Balancing Family Life in the Information Age

It is really shocking how enamored and mesmerized people in our society have become with information and Web sites. It’s like they can’t get enough of it. For many people the Internet has become such an all-consuming, fanatical craze. People will ask me in surprise, “You mean you’re not on the Internet yet? What’s the matter with you? You’re behind the times. Your family will suffer for it.” Some of these surprised people are home schoolers.

Perhaps, but I don’t think so. I’m convinced the Internet can become the ‘90’s equivalent of television in time consumption and mental absorption.  Some spend so many hours on the Net each day that they are becoming informationally obese. Most people simply cannot process that much information; neither do they need to. It is a known fact that a usual weekday edition of The New York Times contains more information than the average person would have come across in his entire lifetime back in 17th century England. The fast lane on the information superhighway has not only become addictive, it is robbing families of togetherness. All this technophilia and infomania should move us to see red flags. Good information itself is not bad, but an obsessive craving for it is certainly not good, not to mention the time it takes away from God and family.

It is my understanding that [some elected federal officials] would like the Internet to be in every school in the country by the year 2000. No one seems to be saying “slow down and consider this carefully.” The children of the world today are growing up on Websites, rock music, and television, and the results are self-evident. When these things are used as substitutes for quality family life and time with God, which they often are, the results can be tragic. The shootings in Jonesboro, Arkansas, revealed the danger of poorly trained and supervised children in the modern age.

This is not to say that the Internet does not offer useful services. It does! And there can even be a place for it in the proper environment and home. Nevertheless, parents need to acknowledge two things before inviting the Internet into their home and letting their children play in the new cyber-neighborhood. This is especially true of homes with small children.

First, realize that it is a dangerous place for unsupervised children.  While blocking programs help with the screening process (e.g., Cyber Patrol, CYBERsitter, Internet Filter, Net Nanny, Parental Guidance, etc), they lack the safeguards and oversight mechanisms that a morally protective, Christian parent can give. Left unsupervised, children face a potential danger of inadvertent attachment to pornography. This is true not only for children, but also for adults. The best and most secure Internet server I know of is called Character Link (888-330-8678). It offers two levels of security: the family level, which is safe for an 8-year-old, and an expanded level.

Second, the Internet, like television, has an addictive nature about it.  We must be careful to avoid the tendency to spend hours on end captivated by information that serves neither God nor your family. Recognize that surfing the Internet can enamor and captivate the mind, draining precious time away from that which is truly productive.

The good that is obtained from the Internet must be weighed by some of its inherent negatives. My best advice on the subject is this: Before turning on the computer (or the television for that matter), parents should ask themselves, “Have I spent time in prayer or the Word of God first? Have I spent meaningful time with my children and my spouse? Who or what is my priority? Will I be viewing something that pleases God? Could I be using my time more wisely?” These questions, I think, will give the home schooler a proper frame of reference. May God give you wisdom to properly balance your family life in the Information Age.