Hey There. I thought I would try out a different approach to sharing what I’ve been learning lately. Above is my first video blog post where I share a productivity technique I’ve recently discovered that is simple to implement and has helped me develop longer periods of focus, and increased productivity.

It is called the Pomodor Technique, and from the website, http://www.pomodorotechnique.com, it is described as, “a time management method created by Francesco Cirillo in the 1980s that helps you accomplish what you want to do by transforming time into a valuable ally. Why is it so popular? Because it is easy to use, and most of all, because it works!”

I’m curious to learn about what struggles others have with staying focused or getting work done in our multi-media distraction-filled world? What do you do to stay focused? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Video: Learning to be more productive

Tech-Wise Parents: Facebook hasn’t changed anything!

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If you’re a parent you’ve probably heard about Facebook. If you have teens, it is most likely your teen is an active user of Facebook. Like any tool, Facebook is a powerful website for good or for evil, depending on how it’s used or misused. For this article, I am going to assume you know a little bit about Facebook, so if any words I use below are new to you, go online and search it to get a better understanding.

As a people-connector, Facebook helps bridge distance with family members living far away, allows people to stay in touch, share photos, and communicate. For some young people, Facebook has replaced email as the communication tool of preference. There are a lot of positive things to say about how Facebook can help people connect and stay connected. It is important that the focus of your Facebook usage (or your kids’) be on connecting with real people we know and care about, rather than just being voyeurs into stranger’s lives.

Now for the warnings: because of the social nature of how Facebook works, if a friend of your teen “Likes” any sort of inappropriate content, this may likely show up on your teen’s “wall”. Additionally, many games on Facebook have built-in features that send out invites to a user’s friends. So, if a friend of your teen plays games you might consider inappropriate, your teens will potentially be invited to play as well. This highlights the importance of being wise who you “friend” on Facebook. The short of it is, there is a lot of inappropriate content that no follower of Christ should be “consuming”. Through Facebook’s social or viral features, any Facebook user can be unintentionally exposed to this content. Additionally, Facebook is a leading website for brands that want to reach teens and college students. Unfortunately, for too many of these brands, “sex” is the “default” message used to sell to young people today.

Let’s be honest—this isn’t much different than in real life. So, before you get caught up on the technical mysteries of Facebook, I encourage you to go back to the basics of discipline and what Scripture has to teach us. To be on the same page, let’s define that together.

“Discipline in its truest sense refers to one thing: training. Heart training. … The word discipline comes from the same Latin root (discipulus) as ‘disciple’ — one who is a learner. Parents are the teachers, children are the disciples,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 114).

If you have young kids, now is the time to establish strong trust relationships with them, so they can be open with you as they grow older. If you have a teen, renew your efforts to encourage transparency and accountability with your teens and their use of the Internet, regardless of what sites they frequent. Agree to hold each other accountable to the amount of time spent on Facebook (…that goes for adults too!) as well as what content is being consumed. Technology and the popular website of the day will constantly change, but God’s command, and promise, found in Proverbs 22:6 remains the same: “Train children in the way they should go; when they grow old, they won’t depart from it.”

A few technical things that would be helpful for you as a parent to know include how to check your internet browser’s history (do a search on Google), and how to set your Facebook account’s privacy settings. To learn more about Facebook, go to www.facebook.com/help. Remember: The goal is not to “spy” on your kids or spouse, but rather to hold them accountable. In a good discipleship relationship, and depending on your kids’ age, this comes with a balance of openness, consequences and training.

Tech-Wise Parents: Being Salt in the Real World

(Note: the following article is written with the assumption the reader believes and follows the teachings of the Bible, and is written from that perspective. The principles are applicable to anyone, regardless of your religious background or beliefs.)

Several places in in the Bible we see God indicate that the role of parenting is one of active involvement. Proverb 29:17 says, ‘Discipline your children, and they will give you peace; they will bring you the delights you desire.” We can mistakenly associate “discipline” with just the punishment part, but the dictionary defines it also as, “The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior…” This is a reminder that we are called to actively engage with our kids and train them, regardless of whether it is related to high tech media or not. Technology is just a tool — people are, for the most part, still the same.

In my home growing up, the rule for online “chatting” for my little sister was, “only if you have met someone before, in person and in real life”. My sister was the youngest of 6 with 5 older brothers, so the rule was well enforced. As silly as that might sound, the principle is sound and can help safeguard your kids not just from predators (less likely), but also from assertive negative peers of either gender and from developing unhealthy relationship-building patterns. If your teen or pre-teen would rather not be associated with, or has been forbidden from associating with someone in the real world, they should not be engaging in an online “friendship” either. Or, if they desire to get to know someone, they should learn to be appropriately friendly with that person, before relying on the Internet to communicate with someone.

Simply put, if it’s not someone they know, they should not be chatting or connecting through social media. This isn’t meant to encourage rudeness, but rather to encourage real human interactions as the primary method God gave us to relate to each other. It can also help to prevent the unhealthy aspects of false-emotions that can build with someone you think you know online, but have never met in real life.

The internet is just another tool. Not unlike the invention of the printing press or the telephone, this technology is bringing about rapid change to how we communicate with each other. In our fallen nature as sinful human beings, any change is easily abused for the wrong reasons (isolation, pornography, etc.). Our challenge as followers of Christ is to continue being salt–that is attracting others to Christ–and to coach our kids in doing likewise. This is true, even when the methods of communication change.

Next Month: I’ll be writing about safe use of Facebook to connect with others, and how to hold your kids accountable to safe practices of this popular social media tool.

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You can see the first post on this series here: Being Tech-Wise Parents

Being Tech-Wise Parents

Godly parenting has always been challenging, but today’s fast-changing technology poses serious challenges for parents wanting to be involved in helping kids make wise, discerning choices in what media they consume. I want to encourage parents to believe they can in fact understand and learn about gadgets and electronics teens are asking for. It will take a little work, and a commitment to not shying away from learning something new.

At the end of the day, the principles of Godly parenting as found in Scriptures remain the same, and won’t change just because technology does. So, keep reading Scripture to stay fresh on those child-rearing principles, and read my “Being Tech-Wise Parents” each month to learn a tip on navigating the world of electronics and gadgets.

Did you know that most of the popular music (MP3) players, like the iPod, have the ability to navigate the Internet through the use of wireless (WiFi) internet access. This is usually available anywhere wireless internet access is provided. To know if a device you’re considering has internet access, look for something that indicates it has “WiFi” capabilities.

If you plan on allowing your child or teen the use of such device, make sure you have discussed the use of the Internet with him or her, established guidelines for your family, and consider using Internet filtering software at home.

For more suggested guideline to help your kids stay safe online, go to http://tinyurl.com/internetguideline.

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