Technology Expectations and Limits

Digital discipleship is a fresh paradigm for parents who are striving to raise disciplined users of technology. An anything-goes approach to training children is likely to lead to young people with high levels of technological ability and low levels of self-monitoring skills. Digital discipleship intentionally addresses both through the setting of technology expectations and limits. Digital Discipleship Digital discipleship includes modelling desired behaviours, but it also includes defining technology expectations and limits, the topic of today’s post.

High Expectations Around Tech Use

Aim high, people! Most children will rise towards explicit expectations. Define what healthy, disciplined media use looks like.

  • The ability to self-monitor
  • The self-control to stop and change activities without dramas
  • The wisdom to recognise and avoid unwholesome, inappropriate content
  • The desire for life balance

To get what you EXPECT, you must INSPECT!

It’s not enough to define expectations. They must be enforced, and this is the point where most parents’ efforts (the author’s included) crumble. In cyber-parenting, vigilance is a must. Parental radar must be switched on and heeded. Follow-through is essential. Scheduled checks of devices and browser histories have to happen. Pick a significant day. Using school term breaks or the first day of the month can be helpful. Link it to another scheduled activity, like the day you pay a certain bill. Put it on your calendar–digital or analogue or both! Spot checks of devices at random times must happen too. Being able to trust your kids is truly wonderful. But kids–even squeaky clean, good-as-the-day-is-long kids–are human too. Adults of the species need random checks to make sure we consistently follow the rules. Nobody likes speed cameras and police radar, but everyone knows they are effective at helping drivers obey the limits. To reiterate: INSPECT your kids’ devices. Inspection makes sure expectations happen. And if they mess up, you’ll know about it early. You can help them redirect and improve. Not inspecting loses a great discipleship opportunity.

Limits on Tech Use

Expectations set a positive goal. Limits, on the other hand, help prevent a negative outcome. Just as the 40 KM speed limit in school zones reduces the risk of accidents, sensible limits with technology avert unhealthy habits.

Post your family’s technology use limits around the house–on the frig, in the kitchen “command centre,” in the study. If adult drivers require signage to remind them of speed limits, how much more do teens and kids need help remembering tech limits. Talk about the limits at dinner. Remind your kids at the beginning of the school holidays–every day if necessary. “Remember guys, you get 45 minutes max on Xbox. Any fighting over it, and everything is shut down for the day.”

Endless Monitoring for a Reason

Yes, digital discipleship can be tedious. Yes, limiting and saying no again and again is hard and boring and frustrating. But self-discipline doesn’t fall out of the sky, and you can’t give your kids a booster shot in self-control. They won’t “grow into it”  any more than they will grow out of bad tech habits.

Discipline is born from consistent routines. Every time your kids bump against a limit that doesn’t cave under them, self-control is being engineered in them. This is how they learn to self-regulate.

Remember–the goal is to train up disciplined users of technology. Knowing this helps makes the day-in, day-out monitoring of technology expectations and limits purposeful.

Over to You

What are the hallmarks of disciplined technology use? How will you articulate the concept to your kids? Do you have some digital discipleship tips? Leave a comment!

Image Credit: Which Button Dispenses the Cookies? by Sal, Creative Commons license