A reminder of the everyday dangers of technology and some recommended preventative measures from Kay Belknap.

In response to being often accused by my adoring school community of hating technology, I recently catalogued the technological contents of our home. Gregg and I own 11 phones, 7 TVs, 5 VCRs, 2 DVDs, 2 TiVos, 2 component stereos, 2 compact stereos, and several computers with flat screen monitors.

I do not hate technology, but I am disturbed by the impact technology has upon relationships. While we are to be about the business of loving God and others, technology often interferes, infringing on necessary time and attention.

Text messaging and instant messaging are hindrances to authentic conversation. In a World Magazine article, Janie B. Cheaney wondered, “Why do people say things to each other online that they would never say face to face? Perhaps because faces communicate hurt, anger and sorrow – all difficult emotions we try to avoid.” Voiceless, faceless communication enables duplicity and o en leads to speaking without thinking.

Electronic communication also exposes our students to dangerous predators. This is a risk that should not be taken lightly. Young people have a tendency to trust and can be easily manipulated. Email is a wonderful tool to communicate with family members or close friends who know our hearts, but artificial, distant relationships can eclipse the healthy authentic relations with the people around us.

The constant availability of entertainment also undermines relationships. A friend recently observed two couples sizing down for dinner accompanied by a young girl. The group ordered their food then the child opened a laptop and began watching a movie while the adults talked. How sad! One of the best ways for children to learn is to listen to adults talk.

IPods are a problem for several reasons. One must wonder why we need to listen to music every- where we go and, worse, listen to it on our own private equipment. iPods also enable students to download any music or videos they choose, and they make the monitoring of downloaded media nearly impossible. There is no CD cover to view, no lyrics to read.

In light of these things we all know, these recommendations may help teachers and families resist the anti-relational effects of technology:

1. Forget iPods.

2. Find a regular social or physical activity that your family can do together.
3. Eat supper together—at a table with the TV off.

4. Resist the pressure to place a TV in your child’s room.
5. Block inappropriate channels on the TV. (MTV comes to mind.)
6. Purchase a DVR and give up commercials for- ever.
7. Give your child a cell phone when he or she receives a driver’s license, but not before. Monitor the bill carefully, and don’t purchase text messaging.
8. Allow the use of the internet ONLY in a room where supervision is always available.
9. Password protect and filter the internet, periodically checking every web site your child visits.
10. Turn off the phone in the car with your children. Talk, listen to a book, or listen to music you all enjoy.

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