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How Do We Keep the Internet Safe at Home?

How do we keep the internet safe at home?

This question haunts the minds and hearts of parents who have young children and a house filled with modern tech: smartphones, smart tvs, tablets, laptops (some provided by school), how do we raise our kids to be healthy and whole?

Today we answer this question! We’ll focus on three practical areas:

  1. Develop a culture of healthy tech
  2. Set healthy boundaries
  3. Build a hedge

Show Links:

Follow Gospel Tech: Online | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Gospel Tech Workshop

Andy Crouch book: Tech Wise Family

Malcolm Gladwell book: Talking to Strangers

Family Calendar App: Lome

Accountability Resource: Bark

Gryphon Router

Parental Control: Circle

 

Transcription:

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, we are on episode 139. We are talking about back-to-school content, and we are looking at how do we keep the internet safe for our children in this conversation.

We are specifically talking about what practical steps can we take to begin walking into this conversation about keeping the internet safe; making it a spot where we don’t have to be intimidated. We don’t have to just hope for the, or constantly fear the worst, but we can actually be actively leaning into our children’s worlds, making intentional decisions about what technology they will have access to. Setting up healthful boundaries around that which we are gonna, and then, I guess the third part of that, is building what we’re gonna call a hedge. A technological hedge that makes mistakes hard to make and makes accountable accountability more available. So, it’s less of us policing our children and more us loving them and truly raising them up in the way they should go. So, I’m excited for this conversation. I hope it will be an encouragement to you. And with no further ado, 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 helped make this podcast possible. Thank you for listening. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for rating and reviewing. It is a huge encouragement to watch as more people join this podcast. But I would argue even more encouraging than the new people joining, are the people that keep showing up. Like, you know what we do here! You heard me before, and yet here you are again. So, thank you for being a part of this; for sharing it with your churches, with your schools, with your co-ops. I will say a quick word on that. This last two weeks has been super, super encouraging in that we’ve had people just reaching out saying, Hey, would you come talk at our church? Would you come talk to our community? Pastors. I’ve had four pastors in the last week, just reach out and say, Hey, we are hungry for this content for our people. What can you do for us? One pastor just left me a voicemail and was like, I don’t even know if you still do this content… like, he didn’t know about the podcast or anything. He’s like, I don’t even know. I heard that this was something you might be doing. Would you do it?

So, thank you. That’s all word-of-mouth stuff. We don’t have a marketing department who like cold calls. We don’t have any of that. It’s all word of mouth. And we I mean, I don’t know. I, we are so encouraged, Anne and I and I am personally, so encouraged to see this work, helping families. That’s my big takeaway. More than the calls coming in. It’s the reason why we, we see lives changing. We see parents empowered. We see the fear that goes with these conversations evaporating, and parents stepping out in confidence knowing, wait, I don’t, I don’t have to know every app, every game, every internet solution. I don’t have to know tech, you know jargon. I can just step into my child’s world, know my child and then connect the gospel regularly. And like we’re getting tools to do that. And that’s what I’m so pumped about. So, thanks for helping us do that. If you want to join us on this, please leave a rating and review.

Most of you are listening over apple podcasts. So, you go down to the bottom. We ask for five-star rating. I’m trying to make five-star content. If this is not five-star content, you can reach out to me, nathan@gospeltech.net or @loveGodusetech on Instagram and Facebook and a little one or two sentence review saying, how, how did this help you? If it’s a five-star review, people love to know how it’s helping them. That helps more people find us, and us help more families love God and use tech. So, thank you all for doing that.

Today’s conversation. How can we make tech safe at home? We got those three parts. We’re gonna develop a culture of healthy tech at home. We’re gonna set healthy boundaries and we’re gonna build a hedge. The build the hedge is the one that might feel kind of technical to families. And it’s where I found families get kind of intimidated. So, I’m gonna be really clear on that real succinct. I give you a couple real practical tools and I get to announce two partnerships we’ve got right now with amazing companies that help us do exactly what we’re thinking about right now. So, not to spoil my own announcements there, but it is a cool part of where we’re seeing this going. And these are partnerships that you guys have helped us connect with. So, thank you all for being an active part of building this conversation for families.

