While speaking at a marriage and parenting retreat, the issue of how the Internet is affecting both our marriages and our children was again a source of questions and frustration. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers states that two-thirds of all divorce cases reported excessive Internet use and pornography played a significant role in their decision to end the marriage. We are losing our kids into a cyber abyss making it harder to connect, to communicate and to police.
As spouses and as parents we have got to get plugged in to this issue. If we don’t decide how we’re going to deal with the cyber impact on our families, the world will. Yes, it’s hard. It means we start with our own Internet usage and habits. Many people avoid this topic with their children, because they don’t want to feel hypocritical or make changes themselves. It is also extremely difficult, especially if you are not tech savvy, to figure it all out. The popular games, memes, social media platforms change rapidly. Once you understand one, everyone has moved on to something else. It requires learning new technology, new language, new connotations. It means sometimes you will be the bad guy. But, we don’t have a choice.
We cannot hand our children and teenagers devices that could easily be used by the enemy to attack their minds and hearts and then choose to be willfully ignorant about the destruction these devices can cause. The power and capability of the cyber world is real, alluring and dangerous.
Holding on to naïveté like it is somehow honorable is not what we have been admonished by scripture to do. “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
It is the height of arrogance to think, “This won’t affect MY marriage,” or “MY kid would NEVER do that!” Sadly, I’ve seen the crushed faces of Apostolic parents who thought they were guarding it all, but somehow the filter failed and they are muddling through the devastating consequences. It’s easy to soothe our conscience and our egos by thinking our kids are somehow “special,” “different” or “immune.” Please, know that this is a battle we must each face: as an individual, as a spouse, and as a parent.
Don’t be discouraged. Having talks about Internet and cyber security can bring you closer to your spouse and your children. Pray and talk to your kids about developing their own convictions concerning Internet time and content.