4 Principles to Navigate the Digital Deluge – A parents’ guide

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Our screen time hours are racking up.


For years, I’ve been vigilantly keeping technology at bay in order to keep my kids safe, natural, purposeful and openhearted. But with the COVID-19 pandemic, things have changed.

My second-grader is now “gaming” with classmates during e-learning. My teens cling to the phone as if it’s a friend. And my husband marches the family in front of the TV every Sunday morning for Mass. Even great-grandma is learning to use FaceTime!

Now, more than ever seems to be an opportunity to articulate to myself the deep-seated values I have about technology and to teach them to my kids. Perhaps you have been compelled to do the same with your family.

So, here are four principles to equip your children to face this new technological adventure using these four keywords: purposeful, open, natural, and safe.


“For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.” – Philippians 2:13

We all have God-given purposes in this stage of life that that only we can fulfill. Our purposes and vocation are rooted in our age and circumstances. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on doing these good missions in life — and only use technology in a way that will help our mission.

We can teach our children to use the best tools possible to fulfill their purpose in this stage of life.

Questions to consider with kids:

  • How does technology help or hinder the jobs/chores/purposes that I have in life?
  • What dreams do I have for my own life and what do I need to do to grow into that?
  • What hopes do parents, society, and God have for me — and how does technology play into that?


“God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all … if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another.” – 1 John 1:5,7

When we do our digital work with openness to people seeing our actions, our families naturally help to keep us accountable for doing what is good. Involving others in our works helps to keep our friendly bonds. When this openness becomes a habit, we also have a self-check — if we don’t feel open about something, it may be a personal red flag that we might not be doing the right thing.

We can teach our children to use technology with active openness — by letting others know what they are doing.

Some ideas for boundaries that promote openness and accountability:

  • No technology in the bedrooms or bathrooms
  • Intentionally mention to someone that you live with what you are doing when you go on a screen
  • Use technology in open, public spaces in the house where people will frequently walk by and see what you are up to


“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:8

We all want our kids to love what is good – and experience it in the flesh. We do not want them to fall down the virtual rabbit hole of a youtube channel and the like. Nor do we want them to become socially inept at face-to-face conversations, nor lose their reasoning skills because they are looking to quickly find some answers on Google. We want them to experience LIFE in all its messy physical fullness – not some airbrushed enhanced pseudo-life.

Sometimes, technology greatly helps us to do and experience what is natural – like see our relatives who are far away or connect low-income families to sources of food.

We can teach our children to value what is natural and real.

Questions to consider with kids:

  • Is using this technology right now limiting or helping my human (in-person) interactions?
  • Am I losing natural social, emotional or thoughtful skills?
  • How am I connected to the physical, present, and real realm of life?


“I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.” – John 17:15

There are plenty of hazards on and with the internet! Sexual predators, identity thieves, addiction, eye strain, bullying, sleep deprivation… the list goes on. Yet just like using knives, learning to drive or building a fire, there comes a time when we need to teach our kids how to navigate those dangers. Of course, we do not want to throw them in headfirst to every possible danger but rather walk with them through gradually more tricky scenarios.

Questions to consider with kids:

  • How do I need to protect myself from bad intending people?
  • How is technology physically affecting my posture, eyes, mood or sleep?
  • What best practices does our family maintain?

We can teach our kids to take care of their health and safety while using technology.


Evaluate Your Own Feelings and Pray

As you walk this path with your children, it may be helpful to evaluate your own feelings on the topic.

For me, as I felt thrown into this, I needed to mourn the loss of the free and innocent dream I had for my younger children. Your feelings may be totally different. And that, of course, is fine. I think that God wants to work powerfully in our families through who we are – our feelings, our knowledge, our convictions. So, I will leave you with a prayer that you can adapt to your own situation. We can open our hearts to let the Holy Spirit empower us for the good work we need to do.


God, you know my feeling about technology. You know my weaknesses, strengths, habits and opportunities. Help me to use all of these things for the advantage of my family. Help me to teach them to use this powerful tool for their own betterment and of society. Help them to be purposeful, open, natural and safe. Mostly, let my family please you. I trust in you.




Carrie Soukup, MA, is a catechist and highschool teacher in the northwest Chicago suburbs. Find her stories and tips for flourishing in prayer at GraceFinders.com.

Read more articles about catechesis at home during a crisis.


Image credit: Shutterstock 288275267

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