So, number one, build a healthy culture with technology. The first part of doing that, like that’s a good idea. No one wants an unhealthy culture at home, but how do we do it? We model it. The number one thing we’re gonna do is model how to use tech well. It’s not just have a bunch of rules on how to not use tech. Because we’ve found that rules don’t change hearts. They’re important. We want rules. We’ll get to that. But right now, we’re talking about how do we model healthy tech. Meaning what’s our relationship with tech. We need to give ourselves a tech reset. Go ahead and ask your children. Anyone ages, I don’t know, six or older, we’ll be able to tell you how you’re doing on a reset. How is tech with your relationships and your responsibilities? Is it improving it or impeding it? How’s it impacts your enjoyment, your sleep, your emotions, and your time? Ask your young people, ask your spouse to give you some feedback on that. You’re modeling the humility that’s required to be present in this conversation and you’re taking that first step, where now that’s gonna become a family expectation. We want a healthy reset. We want it to be improving all five of those areas. And if it’s not, we’re gonna have a conversation about, is this actually the best tech for us, right? So, that’s part of modeling.

Another part of modeling, which we will get into in a little bit is gonna have to do with our boundaries. So, I’m not gonna step into that yet, but know that what you do with your personal behavior, your personal tech use, is being watched by your children and it’s more important than whatever the rules are that you have. So, rules are great. They will be important, but modeling healthy tech, here’s a great win you can get with modeling healthy tech. Use something that is healthful tech that points your family back to your healthy goals. So, maybe this tech a partner that actually we’ve got is called lo so withlome.com. They’re an amazing resource and it’s basically a family calendar mixed with a personalized Pinterest board. So, the idea behind the Lome, what I really like about ’em is their goal is to see every household flourish. And they don’t do that by embedding drool techs. Pinterest is drool tech. Its goal is to just keep you spiraling and building boards and sharing ideas. And that’s wonderful and creative and awesome, but sometimes you’ll leave it going, I don’t even know why I went on there. Right. I, I went for a specific reason and then it distracted me, cuz it has a goal of its own and wants to take your time, you’re focus, your money. Or at least if it can’t take your money, make money off you by taking your time and your focus. So, Lome does a similar aggregate idea; focus, but doesn’t do it by profiting off you. So, they, what they can do is they can help you build out your calendar where you’re gonna now focus your, your priorities. You’re gonna say family, this is how we wanna spend our time this week. This is how we wanna spend our focus this week. This is how we’re gonna spend our resources this week, your sports, your church stuff, your family dinners. It all goes on there. Your activities together, cuz you’re building adventure together.

Lome helps you do that. And it has this really neat kind of family vetting process where you can send in to Lome, it knows number of family members you’ve got and that kind of stuff, and it kicks out ideas for you. So, like, Hey, I want a conversation topic for tonight, Lome; and it kicks you a conversation topic that’s been vetted by other families in Lome so you know all the ideas that come back are our winner. So, I, I really like that. And I also like that right now. It’s just free. It, there is a monthly subscription version. Right now, they’re in this basically ramping upstage. They’re growing rapidly and they want more families and they’re, they’ve made it free.

So, you can go to withlome.com and check it out. And this is a way to use tech with your kids. You’re modeling what healthy tech can look like, and you’re now helping your family build your other priorities, right? With your time and your resources and your focus. And that’s becoming part of how you’re modeling healthy tech for your kids.

Another way to model healthy tech is to simply be a part of your kids’ tech. We talked about that last week, so I won’t go further into it, but listen to last week’s episode on video games; specifically, the second part, the bonus episode is where I dive into, how can you intentionally lean into modeling healthy, present tech with your kids, even in a drool tech format.

So, the second thing we do once we model healthy tech, we need to support it. It’s great to have your correct actions and hope that your children can see that and understand it, and go well, I’ve, I’ve seen a smartphone used, well, I’ve seen social media use, well, I’ve seen tool tech.

