Researchers in recent years have observed that young people are spending large amounts of their time using electronic media—to a degree unprecedented in prior generations. Some estimates put young people’s daily use of electronic media in the 7–8 hour range (“Young people spend 7 hours, 38 minutes a day on TV, video games, computer,” Los Angeles Times, January 28, 2010). One survey found that 38 percent of students could not wait ten minutes without switching on some sort of electronic device.
Sadly, these devices often transmit destructive and dangerous values to their users. Consider that some of the most popular video games have titles like, “Grand Theft Auto,” “Modern Warfare,” “Mortal Kombat,” “Street Fighter” and “Resident Evil.” Some studies suggest that video games can increase aggression and reduce students’ ability to concentrate on schoolwork. And because these games are more popular with young men than young women, some blame them for the growing disparity in academic achievement between men and women.
For older people who grew up in a world where “face time” was the norm (see our article “Face Time” on page 10 of this issue), the phenomenon of “texting” can be mystifying. While texting is not unique to young people, they use it far more than adults. Market research firm Lab 42 reported, “71 percent of teens prefer texting to talking and 45 percent of teens sends at least 30 text messages a day.” Girls are more likely to text. While the average adult over 18 texts 10 times a day, and boys 14–17 text 30 times per day, girls 14–17 send 100 texts per day, according to the Lab 42 study.
Shockingly, texting sometimes turns into “sexting.” Estimates suggest that 15 percent of teens have received a sexually suggestive multimedia message showing someone nude or nearly nude. In their popular duet, “Dirty Picture,” Kesha and Taio Cruz sing “take a dirty picture for me,” as if this would be a normal part of romantic courtship. A 2010 Super Bowl advertisement showed actress Megan Fox in a bubble bath, taking a cell phone picture of herself and thinking about sending it while two men gawk. No wonder teens now think of “sexting” as normal and even “cool.”
Apart from sexual messaging, no review of the risks of contemporary media use would be complete without considering the scourge of pornography. The worldwide “Internet porn” industry has been estimated as pulling in $4.9 billion per year in profits. About 12 percent of all Web sites are pornographic, and 25 percent of all search engine requests are pornography-related. As many as 40 million Americans are regular visitors to porn sites, and their first exposure often came early—93 percent of boys and 62 percent of girls were exposed to online pornography during adolescence.
Yes, technology plays a role in doing great harm to our modern society in general, and to young people in particular. Yet there is another face to technology.
Because of modern technology, my children can speak with their grandparents on the telephone, though they live miles away. Through modern technology, many of us, through a simple Google search, can view photographs of the most beautiful locations on earth. We can view the splendor of distant galaxies and the innermost workings of the smallest cells. Like a king at court, we can summon the finest musicians in the land and listen to them perform—in stereo. And we can fly through the air, faster than any bird in the sky.
In countless ways, our world is made better by “technology.” Consider Jesus Christ’s instruction to His disciples to “Watch” world events (Luke 21:36). Through the Internet, television, printed media and radio, we are able to grasp the scope of world affairs as no other humans before us. Prophecies written in the pages of the Bible come alive for us through the tools of modern technology. And that same technology allows us to preach the Good News recorded in those pages. We can follow Christ’s instructions today in ways that the first-century apostles could not have imagined (Matthew 24:14).
Since technology can be used both for good and for evil, what should we do? We read in Scripture that “the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding” (Proverbs 2:6). So, here are some biblically based principles to help us use technology with wisdom:
Set Rules. It is parents’ responsibility to make rules. Parents are commanded to teach and train their children (Deuteronomy 6:7), which involves setting boundaries. Rules should reflect individual family values, which should reflect God’s values. Our family technology rules should include where we allow Internet access, when we allow computer access, and how much time—on the computer, the game console, or the phone (whether texting or talking)—is appropriate. For example, a family rule might be that we do not “plug in” to a headset when we are together with other family members. Another might be that Internet access is only allowed in common family areas. Another helpful rule might be that all of a child’s passwords (to social media sites, e-mail accounts, computer logins and mobile phones, etc.) be known to the parents. Children will develop a relationship of trust with parents as they demonstrate their wisdom in communicating with others, and parents will not want to “micro-manage” a responsible young person’s communication. But if your children demanded the “privacy” to walk into an unknown dark alley unattended, would you let them do so unless they had shown themselves well able to fend for themselves? Parents need to be unafraid to exercise balanced parental responsibility.
Resist Peer Pressure. This point is for parents. Adults can be pressured into adopting technology of the wrong type, and for the wrong reasons. Our own use of technology may be part of the problem. Do we really need large-screen TVs in the living room and the bedroom? Do our children really need private TVs in their bedrooms? And are we ourselves becoming so entranced by the latest smartphone or tablet, the latest cable TV plan or movie streaming service, that we pay less attention to our children than we should? Our children need our face-to-face time, and they notice our example. Consider Christ’s admonition: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven”(Matthew 5:16).
