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Digital Discernment

What is digital discernment? How did we develop it? Why is it a solution that every family needs?

As a family who opts out of a lot of mainstream norms, people are often surprised that we allow a fair amount of screen time in our house.

Years ago, in my (Heidi’s) work as a parent and family educator, I developed a framework for having conversations around the media that our kids consume. The method helps us make family decisions, based on our values, mission and priorities, about what to watch, what not to watch, and how to talk about it. I modeled my approach off of our own experiences and those of the families I worked with in my capstone research on parents as primary educators.

As our kids grew, as kids will do, we had to work through what this meant online. I had this great temptation to say, “Forget it! Turn off the internet connection, it’s the only way to keep my kids safe!” I realized that would do more to harm my kids than help them in the long run.

As much as I wish that our world was not as digital as it is, at this point the dice has been cast. It’s not going away. Turning it off isn’t going to do anything except open up my kids to risks that come from not knowing what they are up against when they do walk online. Because the reality is, they will eventually walk online.

Not only that, but our kids are going to make mistakes online. Mistakes like we have. They will comment in the wrong place, publish something they wish they could delete or end up on a website they’d rather not. Pushing the starting line too far into the teenage or even young adult years means pushing these mistakes outside the safety net of home.

Once I talked myself out of turning off the internet forever, I got intentional about decision making and conversations. There are a lot of advantages and benefits to our global social world online. As a homesteader and farmer, I enjoy them every single day. I started to think about helping my family have the benefits.

And here I found another pitfall. With the benefits come risks. Big risks. Physical risks. Psychological risks. And, I’m realizing more and more, spiritual risks that scare me more than the rest put together. I realized the other extreme of anything goes was going to be as unhelpful as nothing goes.

Through much prayer, headbanging, gritching, moaning, complaining and worse I eventually pulled myself up by the bootstraps and asked, ”How can I make this better?“

The digital discernment process was born.

We now realize the only way to tackle technology is to start early, observe critically, talk often and be willing to make adjustments.

We accept that mistakes are going to happen and the important thing is that we deal with them.

We can give our kids a set of skills they can use and put in place long after they move into their own dorm room.

We need to develop a language to have hard conversations.

We define what our family can live with and put in place those rules.

We ignore abstract guidelines or best practices developed by someone that doesn’t know our kids and family values.

We are ready to help you do all this too!

You do not have to be overwhelmed by technology with your kids.

You can be proactive instead of reactive.

You do not have to be stressed out all the time.

We are ready to help you develop the skills to teach your children how to stay safe physically, psychologically and spiritually online. We are hosting a completely free webinar introducing our digital discernment method. The live course is on Thursday, December 29th at 7:00 PM Central Standard Time. A replay will be available for those who cannot attend live.

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