With the rapid advancement of technology, the world has accelerated, bringing about incredible breakthroughs in science and industry. We realize our children need to be adept at using technologies to be successful in their jobs and function in this society, while at the same time knowing they need to be able to connect with God.
If you go into a restaurant, you see people glued to the screen of their smartphones, not looking at or conversing with the person across from them!
Dr. Jeremiah Weinstock of the University of Connecticut, an expert on Internet teen gambling, believes that between 4 and 7 percent of all teenagers suffer from a gambling addiction that involves clinical depression, huge debts, disruption of relationships, and/or involvement with organized crime (“Teen Addiction to Online Gambling,” www.crchealth.com).
Social norms have shifted, changing from needing to be in the same room with friends and others to spending more time on social media, videos and music. How can we encourage them to tune in to the most important information available, the knowledge of the Creator of the universe?
The prophet Daniel recorded during the time of the end “many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4). As a parent, it is difficult to navigate the challenges of this information age. What steps can we take to teach our children to connect with our Father in heaven?
Along with keeping our children healthy and safe, our greatest desire is to give them the tools they need to have a relationship with God. Here are five ways we can help our children have a relationship with God.
1. Unplug From the World
Be diligent about the observance of God’s Sabbath. As parents we can use this time to disconnect ourselves and our children from the media of this world—instead connecting with each other, and encouraging them in their relationship with God. All of us need some “quiet brain time” to think. It is a ploy of Satan to keep our minds constantly occupied with phones, music, videos, etc.
“And you he made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1-2). The constant bombardment of media can keep us from having quiet time to ask the most important questions about life and to study in order to find the answers: Does God really exist? Why am I alive? What is my purpose on earth? Is God’s Word really truth? These questions are essential for our children to ask—and learn to answer—to have a foundation of understanding about truth and life.
The Sabbath is the perfect time for parents and youth to take the time to do family Bible studies. The Church has many resources to help guide parents (search “teen Bible study guides” on UCG.org). Help make a relationship with God a priority in their lives. Be sure they are at Sabbath services and involved in teen Bible studies and other church-oriented activities.
2. Instant Isn’t the Answer
Depending on what statistics you read, over the course of the last 10 years, the average attention span has dropped from 12 minutes to a staggeringly short five minutes.
Our minds are hit with so much information so fast, and our world is moving at such a rapid pace, it is hard to put on the brakes. Teaching our children to slow down and enjoy learning the Scriptures can not only teach them God’s way of life, but can also encourage them to learn the principle of working for the things that really matter.
Theodore Roosevelt once said: “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty . . . I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”
There are no shortcuts to achieving financial success, or to having an enduring, loving marriage relationship, a long-lasting friendship, or a meaningful relationship with God. Learning about God takes effort. Learning God’s way takes time. Patience is needed to read the Scriptures—patience with ourselves, and patience with God to give us understanding. “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4).
3. Get On the Wavelength of God’s Love
When parents show their children unconditional love through the ups and downs of life, it teaches them how God loves us through difficulties and triumphs. When we strive to practice the characteristics of God’s love found in 1 Corinthians 13, they will learn to emulate these qualities as well: “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, it is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” There is nothing that tunes us into our Father more than understanding His love, which is what He is (1 John 4:8).
God has been very merciful to us in forgiving us, teaching us, and correcting us at times. God corrects every child He loves and receives (Hebrews 12:6). Our children will make mistakes, and we lovingly set them back on the right path.
4. Don’t “Google It,” Seek God’s Word for It!
King David wrote, “The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God” (Psalm 14:2). David said he knew more than the “aged” because he dwelt on God’s law (Psalm 119:99-100).
The Bible holds the answers to the most important questions of life: why God created mankind and our potential to have eternal life and to become a part of God’s family.
Direct your children to God’s Word to find principles in the Bible to help solve the problems they face. Encourage them to read the Proverbs. One or two verses in Proverbs a day can help direct their lives and give them answers in everyday situations.
5. Take a Reality Check, Step Into God’s Creation and Out of the Digital World
Sometimes we are mesmerized by the wonders of technology, but the Bible speaks of the glory of God expressed by His creation. David said, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1).
The apostle Paul wrote, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead [divine nature], so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
Immersion therapy in God’s creation is necessary in the world we live in. Sometimes it’s good to turn off the Wi-Fi and tune into the wildlife of God’s creation. A perfect place for our youth to see God’s wonderful creation and experience a myriad of activities apart from the sway of technology is United Youth Camps. Not only will they have the opportunity to learn how to become more like Christ, they will be able to do so without the normal influence of the world. They will be in the company of those who are seeking God and His ways.
With the “The Zone” we strive to create a place at youth camps where teens can be in a positive, safe and fun environment every day of camp. United Youth Camps along with the other points mentioned above can help keep our teens on track and “tuned in” to the Creator of the universe.
To parents of teens and teens: Welcome to this ongoing series of articles written with you in mind. These “hot topic” articles will specifically address current cultural issues and the challenges that you may be facing as a family and most importantly, how to deal successfully with them in light of the Bible.