As a culture we talk about technology use a lot – the good and the bad. And yes, there’s both.
We can connect with each other, learn new things and explore the world in brand new ways.
We also can become addicted to technology and social media. We can harm our personal health and mental wellbeing. We can become exposed to a whole slew of dangers.
Since our tech isn’t going anywhere, we need to develop the discernment to use it wisely.
To help us with this topic, I invited Chris McKenna to join one of my live ‘Ohana Program discussions. He is the founder of Protect Young Eyes, a platform and app that helps create safer digital spaces for today’s youth. As the leader of a large student ministry, Chris witnessed how technology entered the lives of teens and tweens and he wanted to help this generation of parents navigate the online space.
Not only has Chris been an advocate for teens through Protect Young Eyes, but in 2019 Chris testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee which led to federal and online child protection laws.
Today Chris speaks nationwide and actively serves as technical expert to some of the world’s largest tech companies.
Chris says it all starts with knowing who you are – your true, God-given identity:
- You are fearfully and wonderfully made!
- You were carefully crafted for your own unique and special purpose!
- As a follower of Christ, you are forgiven of all sin. You are not defined by your mistakes!
- You are a person who is beloved by your Heavenly Father!
“When you know who you are, everything else lines up. We use tech differently. We treat others differently. It all starts to make sense.”
When you are fully confident in who you are, you are much more likely to be able to spot the ways that the technology of this world (the internet, apps, social media, etc.) is pulling you in deeper and deeper.
Tech is intentionally designed to be addictive and to keep you coming back for more. More followers, more likes, better streaks or daily use features.
For the tech developers of this world, you are a product, not a person. To them, you are just another user among the thousands (or millions!) of others. The more you use it, the more money they make.
But being a product is NOT our identity. So let’s start developing some strategies to use our tech well.
Here are some of Chris’ basic tips for awesome girls:
- Pay attention to your feelings – if something feels like it’s not right, it probably isn’t.
- Take a social media break – see how your energy and mood improves!
- Track your time online – do you know how many hours you are on screens everyday?
- Delete toxic people – if someone doesn’t inspire you to be the best version of yourself, why are you following them?
- Sleep! Your body and brain NEED sleep for your physical and mental health. Get the phone out of your bedroom!
I love Chris’s positive, collaborative approach to technology use. The idea of parents and teens listening to each other and working together is awesome!!
When it comes to parental controls Chris says, “use controls, but use them gently”. We say often, “use parental controls”, but we should use them like a hug instead of a hammer. We don’t use controls in order to catch our daughters or sons doing something wrong – we use controls as guardrails to help them use technology correctly. That’s a really important shift in our mindset!
To learn more, check out the app that Protect Young Eyes made for parents: The Protect App.
Lots of love!