ReCAST Church

Techknowlogical Youth

Last night was the third annual Star Wars marathon at the Filcek household. For the past three years Adam has had several friends over for an all night marathon. Last night most made it into episode three before nodding off, but some made it most of the way through episode four. It has been a fun tradition and the kids love it.

But one thing has been amazing as far as observing a trend among youth. Two years ago a few of the kids brought a video game or two for the Wii. Last year most everyone brought a Nintendo DS and this year almost every child (one third grader who came was the exception) brought an iPod and asked for the WEP code for our wireless router. No Nintendo DS’s in sight!

There are three observations I see here; one merely interesting but the other two potentially alarming. First, there is just a shift toward touch screen mobile gaming. The ubiquity of handheld games has been a growing trend, and it is not just kids but most adults that regularly play mobile games. The only thing that seems a bit concerning about this trend, is the recent Play Station commercials bragging that you can now finish the game on the way to work so you don’t need be late. Really!?

The second observation is what I see as a trend toward work tools equally being a gaming format. An example of this is what I see in my own children. If I am reading a periodical on my iPad my kids are attracted like moths to a flame assuming I am playing a game. The same happens if I am responding to e-mails. What kind of impact will this have on a generation who are eventually going to be expected to actually be productive on a device that has been a toy to them? Maybe they will naturally make this transition, but something is eerie when a commercial touts their product as keeping you from being late from real world work by allowing you to take your games with you.

Lastly, is the extreme availability of the internet. For as much good as there is on the internet there is at least an equal portion of bad. And as a parent of boys in a world where the average age of exposure to porn is 11, I don’t think I am being alarmist here. Every child at my house, save one last night, asked for internet access. Many of them just wanted to play games that required the web. And I genuinely believe that the request was harmless. We granted it until we went to sleep and at that point we unplugged the router.

We are not protecting our children if we are allowing them to have unfettered access to the web. And the unfortunate reality is that many children understand the technology better than their parents. My third grader taught me a feature about my iPhone that I didn’t know and this is my second iPhone! If our children own a device, we should make it our top priority to understand what they are and are not able to access with it and understand how to utilize the security features, and restrictions.

Clearly I am not against technology, but I am very concerned about the way that it is impacting my family, my children, my church, and my community/culture. As we carefully think through these things, may the force be ever in your favor!

About Don Filcek

Don Filcek

I like mountain biking even where there are no mountains. I like to jog and call it running. I read books to learn stuff. My family is pretty much awesome. ReCAST is the church where I belong. Jesus is my Lord and Savior. I like the color yellow.

4 Responses

  1. Cindy Downing says:

    Unplugged the router!! Very wise!!!! Hopefully your router is next to your pillow when they figure out how to plug it back in! The access to the internet is frightening. Isn’t there still 3G? See, I don’t even know how all this work now. You have reminded me what it was like to have 5 teenagers (including our foreign exchange student) in our home and how much we felt we had to be ahead of them technologically to keep, as much as possible, them safe from porn on the web. We had a software program (on the computers…how to do that on handheld devices???) that ran hidden in the background that blocked, screen captured, etc. And, just like you, when they have their friends over, there is even a greater responsibility and burden. Unfortunately, it’s not even on the radar of most families. It requires a strong commitment to knowing their friends and their friends families. It makes for some tough and wisdom filled decisions and conversations with teenagers! (ps…cute combo of Stars Wars and Hunger Games)

  2. ann robertson says:

    Talk about being left in the “stardust” – hope the parents of our grandkids keep us updated on what we can do, other than play uno, swing on the tire swing and ride scooters.

  3. Shelbi Cummings says:

    I could not say AMEN enough to the content of this blog post. I would add one thing….and it is a big one. Pornography is not just a problem for boys. It is also a problem for girls, even young girls. Please, parents of girls, don’t assume exemption from the need to protect your girls from pornography, immorality in books that they read, or sexual content or inuendo in their texts, email posts and social website activity. Young age exposure to pornography can influence our children the same way as does sexual abuse. Pretty serious stuff.

  4. Lisa Cameron says:

    I agree with Shelbi, I couldn’t say AMEN! enough. With two teens in the home one girl and one boy I have to say it is a challenge but you have to know their friends and what they are doing on those computers. Another thing that is being missed in this world of technology is how much it separates us from each other. Face to face conversations and even on the phone talking to one another is becoming obsolete.

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