Like many parents, we've been a bit overtaken by the internet. We brought our first computer when I was expecting Eldest Son, over nineteen years ago. That computer had no internet access and was really just a word processor. Now we use the internet for work, shopping, education, listening to services and leisure. The children know more about the internet than I do. This isn't necessarily a bad thing but can mean that they may not be as protected as we would like. Yes, we've used filters from the completely unusable (so strict that we couldn't buy normal children's clothes on line) to more generic varieties but none of these can deal with the insidious worldliness of much of what comes in.
We've also encountered attitudes that anything to do with the internet must be wrong. One of our children was told that he shouldn't read his Bible on his phone. Why should this be worse than a print version? Maybe a scroll would be best.
So I was delighted to have the opportunity to review You, your family and the internet: what every Christian in the digital age should know by David Clark published by Day One publications.
Mr Clark is an IT professional and has approached the topic of the internet on the basis that Biblical principles apply to this as much as to anything else. In doing this, he has been able to avoid mindless blanket condemnation but has been very challenging as to motives.
The book starts with a simple explanation of the internet and its history along with the encouraging statement that
Being effective parents has little to do with understanding technology. The Bible speaks of bringing up our children “in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). But how can we do this if we do not communicate and spend time with them? We must avoid the danger of only laying down rules and exasperating our children.
Chapters examine communication, Facebook and social media, pornography, advertising, internet games, gambling and news via the internet. Areas where the internet can be used positively or negatively are examined along with safeguards whereas the dangers of pornography and gambling noted without flinching.
The last couple of chapters cover principles for internet use. These are practical and include ways to be aware of the dangers of the internet both to ourselves and our children and also ways in which the internet can be used to the benefit of God's kingdom. Mr Clark gives the illustration of using e-mail, Skype and Facebook to make sure that missionaries and their families feel less isolated and makes the case for the internet being used as a tool in God's Kingdom in the way that Paul used Roman roads.
This is an important book to read for all Christian parents. You may find there is much to challenge you personally.
Appropriately the book has a website with a trailer from the author. Even better the e-book is available free until the end of the year from 10ofthose.com. Please note that I haven't ordered books from this site myself. Alternatively, it is available as a paperback from Day One, Amazon or Christian bookshops. This is the sort of book what you might well want to have lying around to encourage discussion so a paperback might be advantageous.
I was given You, your family and the internet as an e-book for review purposes. All views are my own.