Learning Lessons

Learning lessons is hard. Isn’t it?

I’ve learned lots of lessons in life. Too many mistakes – mistakes I hope to never make again.

My mom actually learned an important lesson about me when I was just 8 years old.

I wanted Super Mario Bros. 3 when I was 8. I wanted this game so badly that I literally had dreams about it. I would wake up, not have it, and be mad.

One Saturday I was playing little league baseball and my Mom promised me Super Mario Bros. 3 if I hit a homerun. She felt pretty safe in her promise because I was a terrible athlete. She promised me this $50 game for my Nintendo if I hit a homerun.

So what did I do? I hit a homerun.

As I was rounding third base, my dad, who just happened to be the third base coach actually tried to stop me so he could save 50 bucks!

My mom learned an important lesson that day – never underestimate the power of an 8 year-old boy who’s bribed with video games.

I make jokes about learning lessons because that’s about as light as we’re going to get tonight.

Some of you have learned those hard lessons. Some of your kids have gotten in trouble on Twitter or Snapchat. Some of you have gotten that rude awakening from your children before. I even had a woman tell me one time that one of her daughter’s friend’s parents came over and knocked on their door at 2 in the morning because of something that had been said over text or Twitter. Unbelievable.

I’ve have older kids in their 20’s come up to me and say “I wish I’d have listened to my parents and to someone like you – because I nearly destroyed my life on social media.” This was coming from a girl who had literally almost killed herself (and she had tried!) because of messages and posts about her on Facebook years ago.

Or maybe I could tell you about the woman I know of in Nashville who didn’t get the job she was imminently qualified for because of ONE questionable photo on Twitter. She was seen holding red Solo cup at a party in a picture and when the Christian school found out about it, they hired someone else instead.

Parents, be aware. Did you know that your child can lose scholarships, get denied entry to college, or be denied a job or get fired from a job because of what they’ve posted to the internet? Because you can, and it happens every single day.

Companies and colleges are becoming more and more web-savvy. They contract out other companies to not just do an FBI background check on you, but a full social media workup of you – all your accounts, what you say, who you follow, and who you retweet. They know what you’ve looked at on Amazon, what you’ve sent even in ‘private messages’ sometimes. This data is not that hard to come by.

In order to not have a hard lesson learned, look at other people who have done bad things. Highlight stories on the news to your kids and show them that you could lose a college application, a job, or even your life with inappropriate use of the internet. Don’t scare your kids into submission – inform them of the dangers so they can make wise decisions on the internet.

What we do on the internet impacts our future, because that information is so very public in so many ways.

Talk to your kids every single say about the decisions they’re making on the internet. Every decision is impacting their future!

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Chad Landman is the youth minister for the Church Street Church of Christ in Lewisburg, Tennessee where he has served for four years. He and his wife Bonnie have two boys—Jacob and David. Chad writes about technology and Christianity on his website at chadl.co, and talks to other ministers and youth ministers about technology on his podcast called Ministry Bits. He speaks frequently at area churches using his Active Digital Parenting curriculum, now a weekly blog at Start2Finish.org.

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