Digital Discipleship – Modelling Self-Control

The digital discipleship paradigm is all about relationship. Just as it takes two to tango, it takes two to do discipleship. There’s the digi-disciple—the kid, and there’s the discipler—the parent.

It’s the parent’s example that matters. Not their expertise. Not their techno-savvy. Not the hordes of followers they’ve amassed on Instagram. Not even their legendary gaming prowess.

We’re training our kids to conduct themselves responsibly in the digital sphere. We do this by  demonstrating self-control in the way we interact with devices. Modelling the desired cyber-behaviours is one of the most important elements of effective digi-discipleship.

Walking the Walk, Not just Talking the Talk

Remember, a disciple is someone who is becoming a disciplined follower via the conduit of a mutually respectful relationship. A disciple is learning to exercise self-control, restraint and wisdom. A digi-disciple is practising and learning moderation with online activities and media consumption.

How do they learn the all-important characteristic of self-control? By following their leader’s example.

Modelling Digital Self-Control

The parents’ primary job in digi-discipleship is to set a good example. Parents show their kids what self-control with digital technology looks like. They demonstrate this restraint and discipline in the simple, every-day choices they make.

  • With Clear Limits
    • Consistently enforcing the rules
    • Abiding by set times for gaming and entertainment
    • Having a healthy balance of physical and social activities (compared to digital activities)
    • Actively monitoring their kids’ use
  • With Cyber-Safety 
    • Making healthy, value-based choices about the content they view (ratings for language, violence, sex, substance use, etc.)
    • Keeping filters and software up-to-date
    • Being au fait with the apps and sites their kids use
  • With  Digital Etiquette and Appropriate Online Behaviour
    • Not answering the cell phone during meal times
    • Texting only at appropriate times (not in conversations, at meetings, during church, at the table, etc.)
    • Giving full attention to the person they are talking to (not pretending to listen when in reality they are engaging with media)

Digital Self-control is “caught” as much as it’s taught.

Kids learn what they see over and over again. A parent who puts his phone contacts first and family second is sending a powerful (and sad) message to his kids. So is the parent who ignores her sleep needs to game or shop or post on FaceBook late into the night.

Technology’s Master or Slave?

Technology is a potent force in our children’s lives—a force for good or a force for ill. Parents, let’s step up and be inspirational models of self-control. Let’s show our children how to engage healthily and safely with technology. Let’s ensure our kids see people who are masters over media and devices rather than slaves to them.

Young eyes are watching what we do.

Digital discipleship starts with parents’ example.