Pastoral Perspectives


As a parent volunteer in my children’s school, I often get opportunities to work alongside teachers in the class as a substitute teacher. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to teach Grade 8 students because the main teacher was suddenly taken ill. The only flip-side was that I would be the main teacher this time. I had come 40 minutes earlier to orientate myself with the settings. Instructions were all given in a file and the moment the bell rang, all the students marched in. Everything looked good on paper and I proceeded with the class. I had to show them a video as part of their Social Studies. They were learning Ancient Civilisations, in particular the Jewish Diaspora.

The computer was connected and now I had to project it to the screen. Somehow it would not work. I tried everything I knew about operating a projector. It still did not work and I had to ask one of the students to help me. Fortunately, one the boys in the class happened to be a family friend’s son and so he came forward and quickly set it up. I have seen various methods of doing it but never like the one I had just seen. It seemed so easy for the boy and the class totally enjoyed the scene. The ordeal was not over.

Someone raised a hand and said the volume was not loud enough. Of course I told myself “I got this” and pressed the volume button. Nothing happened. I was very frustrated and I could sense a thousand eyes starring at me. So I asked sheepishly if there was a volume control somewhere. The class hollered “On the wall!” I looked around and it was nowhere to be seen. Again one boy marched forward, went to the corner and pressed a certain button twice. Viola! It worked. I thank God that the class was kind to me and they sat still for the entire class. The second lesson was much better.

As I came back home and reflected on my experience, it dawned upon me that the digital world is really moving very very fast. Just 2 days ago, I had to reset the settings on my phone and I did not do it properly and lost many useful information. I use the computer and my phone everyday but somehow, the dynamics of what is happening in the digital world make me sit up and think about its impact on our children. It is not just emails and messages that we are talking about. It is a world of its own out there. How are we to parent in this digital world?

Here are 3 helpful tips* that I gleaned from Tim Challies’ blog Parenting in the Digital World

1. Reject Ignorance, Embrace Education

Whenever I take MRT or buses, I observe that many parents allow their children to watch Youtube so that they do not disturb others. I can totally understand and empathise with them because we all want some peace of mind. I am guilty of that too sometimes. While many videos are innocent nursery rhymes or cartoons, word has it that someone managed to even post subtle messages to children through such shows. The message: commit suicide! Many parents were caught off-guard. It is no longer wise to reject new technology because the younger ones are embracing it. We may be perfectly content with what has always worked for us but our children are excited to try something new. Should we then leave them alone? If we do, they will leave us behind and I believe that is how they are slipping through our fingers. Of course, we will feel intimidated but if we do not understand the power of technology/internet and leave it to our children, we might be at risk of losing them to many unwanted vices.

Do: As parents, let us educate ourselves before we hand over those gadgets to our children and let us keep an eye on what is on the screen (Proverbs 22:6).

2. Reject Folly, Embrace Responsibility

My family loves the tool box and one day I found my daughter using the screw driver to open up her toy. She wanted to see how the batteries work. I had to sit down with her to monitor and guide her. Compared with many other power tools, a screw driver may seem harmless but if not monitored, it can cause harm. The internet is a powerful tool and if we are to hand it to our children, we need to guide and monitor them because it is our responsibility as a parent. We could opt for internet plans such as JuniorProtect (StarHub), My Cyber Guardian (M1) or Qustodio (Singtel) to manage our children’s mobile data, time online, block pornography, control games and set time limits etc. The book of Proverbs has many verses to remind us that young people lack wisdom and need parents to teach and guide.

Do: As parents, let us bear the responsibility of educating our children in the use of these gadgets as Scripture reminds us that ‘folly is bound up in the heart of a child’ (Proverbs 22.15).

3, Reject Fear, Embrace Familiarity

My husband and I often said that we would not let our children have gadgets until they reach a certain age. Lo and behold, we were wrong. School assignments had to be done on the computer and they had to watch this and that. What we feared came earlier but we could not bury our heads in the sand. Assignments had be submitted online so we had to embrace it and train our children along the way. While we may fear and wonder what is to become of the next generation, we need not despair because God can use them in unexpected ways. The Word of God has been written, printed, aired, telecast, shared, podcast, tweeted, instagrammed etc. All these involve technology and God can continue to use it for His glory. We can also use them to do good and for His glory. We need to get involved. In fact, Ps Kien Seng recently told us that he has set up an Instagram account so as to connect with the young people @psleeks 🙂

Do: As parents, let us not fear but get involved by training our children to use their gadgets wisely and for His glory (Proverbs 15:22).

May God help us!

Pr Loliro Sani

March 17, 2019