I understand where my entertainment and my personal tech use time. Separates from my development time where I’m actually out working on something. I can understand the difference there. Now it needs to get supported. And the really, the only way to do this is with those rules that we talked about, and those boundaries that I discussed earlier. So, in this case support, it means have a family tech framework. Your kids need to know what is expected. They need to be able to ask questions and you need something other than, stop that! When something does go out, you need to be able to point them back to the why behind a better or a worse choice. So, just for an example, think back to our new tech conversation back in episode 133. Some tech is a great fit. It’s safe. It fits your family expectations. It fits your child’s goals and purpose. Some tech is great, but it’s just not a great fit for you guys. So, it’s safe, that’s cool. But either it doesn’t fit your family expectations, or it doesn’t fit your child. This is just the wrong place, the wrong time, whatever it might be. It’s just not a great connection at this point. And some tech is not only not a good fit, but it might also just be playing unsafe. And that, just that ability to talk that out with your kiddo with this support framework, with this understanding of, children this is what we stand for when it comes to technology is so, so, important. So, if you have that already super cool, high five, please keep doing it. If you’ve built it, just from listening into these podcasts, you understand tool and drool tech, you have a reset you do, and you’ve built basic framework ideas, that’s fantastic. If you want more support in that, and you want something practical that you can go through with your kids, Gospel Tech workshop.com is where I have a two-hour course that I’ve made that walks you through all that. There’s a PDF printable workbook on there. If you send me a note, I can actually mail you a physical workbook. We actually managed to sell out all of our workbook. So, I’ve got two different orders going right now, which is amazing. So, we are getting more ordered, which is incredible. and the Gospel Tech workshop is two hours. If you do it all at once, or you can break it into these little 10-to-12-minute chunks. You can do it every other day, however, works for your family. But you will get a framework out of that. So, it teaches you how to talk about tech and then how to walk that out in daily life. And it’s everything from the tool and drool, to how and why does the gospel apply? Again, that’s gospeltechworkshop.com. This is also what I do in the live talk. So, when I’m getting contacted by churches or by organizations, even retreat centers, this is, this is what they’re asking me to come in and do. A 70-minute version where I talk to parents. Sometimes it’s 70 and I do a 45-minute talk with young people, talking about tech and their supporting conversations. The parent, again, I’m looking to empower you as parents to have these conversations. I want you to understand healthy tech. Understand the gospel. Connect the, go, the hope of the gospel to your daily tech lives. And it helps when I talk to the kids in supporting that. So, they know you’re not just being equipped to rip all their tech away and give them the victory, right? Like it helps diffuse the situation. Cuz when parents, when kids hear, parents are going to a tech talk, they just usually assume their parents are gonna go, come home, burn all their cell phones, like unplug the house from the grid and just live out under a rock somewhere. So, it, it is useful.

The third thing we do is the two-hour workshop, live. So, it’s more of a classic. I talk for five minutes and then parents work for five minutes. Their kids can be present, and that’s really cool. So, both those are options. If you want help supporting it, you want help determining how the conversation could go with your children when it comes to healthful tech at home and in life gospletechworkshop.com, or you can go to the gospeltech.net website and go under speaking and you can, you can request me to come out. I was gonna re reference myself in the third person there. Weird. Sorry about that. But you can reference me to come out or request me to come out.

So, we have the first part of how do we have healthy tech at home? First thing we do is we build a culture of healthy tech by modeling it and supporting it. The second way we have healthy tech at home is by setting healthy boundaries. And I wanna get real specific cuz the family tech framework, there’s some boundaries involved with that, but what we’re really talking about with this conversation is that healthy boundaries are loving. It’s not about policing your kids. It’s not about fighting your children when it comes to technology. Healthy tech boundaries are about setting a time and a place so that we make sure we’re using tech and not letting it use us. This is the main problem with drool tech is that drool tech has a separate goal. So, tool tech, I go to use tool tech and then I walk away. Right now, I’m using tool tech to record this and have a conversation with you in what would be called it an asynchronous manner.

