Tech Talk: Parenting in the Digital Age

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An interview and advice from Chris McKenna, CEO of Protect Young Eyes

The Internet is available almost everywhere. As parents, we are faced with questions on how to navigate the world of social media, mobile devices, computers, tablets and gaming devices with little or no training in this area. The rapid growth and change in technology can make it overwhelming, and it causes great anxiety for parents as well as children. Sometimes it can make us want to take all our media devices and run them over with our cars!

Yet the Church does not tell us to be anti-technology. In his Apostolic Letter to Those Responsible for Communications in 2005, Saint Pope John Paul II declared, “Do not be afraid of new technologies! These rank ‘among the marvelous things’ … which God has placed at our disposal to discover.”

In an effort to help you parent in the digital age, I interviewed Chris McKenna, CEO of Protect Young Eyes, my favorite resource to share with parents for solid, faith filled resources on protecting your children.

"Parenting in the digital age" by Michele Faehnle (CatholicMom.com)

Image courtesy of Chris McKenna. Used with permission.

Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your experience with technology.

I’m a father of four and husband to Andrea. My children are ages 14 (girl), 9, 9, and 7 (boys). I obviously love technology and have always depended on it heavily in my various professional roles as a business consultant, youth pastor, digital marketer for Covenant Eyes and CEO of Protect Young Eyes. I was exposed to pornography at an early age, which contributed to an unhealthy, early curiosity about explicit content, but little guidance on how to deal with these curiosities. The resulting struggled and successes in overcoming those struggles give me keen insight into the current struggles that many young people face when confronted with the onslaught of graphic content that is present in their pocket every day.

What is Protect Young Eyes, why is it needed, and how can it help families?

Protect Young Eyes helps schools, churches, and families create safer digital environments. We do this through a constantly updated website that explains the latest digital trends, live presentations at churches and schools to students, educators, and parents, and in-class digital citizenship curriculum.

What resources do you offer to parents, families, schools and churches?

  • ProtectYoungEyes.com is constantly updated with the latest digital trends.
  • Our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages include regular posts about what impacts technology is having on families and young people.
  • Our bi-weekly tech trends newsletter is free for all parents and caring adults. Just text the word “protect” (no quotes) to 66866.
  • We visit hundreds of schools, churches, and organizations around the country with our presentations about using technology for good (Find out how to request a presentation).
  • We’ve recently updated our parent education videos (also in Spanish!) which are digital versions of our nationally-recognized adult presentation, The Digital Culture of Kids.

One of the biggest struggles for Catholic moms can be their lack of knowledge on how to “lock down” or filter their internet. How can PYE help?

We have a whole section of device-specific, step-by-step instructions for enabling parental controls if they exist. Learn about device parental controls. 

What are a few of your favorite tips that you share with students and parents on internet safety when you give presentations?

  • As parents, it’s time to look our kids in the eyes and talk to them about all of the awkward things that no one talked to us about. Because if we don’t talk, then Dr. Google will. And his office hours are 24/7.
  • There’s no such thing as passive parenting in the digital age!
  • Parents who are observant, engaged, and informed often have kids who learn to use technology well.

I encourage you to check out ProtectYoungEyes.com and sign up for their email newsletters for all the up-to-date info on digital trends!

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.


Copyright 2019 Michele Faehnle

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About Author

Michele Faehnle is a wife, mother of 4 and a school nurse. In her free time she enjoys volunteering for the church and is the co-chair of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference. She is also the co-author of The Friendship Project and Divine Mercy For Moms: Sharing the Lessons of St. Faustina through Ave Maria Press. She blogs at divinemercyformoms.com and The Friendship Project Book.

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