I’m surprised by how many parents just give their kids technology – without taking the opportunity to train them in responsibility, accountability, and wisdom. This is a sure way to raise a spoiled brat or a selfish, entitled college student.
There’s a better way, Mom and Dad. Your God-given task is to raise your child into a mature, wise, God-fearing adult. And along the path from childhood to adulthood, a child needs to slowly increase in responsibility and decrease in direct parental authority. In other words: in the early years you lead by direct authority; and if you do that well, in the later years you can lead by influence and wisdom rather than by direct authority. (On the flip side, if you haven’t done well leading by authority when your kids are little, you’ll have a train wreck on your hands when they’re in the teen years… but that’s another post). Technology provides a great opportunity to lead by influence and wisdom and test your child with some basic personal responsibility.
Last year my son asked for an iPad. So the family pitched in and purchased one for his birthday. Along with that birthday gift came the following contract – which, as you can see, sets some boundaries and parameters around its use and care. It’s also designed to make him laugh a little along the path to responsibility.
On this, my 14th birthday, I (Parker Thune) enter into the following agreement with my parents (Bob and Leigh Thune):
I hereby affirm that everything I have is given to me by the Providence of Almighty God; I am a steward, not an owner, of all my possessions. Furthermore, as a minor in the eyes of God and the state, I exist under the legal and spiritual guardianship of my parents. I affirm that my parents are good and wise parents who desire to teach me responsibility. By their generosity, with help from my aunts, uncles, and grandparents, I have been given an iPad on my birthday to help me grow in responsibility. By signing this contract, I affirm my love for my parents and my gratitude for their general benevolence toward me.
I acknowledge the scientific data which shows that technological devices like the iPad, when used excessively, can contribute to sloth, lethargy, loss of concentration, and general moroseness. Therefore, I commit to exercise self-control by observing reasonable limits on the use of my iPad. Should I fail to demonstrate self-control, I understand that my parents may exercise their parental responsibility to set such limits for me.
I hereby affirm that I live in a family with younger siblings who will undoubtedly be awed by my iPad and desire to use it for various purposes. I affirm that I will not be unduly protective, selfish, or exasperating to my siblings in considering their requests to borrow my iPad for their personal use. Furthermore, I give permission to Thune School for the Gifted to occasionally commandeer my iPad for educational purposes.
I affirm the reality that the Internet, like many other cultural artifacts, may be both a vehicle for great good and/or a source of great evil. By signing this contract, I affirm my commitment to stay away from internet sites, games, and apps which may contain objectionable or questionable content. Furthermore, because I am called by God not just to avoid evil but to promote good, I affirm that I will use my iPad to promote the gospel and sow seeds of biblical truth wherever and whenever I can.
Because millions of people in the world live without iPads – and are just fine without them – I hereby pledge not to become one of the whiny, obnoxious Americans who thinks I need technology in order to have a “normal life.” I promise to remember the non-essential nature of technology, and to honor the primacy and dignity of my fellow humans in my words, attitudes, and actions.
I hereby affirm that ownership of an iPad is a privilege, not a right. I acknowledge that I do not have the “right” to an iPad. I do not have the “right” to use my iPad whenever I want. My iPad may be taken away or its use suspended by my parents at any time without my consent. In the event that my iPad is taken away or its use suspended, I promise not to whine, pout, cajole, ding-dong, or sulk, but rather to accept the consequences of my actions like a man.
Signed this ___ day of February, 2013, by
Parker Thune Parental Representative
If we didn’t care about training responsibility and leadership into a child, we wouldn’t bother with these matters. We’d just hand him an iPad and tell him to run along so we could get back to reading more e-books about missional living.