One afternoon after school as I was watching The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin on TV, someone came to the door to tell me that our family dog had been hit by a car and that he had been carried to the service station down the street. Because my parents were working, as the oldest sibling, I needed to deal with the matter.
As I sat on the floor behind the counter trying to comfort our dying dog, I remember thinking how strange it was that I was more upset that I was missing the end of a TV show about a fictional dog than I was about this dog dying.
It was the first time I remember being aware of the powerful influence electronic media can exert on us and realized that something was not right about that.
I know that some parents were worried that their kids might be spending too much time watching TV but mine tended to let us find our own way with it, and our whole family enjoyed watching some shows together.
For much of my life, I was enthralled by TV as I got caught up in its sitcoms, variety shows, movies, news, sports and more. I’ve only recently got so tired of mindless channel surfing that I finally pulled the plug.
On balance, even though I now feel I wasted part of my life watching TV, I also believe that I benefited from much of it.
While I see some similarities between watching TV and interacting with modern electronic technology, I know there is a great deal more to consider concerning its impact on our lives. I’m deeply disturbed by its ability to manipulate people. At the same time I appreciate its power to educate, inspire and engage people in positive ways that can lead to constructive action.
I’m particularly concerned about how invasive this technology is becoming not only in our lives but those of our children. How well we are equipping our children to live with it? How can we help our children find their way and instill the faith and values in them that they need to live as healthy and responsible people?
Our feature about parenting in a digital world gives us a glimpse of how a few people of faith are trying to sort things out and to respond.
I hope that this will help you to think a bit about your own context. Please let us know about your own experiences with electronic technology and the possibilities you’ve discovered it offers for us and for our children.
For those who may feel that worship seldomstirs a sense of wonder in them, Rediscovering awe, p. 15, is well worth exploring.
Since I’ve read Alive and well, p. 9, I’ve found myself paying a great deal more attention to what I’m eating.
After reading Phones in Worship, p. 25, Bishop Jason Zinko commented, “In Cameroon everyone has the hymnal and worship resource app on their phones! They can’t ensure that print materials will be available, so they made an app instead. Worship is different, so they really only use it for song lyrics, but in Cameroon it is definitely an advantage to use their phones in worship.”
Kenn Ward, Editor