Building Digital Trust: Chris McKenna’s Insights on Raising Teens in a Tech-Driven World

As someone deeply involved with the challenges teens face today, I, Jesse LeBeau, am thrilled to share an enlightening conversation with Chris McKenna from our latest Parenting Teens Today podcast episode. Chris McKenna, who led a junior high ministry in West Michigan from 2009 to 2016 and is the founder of Protect Young Eyes, emphasizes the importance of fostering face-to-face relationships during critical developmental transitions. In this episode, we dive into the effects of technology on teens and explore practical strategies parents can implement to help their children navigate the digital landscape.

Chris and I agree that face-to-face interactions are crucial for healthy adolescent development. The presence of screens in our teens’ lives poses a significant challenge, as it can negatively impact their social skills and overall happiness. That’s why proactive dialogue and planning among parents are vital in combating these technological influences.

One of the key principles Chris advocates for is approaching teens’ use of technology with curiosity and empathy. Recognizing that kids are often victims of devices designed to be addictive, we, as parents, need to stay calm and maintain an open demeanor during tech conversations. This approach helps in building digital trust, allowing kids to feel safe and supported when discussing their online activities.

We also tackle the critical issue of aligning technology usage with personal values. The time teens spend on social media platforms can often be demoralizing. By fostering a value-driven approach to technology use, we can help them find fulfillment and increased productivity outside the digital realm.

Protect Young Eyes, the initiative Chris founded, provides invaluable resources for parents striving to manage their children’s screen time. From comprehensive guides and reviews to a supportive membership community, these resources align perfectly with the goal of creating safer digital spaces for kids.

Furthermore, addressing the difficulties and discomfort in guiding teens through technology use is essential. As parents, we must be willing to endure these challenges and take responsibility for our children’s online experiences. This often involves setting boundaries and collaborating with other parents to create consistent guidelines for technology use.

Overall, reducing screen time and reconnecting with real-world activities can have profoundly positive effects on our children. In this blog, we will delve deeper into these strategies, offering practical advice and insights based on my discussion with Chris McKenna.

The Importance of Face-to-Face Interactions

Chris McKenna highlights the profound impact of face-to-face interactions on teen development. Digital screens often act as substitutes, hindering the formation of crucial social skills and emotional connections. Research supports this, showing that in-person communication plays a critical role in developing empathy, promoting effective communication, and building lasting relationships.

During adolescence, teens undergo significant changes that make interpersonal interactions essential. Face-to-face communication helps in reading emotional cues, understanding social norms, and developing self-esteem. It’s these real-world experiences that instill the resilience and emotional intelligence necessary for adulthood.

A proactive approach from parents is necessary to facilitate these interactions. Organizing family activities where screens are put aside, encouraging participation in sports and group activities, and fostering an environment that values personal connections over digital ones can greatly benefit teens.

Building Digital Trust with Curiosity and Empathy

When it comes to technology, the importance of building digital trust cannot be overstated. Chris advises parents to approach discussions around technology in a calm and curious manner. This means setting aside any preconceived judgments and listening empathetically to understand the challenges and pressures that teens face in the online world.

Such an approach creates a safe space for teens to open up about their online experiences. Instead of feeling criticized or misunderstood, they are more likely to seek guidance and support from their parents. This not only strengthens the parent-child bond but also equips teens with the knowledge to safely navigate digital spaces.

Furthermore, using this empathetic approach in conversations about technology helps in setting realistic and respectful guidelines for screen usage. It encourages a dialogue where both parties feel heard and understood, leading to more effective and sustainable solutions.

Aligning Technology Use with Personal Values

A significant point of discussion with Chris McKenna was how teens often waste time on social media, which can be demoralizing and impede their personal growth. This is where aligning technology usage with personal values becomes crucial. By helping teens understand and articulate their values, parents can guide them to make more intentional choices about how they spend their time online.

Encouraging activities that align with teens’ interests and values can redirect their focus from unproductive digital engagements to more enriching real-world experiences. For instance, if a teen values creativity, they might be encouraged to pursue hobbies like painting, writing, or playing a musical instrument instead of scrolling through social media feeds.

This value-driven approach not only enhances their sense of purpose but also contributes to overall well-being and happiness. By aligning technology use with what truly matters, teens are more likely to find fulfillment and develop a balanced relationship with digital media.

Leveraging Protect Young Eyes for Support

Protect Young Eyes, the initiative founded by Chris, offers a treasure trove of resources for parents keen on managing their children’s screen time effectively. From guides on digital wellbeing to detailed reviews of popular apps, these resources are designed to provide practical and actionable advice for navigating the digital landscape.

One of the standout features of Protect Young Eyes is its membership community, where parents can connect, share experiences, and seek support. This community-driven aspect fosters a collaborative environment where parents can collectively address the challenges posed by technology.

Moreover, Protect Young Eyes extends its reach to schools, offering talks and resources on digital wellness. Whether it’s secular or faith-based institutions, these efforts are aimed at creating safer digital spaces and promoting a balanced approach to technology use among students.

Empowering Our Teens in a Tech-Driven World

In conclusion, helping our teens develop a healthy relationship with technology is crucial for their emotional, psychological, and social well-being. By emphasizing face-to-face interactions, adopting a curious and empathetic approach to their digital habits, and aligning technology usage with our family values, we can guide our teens through the complexities of the digital world.

The resources available through Protect Young Eyes are invaluable in this journey. By utilizing these tools and connecting with the supportive community, parents can find effective strategies and solutions tailored to their specific needs. This collective effort can lead to a more balanced and fulfilling digital experience for our teens.

As parents, taking responsibility for our children’s online experiences and involving them in finding solutions can foster a sense of empowerment and accountability. Implementing these strategies may take time and effort, but the positive outcomes, such as reduced screen time and stronger real-world connections, are well worth it.

Finally, I urge you to join our free Facebook group community for additional tips, support, and resources. Let’s work together to empower our teens and help them thrive in a tech-driven world. Additionally, explore the Jesse LeBeau speaking and school programs to further support your teen’s journey towards building resilience and achieving personal growth.

Have you ordered your copy of ‘Among The Giants’ yet? Get your copy by clicking !