If there is a single image that defines this generation it is of a teenager with earplugs in his ears strutting down the street to his favorite music while intently texting his friends about the latest Facebook status of a mutual friend. And the friend may be someone he has never actually met IRL (in real life), but a virtual friend--that is a friend of another virtual friend. Eventually, he strolls in the door without hearing the greeting of his mom and plops down on a laptop to continue the chat.
The teen is in a virtual world and most parents are searching for what to do.
If you are like any parent, your first temptation is to grab his phone and drop it from the Golden Gate Bridge (after the teen has been detached, of course) and then praying afterward that your little darling doesn't jump in to retrieve it.
But taking away the technology or restricting its use rarely works. Why?
Because technology does not create character; it exposes it and builds upon it.
The problem is not the cell phone or Facebook; it's the condition of his heart. A foolish heart will act foolishly but a wise heart will act wisely.
"Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child" Scripture says. So while your teen has the body of an adult, he may still carry within his heart some of the foolish tendencies of a child. That foolishness is often exposed when we place an adult device like a cell phone into his hands. As parents, we're surprised and increasingly frustrated because our child never acted this way until he got the phone. Don't be misled. He didn't actfoolishly because he didn't have the opportunity NOT because he didn't have foolish notions. But introduce an opportunity and the foolish notions have an outlet and the heart is exposed.
"When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things" 1 Corinthians 13:11(NASB version)
Our desire as parents is to train our children to become self-regulating adults and that includes the responsible use of phones, computers, and whatever device is dreamed up next. But how?
This space doesn't permit a lengthy answer to that question, but I'll submit to you one idea--model the responsible use of technology in your home. Your teen may be just as frustrated with your "checking out" when they need you to be present for them. How many times since you sat at your computer today has one of your children asked you a question only to hear the "in a minute" for the fifteen thousandth time?
So before you throw your child's cell phone off the bridge; ask yourself, would your child like to do the same thing to your computer?
If you would like your child to be present for you, then become a parent who is present for your child.