You’re gonna hear the same conversation as the next person who listens, but you’re not hearing it all at the same time. That’s an amazing blessing. It’s a tool that allows the message of the gospel, and the message of this connecting the gospel to our daily tech lives to go out around the world. That’s awesome. However, drool tech has a goal for us. So, the thing you’re using to listen to this podcast probably has some drool tech in it. It probably suggested another podcast when you listen to this one, or you might even have found this through another podcast suggestion. So, it’s not bad, but drool tech does have a goal. It wants you to listen more. It wants you to come back more often. And if it can, it wants you to spend money, which is where premium podcasts come in. Right? Like, oh, like that content is great, but for five bucks a month or whatever, whatever it might be, you can get this other content too. Don’t you want that? And that is the entire idea of drool tech. What healthy tech boundaries help us do is they help us spot it, and then ask the question, all right, do I need that extra content? There are absolutely podcasts where I’d pay five bucks a month if they were ever creating extra content, it would be great. And it would be worth my money. It would be an intentional expenditure, but I would recognize it for what it is. That’s fine. I’m not saying don’t spend money on your tech. I’m saying boundaries help us be intentional. We set the time we set the place and make sure that we use tech and we don’t let tech use us.

Here’s three ways to set intentional boundaries first. Get tech out of the bedroom and meals. We covered this in a previous podcast. I believe it was episode 132, on three steps we can take. But tech out of the bedroom because there’s no evidence that that’s beneficial to have tech in your bedroom. Go back to 132 if you wanna further dive in that. And tech outta meals so we can focus on our relationships and again, focus on modeling, healthy tech. Give attention to the faces, not to screens.

The second thing we can do is set a specific window of time to use our tech. So, in our family that looks like, well, so what I mean by that, let me explain that first. Window of tech time means that we’re making tech wait for us. This is an Andy Crouch idea from his book, the tech wise family. And I absolutely love it. And it has pivoted the way we use tech in our family. So, where tech is. So we actually got rid of our television, not cuz we’re against television. Our kids still watch shows, but I realized after reading the tech wise family, that it didn’t make any sense. We’re watching a couple, maybe? Two, three hours of, of show as a family in a week. And yet this thing has all our furniture pointing at it in the main room of our house, where our kitchen is connected to our family room. And then there’s like this TV that everything points at, which is ridiculous. Like that’s not what our family’s about. So, we went to a laptop, and we put the laptop top in a drawer when we’re not using it, and then we’ll pull it out and we’ll watch a Dude Perfect video together and we’ll watch a wild Crats together.

We’ll watch what right now, Anne and I are watching Alone, and it is blowing my mind. If you have not seen that. I have no outdoor woodsman skills, so, that’s an incredible show. A lady just built a house that was like stone age style, like dug it into the ground with a stick in BC. It was crazy. So, that’s, we still have shows, but it’s pivoted how we do it because we’re making a window of time to use it. So, we don’t even have a screen out until it’s screen time. And then we go use our screen, and then we put the screen back in a drawer and we walk away. And I’ve really liked that idea. So, that can be with social media. Great. We’re gonna pick 30 minutes when you can go use social media. If you can’t use social media in 30 minutes, I, I am here to tell you you’re using it wrong. Okay. So, that kind of idea is what we’re going for. Same with video games, same with whatever it might be for technology. This is our window when we go do this thing, then we walk away from it. So, set those time windows set, the specific places it can be used. And then, just keeping that bigger conversation.

So, another thing we do in our family is phones go in a drawer when we get home. Because our family’s there already, it’s ringer is set for our emergency contacts I have ring through. So, everything’s on silent, except three people; grandparents, and another family member. And if something goes off the rails, that phone will ring. I will hear it from the drawer that. Those rings are set to full volume, and we’ll run and grab it and we will check and make sure that everything’s gonna be okay. But until then it goes away. So, we’re not incessantly getting tapped with notifications or reminders or ideas or distractions. And then it’s on us to practice healthful habits. Like I need not go just take a quick peek at whatever that app is with that new news update or whatever that I’m getting distracted by. So, those are healthy tech boundaries, and they’re just putting tech in their proper time in place so that we can make sure we use it and not let it use us.