Consider Cause and Effect. “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished” (Proverbs 22:3). Our actions have consequences. Do we want video games to occupy hours of our children’s time? No! Then, is it wise to buy a game console for our children? Do we want our sons to become addicted to pornography? Of course not! Then should we set them up with a computer they can use in the privacy of their bedrooms late at night? Do we care if our daughters receive “sexting” messages? Absolutely! So we should be able to monitor their smartphone use when necessary. Parents need to remember that technology is not a “right” that our children can demand. As parents, we must recognize that oversight of our children is our responsibility, as part of our parental duty.
Technology has two faces. The inventions of man can be used for good or evil. May God give us the wisdom to choose the good and reject the evil.
As far as computer/internet technology being a gospel proclaiming tool, it may be of interest to note that contacts from every nation on earth have been verified as viewing LCG’s official websites and/or cogwriter.com with the one exception of North Korea (and because people in places like North Korea sometimes use proxy addresses, it is highly likely that nation has been reached as well as well). In 2011 alone, www.cogwriter.com (which is not an official LCG website, but the website of this author) reached at least 215 nations or territories as measured by AWstats–COGwriter gets millions of article views each year.
As far as more modern technology, notice the following from LCG’s internet department:
We have been blessed with a couple big developments of late. 1. Roku Internet tv release. The first cog to do so and currently the only Roku channel carrying the True Gospel. 2. Release to lcg membership of our TW apps for Android and Windows phone. Apple should be available in about a month. This is major. We want to give our membership a chance to review and give us feedback before we release to the world over the marketplaces….probably in 2 weeks…
We are very happy to announce Tomorrow’s World Mobile Apps! Why develop mobile apps? Because this is a huge opportunity to reach millions with the True Gospel!
According to research studies, by the end of 2011 there were 1.2 billion active mobile-broadband subscriptions worldwide! China and India are the top mobile phone subscriber markets with the USA third. We are very excited to now announce a limited release of our new Tomorrow’s World Mobile Apps for LCG membership for the Android and Windows platforms! iPhone and Blackberry coming soon! LCG membership should log in to your MyLCG account (go to www.cogl.org) to download. We know you will enjoy the apps, and we welcome your feedback over the coming few weeks before we launch these apps from their respective marketplaces to potentially millions and millions of people around the world! This is a truly revolutionary opportunity to make a huge impact and reach even more people with the true gospel of the coming Kingdom of God.
The Living Church of God, of course, has also reached millions through its television and radio broadcasts. COGwriter also has had radio reach by being interviewed about 60 times on matters related to end time prophecy. LCG has also reached at least of hundreds of thousands (and probably, millions), and COGwriter tens of thousands, through some YouTube videos.
Technology can be abused, but it is helpful in proclaiming the gospel. Children should be encouraged to use technology properly.
Some articles of possibly related interest may include:
What is the Gospel? True religion should be based upon the true gospel. What are some of the different gospels and where did they come from? Do you believe the true or a false gospel?
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God was the Emphasis of Jesus and the Early Church Did you know that? Do you even know what the gospel of the kingdom is all about?
Are You Saved? Do You Love Jesus? What is a True Christian? What is the Gospel? Evangelist Richard Ames answers those important questions.
True vs. False Conversion Are you really converted or willing to be? What is true conversion? What is false conversion? What are the dangers of false conversion? Evangelist Roderick Meredith provides information on those important questions.
Getting the Gospel Out is More than a Local Job Discusses Biblical rationale for doing an international, and not just a local, work.
How Much Did You Cost? Some have complained that the total costs spent to proclaim the gospel as a witness is too high since it does not (in their opinion) result in enough conversions. Is that how God sees it?
LCG: Pornography, Who’s Tempting Whom? This is some information about the prevalence and dangers of pornography from the Living Church of God.
CG7 on Pornography This is an article excerpt from the Church of God, 7th Day-Denver about pornography.
Abortion, the Bible, and a Woman’s Right to Choose Do you know what the Bible teaches on this? Has the Roman Catholic Church allowed abortions? What about the Living Church of God?
LCG: Homosexuals Gaining Ground “Same-sex marriage” is becoming more acceptable to many. What does the Bible teach about homosexuality?
Is American Football Evil? Is the most popular spectator sport in the USA something that Christians should watch? What do the Bible and early writings show?
Christian Soldiers How are Christians to be like soldiers? How are they to be different?
Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare? Here are current and historical perspectives on a matter which show the beliefs of the true church on military participation. Is war proper for Christians?
Should the Church Still Try to Place its Top Priority on Proclaiming the Gospel or Did Herbert W. Armstrong Change that Priority for the Work? Some say the Church should mainly feed the flock now as that is what Herbert W. Armstrong reportedly said. Is that what he said? Is that what the Bible says? What did Paul and Herbert W. Armstrong expect from evangelists?