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Teens and Tech: Have you done your homework?

Teens and Tech: Have you done your homework?

Last night I stole all of the technological devices in the house.

My parents are traveling for a few days and I’m the adult daughter visiting home and playing “mom” for my three younger siblings. They’re all teenagers. School, basketball game, forensic practice, church, dinner, laundry, grocery store, “clean your room”, homework help, basketball game again. I have a whole new appreciation for how much time it takes to just be “mom” (or “dad”… I have no desire to start a gender-role debate).

So why did I take technology from teenagers? Because I’m scared.

I’m scared of the immense potential of the computers that we all carry around in our back pockets.

Have you done the research?

According to Pew Research Center, 92% of teens report going online daily — including 24% who say they go online “almost constantly.”

Almost constantly…

Have you noticed the new phone data and cable commercials lately, that subtly—or blatantly—encourage that we use data “everywhere” and “almost constantly”.

Do you know what teens are doing on their phones?

More stats from the Pew Research Center:

  • 61% of parents say they have ever checked which websites their teen visits.
  • 56% have ever friended or followed their teen on Facebook, Twitter or some other social media platform.
  • 48% have ever looked through their teen’s phone call records or text messages.
  • 43% know the password to their teen’s cellphone
  • 35% know the password to at least one of their teen’s social media accounts.

At an offhand glance, these stats don’t look so bad to me. Approximately half of parents seem to be checking in on their kids in one form or another… But what about the other half? What about the half that isn’t getting checked up on?

You know what’s out there on the internet. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Kik, Whatsapp, Youtube, and dare I say it… porn. Yup, I went there. Porn.

Do you realize that “porn sites receive more regular traffic than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined each month”? That is just completely and totally insane to me. That means that all the hours we spend binge watching Netflix (let’s be real, it’s a lot) plus the time I spend searching for that perfect birthday gift for my sister two days before her birthday (thank you Amazon Prime) plus all of the time that Trump spends tweeting equals less than the amount of time spent on porn. If that blows your mind, check out Lots of great research and resources there.

So I probably sound like a technology hater. I’m not. I love my Macbook Air with its Starry Night cover, I use my iPad to stream Netflix while I work out, and I’m the first to pull out my phone to ask Google for the actor’s name that I can’t remember, as if my life depended on it.

I’m not asking you to throw away technology.

I’m asking you to be aware. The internet is a lot of responsibility in the hands of a sinful human being, let alone a sinful human being whose rational thought (frontal lobe) isn’t fully developed.

Know what’s out there. Talk with your kids about it. Equip them with tools to be responsible. Check up on them. Know your kids’ passwords. Check their browsing history. Know how they can delete their browsing history. Know about the app that looks like a calculator, but is actually hiding the photos they don’t want you to see.

Maybe you don’t have kids? Hey, I don’t either! Start the conversation. Because I bet I’m not the only one that has teenagers in my family. I bet I’m not the only one that’s scared.


Check out this presentation for more research on teens and technology. I especially like how it addresses the “Yin and Yang” or the good and bad that comes with this new responsibility.

This article provides facts behind common “myths” and gives awesome tips for how to approach technology as a parent.

This post reflects the views of the author, and is intended to start a conversation. Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Or, if you’d like to hear some overall thoughts on digital technology from Christians at THRED, you can find those over here.

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Molly tends to get caught up in the moment. Some of her favorite moments involve snuggling with her 3-legged cat, talking about the deep things with real people (as opposed to fake people), reading young adult fiction and drinking coffee that tastes like earth.

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