Which brings us to a quick reflection. We were gonna build a healthy culture of tech at our house. This is how we’re gonna keep the internet safe, specifically. We’re gonna model healthy tech and we’re gonna support that healthy tech with a framework. Then we’re gonna set boundaries, like putting it in a physical place, and in an actual time in our schedule; this is our tech time. It’s not just whenever we feel it. It’s not 30 seconds, every five minutes. We’re not even worried so much at, in, in this conversation about boundaries. About the total amount of time, we’re just worried about being okay with time, with tech. Staying where it needs to stay and, and not letting it kind of creep into all the crevices and nooks and crannies of our hearts and lives.

So, then the third thing is, we’re gonna build a hedge. And this is the spot where a lot of parents feel intimidated. They feel like they don’t know the technology that’s out there. And so, that, I’m very excited for this particular part of the conversation, because I think we can make it simple and approachable so that you can feel empowered to apply this at your own, in your own home for that safe internet. But before we do, I wanna make sure that I frame this correctly, the goal of any kind of accountability of any kind of intervention in your network or your internet at home is not to somehow make your child good. To somehow make sure they’ll never make a mistake online or to win arguments with your child. A lot of times when we start thinking, as parents are like, oh, I just wanna know everything that’s happening on their phone. We, what we’re trying to do there is win. And by our power, make sure our child is safe, or good, or whatever we have in our head or heart. And I’m telling you that’s the wrong attitude. If you are that scared about what your child is doing on the internet, they have not earned the trust to be on those devices on whatever you’ve provided them on the internet. They’re gaming devices, their smart phones, your personal computers… whatever’s happening, like, there’s something else wrong. If that’s what’s happening, your child only has this access because you’ve already determined it’s safe for them. It fits your family expectations. And it’s a good decision for your child. They’ve shown themselves trustworthy in small things. They can now be trusted with this bigger thing. And you’re gonna give them that trust with a seatbelt, right? Just like a car. You don’t buy a car and go, well, you’ll be a good driver. Like, there’s other bad drivers out there. You still need a seat belt. Don’t try to save a little bit and you know, not purchase seat belt, same with these devices. We’re not gonna give them the internet and no safety network. Right. We’re gonna build that in.

So, here’s the two approaches for, and really gospel focused approaches that we use for why we’re doing this, and then I’ll tell you how to build the hedge. First is we’re gonna be preventative. And we’re going to Proverbs for this. I really love this idea. We’re coming out of Proverbs 4. It’s a father’s wise instructions, is the title. And it just starts with; Here, O son’s a father’s instruction and be attentive that you may gain insight. For I give you good precepts. Do not forsake my teaching. And then he goes on to talk about, this is what my father told me when I was young. And he told me let your heart hold fast to my words. Keep my commandments, and live. And it continues throughout all the Proverbs. But if you skip to Proverbs 22 and you go down to 17, it says, incline your ear, and this is still my son; and hear the words of the wise and apply your heart to my knowledge, for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you. If all of them are ready on your lips, that your trust may be in the Lord. I have made them known to you today, even to you have I not written. And then he goes on with these 30 sayings he’s gonna do, but this is preventative wisdom. This is saying, son or daughter of mine, I love you. I care for you. And I can see mistakes that will happen because I’ve lived this, or I can see mistakes as I know and love the Lord. And so, I have these loving good rules. So, that’s the first approach here. This is Preventative measures that we are taking and a quick word on that.

The, the book blink by Malcolm Gladwell. When we talk about preventative measures, Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called “Blink” it’s a bigger conversation, but the part that’s really, oh, you know what? I might actually be thinking of talking to strangers. I am. All right. Change that. It’s “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell, but the same idea applies. In this process, he’s digging into kind of how humans interact. And this is a dark example. But please bear with me. At one point, he’s talking about suicide and he’s talking about how simple preventative measures can go a long way to saving lives and uses two examples. The gas used for cooking in the UK and the golden gate bridge. The first is in the UK, there was a really toxic gas that could actually asphyxiate a person in like under 10 minutes. It was very rapid that someone could pass out and be unrecoverable. UK changed that gas and they, what they found is, it was one of the top ways people were taking their lives. They took away the gas and the people didn’t just go find other ways. The suicide rate dropped in the country and then stayed down.

