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Biblical guidelines for the use of cell phones and other devices

It is important to understand that having a personal electronic device such as a cell phone, tablet, computer, tv, ipod, mp3 player, video games… ect.. is a privilege. They are not needed to function in school, church or any other activity. Used properly these electronic devices can be a great asset to a healthy quality of life by offering a greater capacity to learn and grow; however used incorrectly they can damage a testimony, provoke sin and diminish a walk with God. This lesson will deal with the Biblical nature of these electronic devices; it is intended to help parents when making decisions about the use of devices for their children, but the concept is certainly valid for mom and dad too.

2 Corinthians 2:11  Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

The Hidden things

2 Corinthians 4:2  But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

One feature of electronic devices is that they are personal in nature. It is difficult for others to see or hear what or how they are being used, therefore these hidden things can become a problem. There is a sense of liberty that one has when they have access to see and hear things that cannot be viewed or judged by others.

Psalms 101:3  I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.
With this liberty comes self control. God’s people must make a point to set no wicked thing before your eyes. Remember the device in itself is not wicked, but what is done with it can easily become wicked.

Self Examination

Part of growing up is the principle of self examination.

Psalms 26:2  Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart.

2 Corinthians 13:5  Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

1 Corinthians 11:31  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

This matter of self examination must be a constant event weighing every activity based on the name of Jesus Christ. If you don’t think Jesus Christ would be delighted in what you do see or say on an electronic device… then why are you doing it?

Colossians 3:17  And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Idleness

When you are on Facebook, surfing the net, texting or just listening to music it can cause a sense of idleness where you are not being productive or worse, counter productive to the things that need done.

Proverbs 19:15  Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.

1 Timothy 5:13  And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.

 

Facebook and social media

Facebook, twitter and other forms of social media can be a neat way to express feelings and thoughts on a particular topic, stay in touch with friends far away and get insight on current events… but beware.

Proverbs 22:24  Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:

Social Media can also be a place where sin can run unchecked. From a disconnected mindset of privacy the internet can be used to speak evil things, to show evil things and make friendships that can lead to a life filled with sin.  A Christian must be on guard and regulate those things that you participate in. If you continually view angry posts it can motivate you to be the same way. Things can be said and feelings can be hurt by posting something you think is humorous but because it was in poor taste… offends someone; we must remember our testimony when participating in these social media areas. If you have people on your friends list that is posting inappropriate pictures, comments or posts to include nudity, perversion and profanity it is YOUR responsibility to unlike and not participate with those people. It is clear that a Christian is to come apart and be separate; we must be self regulating in these matters.

1 Peter 2:12  Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

These same guidelines go along with texting, skype or any other form of communication whereby you have influence. Keep this rule in mind:

Ephesians 4:29  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

We must treat social media in the manner that we would never post something about anyone we wouldn’t be willing to say in front of them.

Matthew 12:36  But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

How to proceed.

Guidelines need to be in place to help train a child in the way they should go. These guidelines will promote self examination and the responsible use of electronic devices.

Nothing hidden

In order to help guide a child to a mature sense of responsibility the child should not be allowed to delete anything from electronic devices. This will include, but are not limited to: Texts, Messages, Posts, Pictures, likes, shares, tweets, viewing history, browsing history and search history. This basically will allow a parent/ guardian to review the use of the electronic devices to make sure they are being used properly. Naturally you want to work your way to a point that the child is self regulating (self examining/ self judging) themselves with the mindset of the scripture laid out previously.

Time limits

Time limits and time restrictions should be placed to help make sure that a healthy balance of time is being structured. Idleness, as they say, is the devil’s workshop… so making sure that the devices are not filling space where structured study, chores or relevant playtime should be utilized.

“The double standard” – One method is if the child spends one hour on an electronic device or devices he should give the Lord two hours. Time in prayer and Bible reading will naturally help bring a sense of balance and priorities in the child’s life.

"Centralized charging" - One popular way to keep children from abusing electronic device privileges is to not allow the electronic devices in their room overnight. Find a central location such as the parents bedroom, kitchen or living room where the child will not be tempted to stay up all night using the device(s).

"Read twice, message once" – An embarrassing message can often become conversation at school, church or even around the dinner table. Helping your child avoid this situation is to teach the “read twice, message once” rule. Teach them the habit of making sure that the message is spelled properly, sent to the correct person and most importantly… needs to be said. Oft times a child can get caught up in the moment and before they know it, they have send a hurtful or disrespectable message. Messages like this in the social media and texting realm cannot be deleted, so help them understand the importance of this rule.

"The Grandma rule" – Have children think about this when sending out a text, tweet, post or message: “Would I say this to Grandma?”

When should I get my child a electronic device?

This is different for each family. It naturally will depend on the maturity of both the parent and the child. Note: If the parent is not going to properly monitor the use of the different electronic devices you are setting the child up for a fall. It is the parents responsibility to make sure the child knows the proper use of different devices.

Abuse

Because electronic devices can be used for good or bad it is important to take seriously instances where the guidelines of responsible device use are not observed. Remember electronic devices are a privilege, not a need or requirement. It is for this reason I recommend the complete removal of all devices from a child that abuses the guidelines set forth by the parent. After a preset period has passed then the child should be re-taught the Biblical principles outlines in the paragraphs above.