January 04, 2007

Understanding Hidden Dangers Part 3

Written By Cary Schmidt

A Four Part Series of Articles for Discerning Parents

Through our last two articles we have been seeking to see what others do not or choose not to see. We’re asking the Lord to give us spiritual discernment and to enlighten the eyes of our understanding with regards to the hidden dangers our teenagers face. In this article I want to move on to the second serious area of dangers in young lives.

I choose to call these dangers “Obsessive, Compulsive Dangers.” There are many behaviors in our technologically advanced culture that could not be considered sinful or wicked on the surface, but by their very nature they can become obsessive and compulsive—or addictive. In other words, these behaviors become dominant, controlling, and often, subversive influences in the lives of both young people and parents.

Before we find out what they are, I want to state two important facts. First, some of these things in moderation are innocent and some are even helpful! Second, teens don’t live in a world of “moderation.” Not only do they not know what the word means, they just don’t do anything “moderately.” They obsess. Whether it’s a song, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a TV show, a skateboard, a video game, or a clothing style—they major in extremism. Teens are intensely faddish. While they are supposed to grow out of it, frankly some don’t and it is our responsibility as parents to teach them to live soberly and with biblical moderation. We must teach them to manage these potentially harmful behaviors with godly wisdom.

Almost anything can become an idol, but in an effort to keep the list short, here are just a few things that are currently dominating today’s youth culture in a negative way.

Internet Surfing/Gaming – A short study of technology will reveal that the more time we connect with the internet, the less time we connect with each other. Beware of the way that Satan tries to replace real family relationships with “cyber-life!” More importantly, don’t allow your teen to use any of the internet without your immediate presence.

Chat Rooms and Social Networking Sites – Most chat rooms and social networking sites are either blatantly perverse or computerized contention. I realize there are exceptions, and there should be. For young people and parents alike, these become highly obsessive and highly dangerous. Take three seconds and think about it—you probably have far more important things to do than “internet chatting.”

Text Messaging – What ever happened to the days when people actually talked to each other? Where are the guys that will actually speak honorably with a young lady face to face rather than texting her from his bedroom at midnight? More importantly, why do so many parents have no clue and no record of what and to whom their kids are communicating through their incessant texting. Again—this is a rather innocent tool that becomes an unhealthy obsession.

Video Gaming – In our culture, video games have become a replacement for home relationships and this is greatly limiting our children’s potential. I have no problem with fun in moderation, but watch the time, the music, the content, and the extremes in this area.

Skate Boarding/Extreme Sports – The sad part of the extreme sports scene is that it’s not merely about fun—it’s about a cult-like lifestyle, rock music, and living wildly. There maybe nothing wrong with a snowboard or motorcycle, but often the accompanying lifestyle must be carefully avoided. Guard the heart of your child.

Dating/Obsessive Friendships
– During the teen years, obsession with boys or girls can become a growth-halting factor. Parents must vigilantly strike a balance between allowing normal boy/girl friendships with some mild attraction and limiting those feelings from becoming enlarged and dominant in the heart of a student. In addition to this, young people often pick one friend and latch on to that friend in an obsessive and unhealthy way. These kinds of dominant friendships can take priority over the Lord, over family, and over important life values. Parents, you are the gatekeepers.

This is just a short list of behaviors that often become “possessive” of our kids in dangerous ways. Parents, be mindful that the Holy Spirit has the only right of “possession” in the heart of your teen. Don’t allow these types of things to crowd out vital relationships with God and family.

The Bible calls these things “folly” which means silliness at a simple level or at a morally perverse level. Folly is whatever diverts your teenager from godliness. God also calls these things “strongholds,” which might be considered, “anything that tries to hold on strongly when you try to tear it down.”

Parent, be wise and be diligent to teach your teen to use innocent technology and to balance friendships and interests with great caution and moderation.