So, there had been a consistent escalating rate of people taking their lives. There was a singular change made and the rate dropped, and then stayed lower. Similar to the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco was struggling with this being a place that seemed to be really attracting this behavior. So, they put up fences. Now anyone would be justified in thinking you’re gonna put up a fence, like the person’s gonna climb the fence. And it turns out they didn’t. Not only did they not climb the fence, so the, the rates of death at that location plummeted, but the rates of overall people taking their own lives, went away. Like that’s mind blowing. Like these people weren’t finding other lives. Why does that matter? What should we be learning from that? We should be learning that they made it lovingly harder for these people to make a bad choice. And that’s one of the things we’re doing here. We’re being preventative in saying, son or daughter of mine, I see that this is dangerous. I’m gonna make it hard for you to make a bad choice in this way. I’m not gonna make it impossible. I’m not gonna expect perfection, but I’m gonna put up a fence. I’m gonna change this to a less, less toxic version of technology so that what, when bad things do happen, if you happen to leave the gas on, it’s not going to be a life-or-death situation for you, right.

We’re gonna put an egg smell in natural gas so you can smell it when it happens, right? Like it’s those kinds of little preventative things. And that’s what we’re doing in this. It’s coming out of Proverbs 4 and Proverbs 22 in this loving, wise approach to life, so that our children can live and be well. And have the opportunity for the living into the potential that God has for them in Christ. So, that’s the first reason we’re doing this.

The second reason is restorative, and we’re going to Matthew 5:18 for this. That if your right hand causes you to sin, you cut it off. And if your right eye causes you to sin, you gouge it out. And if we’re not reading that well, if we’re just hearing that, it can sound like a really gruesome punishment for like making a mistake. And that’s not what it’s saying. It’s actually saying if your right hand is making you ill, if it’s causing you death; or your right eye, even though they’re very important to you, your right hand and your right eye in biblical times, they’re saying that this is your strong hand and your strong eye. And these are symbols of like, Jesus sits at the right hand of the father because he has all dominion under him. Okay. So, this is a, a emphasis on the value and the importance of this thing. Something that is inconvenient. Then it says, cut it off and gouge it out. Not it. Jesus says this. These are his words being quoted, cut it off or gouge it out. And this is painful. So, not only is the thing important. It’s not going to be a pleasant process. And yet it’s loving, because at this point, it’s an admonishment to assess the true cost. Yes. It’s going to be painful and yes, this thing we’re acknowledging this thing is important to you, but it’s gonna kill you. Like, think about what we’re, what we’re dealing with here. You’ve gotta get rid of it.

So, the reason we’re adding these technological boundaries, we’re building these hedges is we wanna make it hard to make a mistake, because we love our kids. We’re gonna build the, the fence on the golden gate bridge, we’re gonna change out the toxic gas in the UK, and then we want it to be restorative. We’re not looking for an aha moment where we can point at our kid and go, gotcha. I knew you’d mess up. We’re going, son or daughter of mine, this thing’s gonna kill you. I love you, and we are going to take it away so that you can be well. Not cuz I’m mad at you. Not because you’ve disappointed me. Not because you know, any other reason that I’m hoping you learn from this, right? And you constantly think about how much you want your smart phone, and I’m never gonna give that to you. We’re not doing that. That’s not loving. We’re saying no, I want you to be whole and this thing isn’t helping you get there. In fact, it’s doing exactly the opposite. It’s killing you and we’re going to cut it off. We’re gonna gouge it out. That’s why we have these boundaries.

