have talked big picture and I’ve kept it big picture because, uh, the finite details can get really unique family by family. Uh, I’ve shared before that I’ve talked to two different families with two young men, uh, one, one in each family, both of them failing classes because of video games, but one symptomatic. He had something else huge going on in his life that he needed help with. And the other was simply causal. Uh, the video games went away and he immediately started doing better in life. And that’s a conversation that, again, we need the parents to be engaged in, we need loving adults to be engaged in because it can be so unique.
So we’re gonna end this episode right here. And what I’m gonna do is for the first time ever, I’m gonna release a shorter episode on Thursday, where we’re gonna actually talk through smartphones, uh, social media and video games and gaming systems as three example conversations of if your child walks home from school one day and pitches you this idea.
How would we walk through this idea of, is it safe? Uh, does it support our family goals? Does it support our child’s goal and purpose? So, uh, if you want more details, tune in Thursday, you’ll get a short episode. It’ll be, I’m guessing 10 to 12 minutes. Uh, but I thought it’d be a little bit too much to add on to this episode.
I do want to keep it concise and value your time. Uh, so thank you for being a part of this and to review today’s conversation. Um, Let’s remember that it’s okay to say no. If your child comes with a new tech it’s right to say, Hey, the answer is no we’re defaulting no. And I’m not gonna say yes until I have more information, right.
Uh, the, you can say no because I’m, I’m not exactly sure. I I’ve got a spidey sense tingle that’s telling me no. Or I’ve had bad history with this technology myself. My example would be video games from my life. Right. Like, just know, because too entangled with that situation or, Hey, I don’t have enough information yet. Let’s do this research together. You can say no for those three. And then when you land on a yes or no, is your long term answer, you’re going to do it because you’ve asked these three questions. You’re gonna say yes, because I know it’s safe. Yes. Because it supports our family goal and yes, because you and I are convinced that this supports your personal goals and purpose child of mine or no the opposite of those three, but that’s how we’re getting to our answer on these new techs.. Not just because we’re old people yelling get off my lawn and we don’t understand it, but because this thing matters, cuz it matters to our child. This is a parenting opportunity. Whether or not we get the tech answer, right we are loving our child in it. And if we get it wrong, We’re going to get to model what it looks like to ask for repentance and change our thoughts because we have new information. So that is what we are doing here with this technology. It is gonna happen, but you are now equipped and empowered. I hope you feel encouraged in that.
Like you could go tonight and continue that tech conversation with your kiddo that you’ve been putting off. Or when it happens in the next couple weeks that you’ll be able to lovingly begin that conversation with them in a way that is gonna be encouraging. Um, I just would ask that you would, uh, if this was encouraging to you that you would share it with somebody who could use this in their own parenting, their own life, uh, that you would begin to look for ways to engage those tech conversations with your kiddo. Maybe it’s just tool or drool tech, maybe it’s talking through a reset, uh, and that you’d join us either Thursday or next week as we continue this conversation about how we can love God and use tech.