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RESOURCE: Monitoring kids’ technology

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Her son’s innocent game of online checkers unexpectedly propelled author and speaker Vicki Courtney into cyberspace several years ago.

With her newest book, “Logged On and Tuned Out,” Courtney hopes to help other parents avoid the momentary panic she felt upon learning that the Internet allowed her teenage son to interact with a faceless opponent thousands of miles away during that online checkers game.

Courtney’s book offers parents a crash course on the trends and goings-on within the technology-savvy culture of today’s teens, drawing from what she has learned of the constantly changing forms of technology that serve as the main methods of communication for teens.

Ignoring that reality means “just pushing [teenagers] out in the world and saying, ‘OK, it’s a virtual free-for-all. Let the culture mold you and set the rules,'” Courtney said in an interview with the Inside LifeWay podcast of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“It was really a result of being in the trenches, tackling issues related to virtue, that I began to see that we would be remiss not to cover technology and the influence it’s having on this next generation,” said Courtney, whose speaking engagements include “You and Your Girl” conferences as part of the Virtuous Reality ministry she leads.

Promoting their children’s technology-centered safety doesn’t require parents to totally master all the intricate details of that technology, Courtney noted.

“I’m hearing a real desperation among parents that they desire … to know what’s going on, to monitor what their kids are doing, to set boundaries,” Courtney said. “But quite frankly, they don’t even know where to begin because the task is so big.”

She exhorted parents “to jump in, get their feet wet and really just dismiss those feelings of inadequacy that postpone the inevitable. I tell parents [to] get past the fear factor, that feeling of, ‘Well, I’m never going to catch up so why even bother.'”

Courtney added that while parents may fail to grasp the intricacies of the technology their children use, many teens fail to fully understand the potentially lasting impact of their words and actions via technology’s newest channels.

She voiced concern over children’s willingness to share too much personal information. “They don’t see it as a problem,” she said, adding that Logged On and Tuned Out offers parents specific examples of how sharing excessive personal information can produce long-lasting consequences.

“If I don’t step in and start setting some ground rules and figuring out what’s going on out there in this World Wide Web of technology, and even with cell phones and such, then my kids will be molded with the culture’s influence,” Courtney said.

Logged On and Tuned Out is published by the B&H Publishing Group of LifeWay Christian Resources.
Brooklyn Noel is a media relations specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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