Kids Aged between 6 and 23 fall into a generation now getting labeled Post-Millennial or Gen Z or iGen. Let me introduce you to the research on this generation, then process the implications about pastors, leaders, and parents.
iGen is a recent label given to those people or persons born between 1995 and 2012. They are also the most digitally connected and smartphone-addicted generation. iGen’ers are people who were born after the Internet was commercialized in 1995. They have no memories prior to the internet.Each person who entered (or will enter) adolescence in the age of the smartphone. As parents, people face many challenges in disciplining these teens in the digital age.
Talking about teens and screens — or “screenagers” — we need to get concrete and become a bit strict. So here are twelve practical suggestions to stir into the discussions you’re already having in your churches and homes.
Reduce social media usage for as long as possible.
Social media poses a dilemma. Social media is now where teens look for a life, But instead it’s what is costing them their lives. We must help the kids and teenagers see this paradox and help them realize that the world that they are living is not real. Social media, which is unwisely abused, will later cost them something precious.
Once you introduce a child to a smartphone, with features of texting and apps like Instagram and Snapchat, parental controls for using these apps are virtually futile. Here is one example of how this turns out. Children are exposed to sexualized or intimate conversations with strangers and nude selfies and parents may never know about it at all. Obviously, we must warn our kids of this phenomenon before anything happens to them. But there are virtually no ways for a parent to prevent a nude selfie from arriving on your child’s smartphone through a text or by the usage of apps like Snapchat, even if your child has never asked for them. These are potent and vulnerable devices. Try and resist to give your kid a smartphone. And don’t leave any of the old phones around where your kids find them.
Inside the home, take control of the wifi.
In your home to keep the kids away from their phones always keep the wifi off until needed. Many service providers and routers allow you to pause the Wifi service in a home. There is an impressive device called “The circle,” which sits beside the router at home, and gives the parents the power to cut off the wifi entirely, or to a specific device, helping the parents to filter the content that their children look at, ratings, setting time limits, and bedtimes. Instead of putting up parental controls for each device, you can control the flow of data to every device.When your kid in your home wants to use anything like the computer or ipads, they make a request and will have to explain why they need it.
Stairstep technology over the years.
The most common mistake that parents of today’s generation make is assuming that the smartphone is an isolated gadget or technology. Although It’s not. The smartphone is the most advanced of all the communications technology a child is being introduced to from birth. For a child or teenager to be given a smartphone is a sort of graduation or leveling up from several steps of technology mapped out beforehand. Once the parents have a control over the home wifi — that’s very important — then parents can begin to introduce technology that their kids can only use inside the home.
As a rule, for all ages and all devices: Keep screens out of bedrooms.
Or,keep them at the very least out for bedtime hours, like from between night 8 to morning 8. Make a set and firm rule here. No TVs, or gaming devices, tab, laptops, or phones. Put a brake on the endless social media demands. Break the gaming addictions. Help them have proper sleep patterns. Make sure all devices are kept and charged overnight in one place, but not kept in child’s room. A single charging station in the parents room is a good solution.
Have a smartphone contract.
When you provide your child with the smartphone, always have a contract of expected behaviors, curfews, and the family’s expectations that come along with the smartphone. Have your child share their phone and social media login info. And try and get familiar with the steps necessary to be taken to temporarily pause the use or deactivate the phone. Most network carriers make this easy. For parents who have made the mistake of introducing their child to a smartphone too soon, as well, it’s not too late to have in place a smartphone contract with their child.