Dec 7, 2009

kids and electronics

I recently answered a question a parent asked about technology for their kids.
Hi, I need some advice!!

My boys are really hoping for iPods this Christmas. It's really about the only thing they want. We have looked at them a few times at Walmart and asked some questions... what is the youngest age you would give an iPod to? (My boys are 11 and 9.)... what rules or guidelines do you have in your home for listening to the iPod? Has owning one affected your family life in a negative way? We may be the last family to get an MP3 . . . we just have some reservations. We will not be getting them the iPod Touch-- too breakable and too expensive. Any comments or input you have is appreciated!
Any time you give a kid the ability to create their own world that can be unmonitored (i.e. music via headphones, computer in their own room, etc) you run a great risk. You may find that they are completely responsible with it, from not losing it to the content they put on it. To the contrary, though, many kids do struggle with it not breaking or getting lost. And then there is the content issue - if you think about how easy it is for young people to get wrapped up into a song, what if it's a song that goes against the values you're trying to instill in them?

Again - a risk.

If you end up buying them such technology, be sure you can help them use it productively. For instance, iTunes will only allow one of their iPod products to be synced to one computer at a time. If you sync with another, you not only lose the playlist you loaded from the first computer, but if/when you try to sync up with that first computer it will notify you as a pop-up in that program.

No need to fear this technology - like I said, it can be productive if you and your child choose the songs together and be sure that they support the values of your home. Use this as a tool to talk about the value of discernment and how God has gifted us with the ability to "Test everything" and "Hang onto to the good." (1 Thes 5)

Other devices have similar risks. A lot of home and portable video game systems allow you to connect with the internet. If left unsupervised, kids can accidentally or intentionally end up in places they shouldn't.

Again, I would suggest that a computer never be in a place of privacy. You always want any tech you give your kids to include your continuing guidance - more than a pop-in, but active parenting.

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