How soon do you give a kid a mobile phone?

Do you give a kid a phone at all?

What are you serious? Of course, our kids need phone! Are you saying you might prevent my child from her basic human right to a phone! Why should she be any different to all the other smart phone happy kids?!

With upgrading to a new phone occurring every couple of years, there’s loads of working but unwanted phones lying around…so what’s the harm giving a kid a hand-me down?

Australians are apparently early adopters of new technology. It’s unsurprising that our society is now saturated with mobile phones.

You might think that I’m mentally unwell or off with the fairies, but since when does a child need a mobile phone?

Parents today all went to school with no phone and it wasn’t an issue. If you really needed to call someone you went to a pay phone. But the days that was necessary were once in a 100. We just got on with life and put up with a bit of inconvenience.

Were mobile phones at school inevitable?

 Now you might think, Stephen, just get over it…phones are here to stay and our kids need to know how to use them…it’s no big deal. In other words, the use of mobile phones by our kids is inevitable, it’s a tech tsunami no parent can fight.

Only that’s not true. There is nothing we can’t fight. Parents have the power to shape their kid’s behavior and influence society dramatically.

What impact do you think mobile phones are having on our kid’s education and social development?

As someone who stills steps into schools to do the odd bit of teaching, I can see the social impact of mobiles on our kids.

Instead of developing good social skills in the playground, their heads are bowed in worship of their little illuminated screens.

I’m not alone as a teacher who is a little frustrated with the overwhelming presence of these little devices in all the little Johnnies hands.

We think as parents we’re keeping them safe by giving them a phone. We like the security it brings for us to know we can get in touch whenever we need or even monitor their movements using some GPS app. We even kid ourselves that this device has educational value.

Okay, I hear you say ‘but what’s so bad about my kid having a phone? What if little Johnnie is walking home from school and an axe wielding psycho starts chasing him down the road?

Well, little johnnie will undoubtedly use his mobile phone to catch the event, whack it up on social well before calling you or the police.

What’s you’re child really doing at school?

When we give our kids one of these internet enabled devices we are actively consenting to erosion of their education and social development.

While you’re at work all day…

busy typing,

busy meeting,

busy phoning,

busy organizing,

busy eating…

They’re at school…

busy on YouTube

busy playing games

busy eating and sitting on their buts sending people pictures off their buts

Busy on social media comparing pictures of their buts

Busy texting

And at the end of the day, when you’re still working at the office, they’re at home enjoying some teacher interruption free screen time. After all they’ve been working hard at school, who’s gonna deny them their basic right to chill out, right?

When you ask kids how many hours they spend on screens…it is staggering. Go on…do your own home assessment. But if you’re kids have internet capable phones then you better add in a few hours to all the crapola they look at throughout their lesson times. Yes, throughout the lesson, not just the playground.

‘oh, miss I was just researching…’

‘oh, sir we both need to share an earphone to research music for our music assign…’

‘we’re doing some photos for our folio…’

‘we’ll turn it off after this video…it’s kind of relevant anyway’

‘My mum is texting me sir, you don’t have authority over my mum!’

‘this is for work, I have to answer my roster’

‘we’re listening to music as it keeps us focused’ (while the clip on you tube plays at the same time!).

I really don’t know how we managed to stay focused when I was at school without earbuds and YouTube.

It’s an addiction

Our kids are so distracted by all the social media, videos, games, texts that the stuff they’re supposed to be learning is, well…just soooo boring.

Phone addiction, that’s what it is.

It becomes a habit, like cigarettes and nicotine.

Kids didn’t need phones.

Kid’s don’t need phones at school.

It wasn’t inevitable.

It still can change. If parents want it to change.

Some schools have rightly taken charge and insisted that all phones remain in the kids bags the moment they enter school until they leave the school property.

Some schools insist that at every class the phones are ‘pouched’ on a wall like a preschool lunchbox routine.

Some schools warn and confiscate…10 or 15 times throughout a lesson!

Don’t blame the schools or the teachers.

What were parents thinking when we allowed this to happen?

We caved in with the rest of the world and made sure all our kids had a phone.

Don’t want little johnnie to be left out or miss out. Everyone must be equal.

Dumb.

We think its unstoppable, we think it’s inevitable, we think kids have a right to a phone and if they don’t they won’t be equal with their peers and get left behind.

Parents have the power but we squandered it.

We acquiesced and opened the floodgates to distraction.

What about same sex marriage?

Is it inevitable that we acquiesce and trade our exclusive rights to the marriage ‘trademark’ to include everyone and anyone who wants it?

Isn’t the legalization of same sex marriage inevitable?

Sometimes I think we feel that the legalization of gay marriage is inevitable, bit like kids and mobile phones.

Depending on where you live in Sydney, what paper you read, what channels you watch…you could think that Australia will inevitably legalise gay marriage.

But it’s not inevitable and it’s not unstoppable. We don’t have to do what other countries have done.

The fact that supporters of gay marriage in Australia are so against the plebiscite shows that the issue in Australia is far from inevitable. They are very nervous the result will be ‘no’.

What’s your church doing to help you form an opinion that is good for society?

If parents have the power to alter the course of society, what should they be saying, ‘Yes’ or ‘No’?

When I speak with people in my church I find a fair bit of confusion. Maybe you do too?

People often feel the right thing to do is to say ‘no’ because they believe gay marriage is against God’s order but aren’t sure whether Christians should have a say or influence on society. Instead perhaps we should just keep mum and apply our little truth to our little society under the irrelevant steeple on the hill?

Other Christians blindly accept the argument from the ‘yes’ campaign that if something is a human right, then who are we to argue with it? Doesn’t the law uphold human rights? Doesn’t the rule of law, rule us out?

Perhaps your church thinks the matter is a personal decision or private matter, a bit like politics where they shouldn’t get involved. Leave it to you, let’s get back to the Bible. So, we end up with this cloistered navel gaze into God’s word while the real world we live in orbits a hundred miles away and in between is the grey fuzzy mush of hesitancy and confusion.

As you can see…as a fellow pew sitter, I don’t feel particularly well guided here.

The thing is, the flock need pastoring.

Hence at the risk of being drawn into ‘storyline number 22 that sells newspapers in 2017’ here goes:

Shouldn’t Christians keep their morals to themselves?

A Christian person may think gay marriage is wrong but vote for it to be legalized to permit non -Christian people to do whatever they want. After all they’re not Christian so why foister a Christian view upon them?

But that would be like rocking up to William Wilberforce back in the day and saying, ‘dude, leave the slavery thing alone! Lots of people are happy as with it and who are we as Christians to sway what society wants?’

If we believe the good life comes from seeing, understanding and following God’s pattern then what is good for us is also good for society.

Now opponents may sling mud at us and shout us down saying ‘keep church and state separate’ or worse, ‘keep your gay hate out of the debate!’ Neither of which is accurate or fair. But we don’t have to rely on just the Bible here to speak up.

If people are so incensed about Christians having a say let us remind them that the same Declaration of Human Rights, upon which they demand ‘equality’ (1) and ‘the right to marry’ (16) also states we all are entitled to:

-freedom of religion (18)

-freedom of opinion (19)

-right to participate in Government (21)

-right to participate in the cultural life of society (27)

Of-course we should speak up. It’s our Christian duty and our right.

All people, including Christians, should not be marginalized, persecuted or discriminated against in this debate. Sadly, we are seeing exactly this happen to those who wish to say ‘no’. Kind of ironic don’t you think, that those waving the big ‘equality’ declaration (1) in support of SSM, haven’t bothered to read the rest.

Silence isn’t love

It’s not only that we have a right to have a say, hold an opinion and influence government. God gives us speech for the good of the world. The gospel may be ‘Jesus died for your sins’, but the Word that became flesh doesn’t stop there. If Jesus is truly raised then all the ‘statutes’ upon which God founded the world matter. They are affirmed by God in Jesus, risen body. It is only loving for us to point society to those ‘statutes’, even if they hate us for it. Marriage matters. God made it a certain way, gave it purpose and boundaries. If we care about Australian society and can see that it is about to ignore the purpose of marriage, then we need to speak up.

You’re so homophobic!

Having a different view is not homophobic or bigoted. Instead it should be valued and protected under the same Declaration of Human Rights. I will gladly walk in a march with gay people if it’s simply about recognizing and affirming their equal value as human beings. Plus, I’m just as much a sinner; Whatever commands I haven’t broken, I’ve probably wanted to; in the words of Jesus, ‘who of you will cast the first stone?’ But I won’t march to celebrate their lifestyle or support a quest for a logo they have no right to demand.

Pillars of the quest for same sex marriage: Human rights, Fairness and the redefinition of ‘marriage’.

Let’s focus on one major pillar of the same sex marriage argument: human rights and ‘the rule of law’.

I note that recently the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and the NSW Bar Association (SMH, August 19-20, 2017, p2) have joined forces to back Same Sex Marriage Laws.

Human rights vs Natural right

Supporters of gay marriage like to get all excited about ‘rights’. But what is the foundation for someone to have any rights?

Human rights were posited by the United Nations by agreement of signatory countries after WWII to provide an international framework against future genocide. Hitler had decided Aryans were the master race and Jews a sub human race. Hence the value of the Declaration should not be underestimated.

However, the declaration of human rights is limited in value as it is ultimately headless and without any control point or datum. Human right is a recent development (1948) that attempts to mimic something much earlier, natural right.

How did the world populate the earth? What is the basic building block off societies across the globe? Where does the next generation come from? How will the next generation shape the good of the planet? These questions have one simple answer: the family, marriage. The bedrock of society depends on this relationship that is beautifully expressed in Genesis 2, namely ‘a man shall leave his mother and father and become united to his wife, procreate and multiply’.

Natural right is scientifically evident from the world we live in. You don’t need to open or own a Bible. Humans exists because a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife and together they have kids and populate the earth. It’s natural, it’s purposeful. It works and has worked forever. If you’re concerned about the law as lawyers are want to do, then any posited human right, should not be allowed to contravene pre-existing natural right. Where it to do so, as in the case with legalizing gay marriage, the law would be going against self-evident, scientifically supported, reality.

In this case, I want to suggest that it is possible, that the law doth err, sir.

Natural right trumps human right.

What did we do with our kids and mobile phones?

Some of them now share a phone.

Ahh, we finally caved in? Hypocrites, I hear you say!

The phone is not internet enabled. The plan only covers text and calls. If they exceed the call fee, they pay for it out of their pocket money. Needless to say, they’re pretty frugal about their phone usage. We can still keep in close touch with our little Johnnies if we need to but he won’t be playing games in class or sharing pictures of his butt on Instagram at recess.

Is he left out? Of course. While the rest of the kids bow in worship, he’s trying to strike up conversation and look people in the eye.

I think we all know who’s on the path to a better life.

Join me and Anton with your kids as we explore the ins and outs of the good life through short sketching videos on Psalm 119