So, two sets of boundaries. We’re gonna build one around our network. So, if you have Wi-Fi at your house, meaning you can be on the internet and not plugged into a wall; that’s iPads, smart TVs, gaming devices, personal computers old, smart phones… anything that has the internet on it is coming through your network, you’re gonna wanna make sure that there is accountability on that and a great resource for that is Bark. They’re the second partner that we’re teaming with. And I’ll, I’ll get to that in a minute, but Bark is a wonderful resource because they look at more than just, and I won’t say just, they look at more than inappropriate content, because our children are dealing with more than inappropriate content. They don’t look at less than, they do filter for that, but Bark is an awesome resource because it helps us have a healthy boundary and it promotes conversation and digital trust trust online. When our kids go, we’ve said, yes, we trust you, make good decisions… it’s the seatbelt that goes with them, right?

So, that’s the first thing that we’re gonna do. You can also get a secondary device, something like a circle or a Gryphon router. If you need a new router, the thing that sends the internet to your home, and both of those have an amazing opportunity for device accountability. So, when someone logs into your home network, a, a strong router, like a Gryphon router is an amazing way to help ensure that everyone is following the same set of rules. So, they bring their own gaming device to their own tablet over. Now they log into your network and the Gryphon router, for example, will make sure that they can only go to the websites you approve for your kids. It follows where they’re going and how they’re using their internet time. It allows you to set time limits on it. And that’s, and your babysitter comes over. For example, you can say, Hey, we don’t watch, you know, HBO. Like you, you’re not gonna be able to access that through our network. So, sure, here’s the wifi code, but you know, we’re shutting down social media while you’re here because we just, we don’t want our kids exposed to that stuff.

Like whatever that is, Gryphon router’s a great option. Bark would then be a program. That’s the accountability piece. It’s sending you the update, whereas the, the, the wall to the internet is the actual router. Okay. So, that’s kind of how we can think about it. But that’s only on your network. So, that’s assuming that’s everything that’s being used at home I would strongly encourage you for a healthy home option to get rid of internet capable devices. So, smartphones that come home need to go away. And now we’re just using the home devices. You can use the home laptop; you can use the school computer. You can use whatever can use Wi-Fi, but we’re not having independent internet at the house because again, it’s the independent internet. It’s meant to go out into the world to keep you connected, and now your home. So, let’s, let’s keep our, our other resources available and our attention more present. But let’s talk about those devices. Your kid goes off to school. They have a smartphone smart watch, whatever it might be. Those internet capable devices that have their own cell signal, those are where Bark comes in again. You need something on that device so your child is not being the only one seeing whatever’s happening. Yes, that’s to remove the live anonymity, that when we go on the internet, sometimes it feels like we can get away with stuff and nobody knows, which is, which is not true. We’ve seen, I mean, everyone has gotten trouble differently from professional politicians to billionaires, to the kid down the street. Like there are people getting in trouble with that mindset. So, we’re gonna lovingly put a hedge up and keep a reminder that you’re not the only one who sees this. Bark is great at that.

And now I’ll dive into the, my little Bark enthusiastic aspect here. So, here here’s the deal with Bark. I love Bark because it has an easy-to-use parent app. It doesn’t hide the stuff that’s helpful for you. Apple. I’m looking at you on the iPhone. It can filter content. So, absolutely. If you say, Hey, I don’t want my kid to go on this website. It can do that. You can even go by entire categories and say, I don’t want my kid to be on social media. Boom, click the button. No social media is accessible through these devices. It does look for inappropriate, unhelpful images, certainly in videos. And so, it will notify you if that comes up and it will filter or even block content that you’ve set. But it also looks at more. Like the messages going back between kids. And it does so in a way, without intruding on your child’s trust. Again, I told you, you’ve given your kid, your smartphone. So, you need to trust them with that. What happens here is now it’s just looking for key phrases. So, if certain words pop up about self-harm or depression or substance abuse or eating disorders or anything, just bullying, like stuff, like I hate you… Those words will pop up. You’ll get a notification. You won’t be able to read the whole conversation. You’ll just get a notification. It’ll send you the concerning phrase. And now you’ll be able to approach your child as a loving parent and say, Hey, how are things going with, so, and so. Like just a simple introduction, cuz it’ll say who they were talking, they were talking to Stephanie or whatever. How are things going in in this relationship? And if they say nothing, you can try another approach. You can say, Hey, I got a notification. What what’s going on? The idea again here, Bark makes it so we don’t have to rely on self-reporting.

