Monday, April 28, 2014

Cyber Parenting

Cyber Parenting: Raising your kids in an online world, James & Simone Boswell

I really liked this book: it is helpful, practical and biblical. The Boswells have done parents of today’s children a great benefit. Being Australian it fits perfectly with our context, although as it deals with an online world, it is appropriate for everywhere.

The most grounding part of this book is the reminder again and again that as parents today we are facing nothing new. Although some technology, social media, gaming, etc are new for our generation, the issues they raise are as old as time. The Boswells take us back to the words of Ecclesiastes, showing that all the issues with technology today are the same issues of the heart that people have faced for thousands of years – be they wisdom, self-control, where we find our value and what we make our idols. I found this incredibly reassuring, for at times I can feel a bit panicky about parenting children in our online world. This helped me to remember that all issues are heart issues and God knows about them all.

It is divided into four parts:

1. The basics: introducing the impact of technology and some basic technological details for those that need it. Here and throughout the book they emphasise again and again it is about the heart. “Parenting is more than setting up eternal rules. Parenting is about getting to the heart of our children, training them in right living, investing in their lives and helping them to understand a biblical world view” (p30).

2. A look at the basics of parenting – how we want to teach our children about the Lord and his word, and train them in godliness and character. With this in mind, they talk about a biblical world view and then many areas of character we want to train our children in: such as honesty, integrity, patience, etiquette, contentment and self-control. While all of these are applied to the world of technology it is clear that these are characteristics we want to raise our children in, no matter whether they are online or offline. This section then moves to consider issues such as trust and responsibility, teaching wise choices and developing maturity. All of this is very helpful.

3. Then they move to address the four main areas of the online world: social networking (with an emphasis on Facebook), cyber bullying, gaming and pornography. This was full of wisdom and practical suggestions, and is essential reading for parents of children who are already online or soon to be.

4. The final section deals with the practical areas of managing your networks, security, passwords and parenting controls. These are the tips to help you set up a safe online environment. Of course, these go alongside the active role of teaching in parenting, yet are useful things to have in place in the home and on various devices.

In the end, this book is an excellent reminder that as parents we are called to parent with wisdom and grace, to be involved and aware, and to deal with issues of the heart. We should have practical boundaries and measures in place, but not rely on them to do the job of parenting for us.

I will definitely continue to refer to this one in years to come as we navigate the online world with our children.

You can see a little bit of it online here.

No comments: