I read an intriguing post about how The Internet Is Disrupting Religion. The author, Andy, is pleased to see religion go; I offered a few observations in the comment section. But a larger question has been forming in my mind since reading the post this morning: Should parents be concerned about their children browsing the internet?
First, the answer is a definite yes! Your children can encounter all manner of terrible content without warning. Inappropriate images and video abound, much of it no longer behind an age gate. If you are not aware of what your children are seeing, get involved. Educate yourself. Install tools to help you if needed. I believe some people abandon their faith simply because it's easier to wallow in sin.
Second, the answer is no, not if your concern is that your children will walk away from the faith because they read something online. The problem is not, as Andy postulates, that your children learn things. Learning stuff is great! But learning in a vacuum without seeking out truth is bad. It's too easy to just gulp down what's given you. So if you don't talk with your children about the interesting stuff they find online, you should. Discussion about difficult subjects is one of the many things that sets Sonlight apart. Tackling tough topics together is a hallmark of Sonlighters. There's nothing to fear in encountering these ideas, but there is a tremendous opportunity to learn and grow in your faith!
Third, of course you should be concerned with what your children ingest via the internet. But I don't think it's facts or arguments that pull people away. It's normalizing the non-religious. It's what Andy labels "the spotlight effect." But instead of presenting justice, mercy, and humility as how we ought to live, the internet often highlights things that promote our self-centered-ness. We, as followers of Christ, are abnormal, the minority, strange. So it's little wonder that our ideals would be overshadowed by secular ideas on the net. If we passively soak in those waters, it's little wonder we absorb some of the thinking.
But, no, there is no need for Christians to fear the internet. It's a tool. It offers amazing opportunity. Like every tool, we should use it properly, with wisdom and skill. And, like everything, you should be involved in helping your students learn to navigate the world wide web.
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