Shame is real. When we make mistakes, when mistakes are made against us it is very difficult to just acknowledge that and be the one to bring it up. It’s important, but we can’t rely on that a hundred percent. We want to teach our children do that. We wanna model that for them as we repent, and we want to give them network safety. Fallback plans so that we have this hedge. Again, that they know that they’re not the only one seeing it. They know they’re not alone out there on the inner webs both to encourage them to make good choices and to let them know that yeah, we trust you and we also know that you’re not the only actor out there. There are other people that can be unhelpful. So, if you wanna check it out, you can go to Bark. It’s just Bark.com and enter GOSPEL TECH 10 at checkout, and you’ll get 10% off. So, that’s it’s a cool partnership that I’m excited for. I’m hoping to be able to talk more about Bark here in the, in the coming weeks and months, because they do a great job. Lome does an awesome job for the tool tech side. And I’m excited for these partnerships and for families like yourselves to use them because they are so powerful. So, Bark is a great way to build that hedge. The Gryphon router also is awesome. Someone I’m hoping to partner with in the future because they make a great resource and Circle, right here out of the Northwest actually, is another option that I won’t go into today because I I’m, I getting too excited about it. But circle does great. It’s if you already have a router, you like. It gives you some of the Gryphon functionality, but not as robust, I would say. All right.

So, this is what we can do. I would just end with a challenge to have also the hard conversations. I’m not gonna go into a ton of detail cuz last week I did already cover this, but as we’re talking about it, we’re saying, Hey, how do I make the internet safe at home? We, we look back and we recognize, all right, we’re gonna develop a culture of healthy tech. We’re gonna set healthy boundaries for our families, and we’re gonna build a hedge around that technology because it’s preventative. We’re gonna give our children wisdom and we’re going to love them before mistakes happen. Lovingly help them see it coming. We’re gonna put up the fence, we’re gonna change the, the resources they’re using, so, they’re as safe as possible within reason. Right. And then we’re going to make restorative measures. So, what we can’t prevent, we wanna make sure we catch early, and we bring into the light as fast as possible, so it doesn’t fester. So, it right, we can cut it off and gouge it out. Not because we wanna punish not because we’re looking to the pain as the teacher, but we’re looking to the pain as a way to get to safety. Yeah, it’s gonna hurt to remove the internet. It’s gonna hurt to remove a smartphone. It’s gonna hurt to not be on social media. Those things hurt. And yet we’re talking about the health of your heart. We’re talking about the future of your soul and your impact in ministry. You can’t be having this poison of sin running in your veins, running in your heart, setting up camp in your brain and expect to, to truly flourish in Christ. We want son or daughter for you to be restored.

So, a great resource for helping you build that hedge is Bark. A great resource for modeling healthy tech is Lome. I’ll put ’em in the, in the show notes so you can check ’em out. And those hard conversations mean, make sure we talk to our kids about bullies, about strangers, and about the unsafe and unhelpful images and content that could be on the internet. Because we’re trusting our children to make decisions on their own when we send ’em out there. So, let’s make sure that we are still a part of the conversation as they go.

I, I hope that this was helpful for you. I hope that it was encouraging and that you hear in this conversation that this is something you can do. You can do it today. If you feel completely overwhelmed and you’re like, I don’t know, like my kids are already on the internet. They’re whatever, 16, 17, like, I don’t know what to do next. Let’s start just right at the very top. What’s the culture of tech look like in your house? Are you modeling it well? Can you support it? Do you have a family framework? If you don’t, gospeltech.net you can go under resources, check it out, or just go to gospeltechworkshop.com and check it out there.

So, thank you for listening. Please, if you think of someone who needs to hear this or be encouraged by it, would you share it with them? And would you join us next week as we continue this conversation about how we can love God and use tech?

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