In the early morning hours one Sunday, a 19-year-old teen working at a campsite in Boulder, Colorado, woke up to a loud crunching noise and exploding pain in his head. Something was dragging his body away from his bedding. After the initial moment of shock, the boy realized that a bear had his head between its teeth. Other staffers quickly woke up and tried to scare the bear away, and eventually, the bear left. The teen survived, and he only required a few stitches in his scalp. He was blessed that the bear hadn’t completely crushed his skull!
There most likely aren’t any bears roaming around freely where you live—but there is a lion prowling about, and he wants to devour you! That lion is Satan the devil.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9).
Satan is out there, and he is more real than the bear that attacked that teen. One of the main tools he is using today is technology and popular culture: smartphones, social media, television, tablets, computers, gaming consoles and the like. You must see the real, potential dangers in these and determine to fight this threat if you are going to be protected from it.
It can be tempting to brush the warnings aside. You could easily think that your parents or ministers are overreacting. But that is seriously underestimating the power of the devil and what he can do through modern technology. Yet you don’t have to be afraid of this threat. You can address it with a positive attack that you engineer—if you take to heart the points in this article.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We often apply this verse to parents and their responsibility to take care of their children. Part of that training process involves education, encouragement and occasional discipline when necessary.
In this verse specifically, however, train means to dedicate, consecrate, initiate or discipline. This goes beyond simple education. This is talking about dedication to a way of life. To consecrate means to set apart for a holy purpose. To initiate means to begin or commence. We may think that discipline refers to punishment, but it can also refer to self-control. Your parents are charged with the responsibility to commence your spiritual life, lead you to dedicate your life to God, and teach you to exercise self-control.
This scripture doesn’t just apply to your parents. Apply this verse to yourself.
As a young person, God is telling you that if you commence your relationship with Him, dedicate your life to Him, set yourself apart from the world, and exercise self-control while you are young, you won’t leave this way of life when you grow older! This is strong instruction from God—and it is encouraging, if you approach it with the right mindset.
The habits, practices, motivation, dedication and discipline that shape your youth have long-term results. Your habits today have consequences in your spiritual life in the future. If you establish the habit of praying and studying every day while you are young, you are more likely to keep that habit going as you grow older. Your habits today also establish your future work ethic, service mindset, friendliness, honesty, approach to education, and even diet and exercise.
You are establishing your future way of life right now—in your youth. The habits that you set for yourself today will carry over into your adult life.
With that in mind, can you see the importance of being disciplined with the use of technology? Can you train yourself to be disciplined with the use of technology?
Rely on the Father
Before we talk about how to withstand Satan’s attacks and set yourself on the right course regarding technology, let’s look at an important example. Jesus Christ was a perfect and powerful man filled with God’s Holy Spirit. He was also under constant, vicious attack from Satan the devil. Note how He approached His training: “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30).
Jesus Christ relied completely on God the Father. He knew that He could not conduct Himself properly if He relied on His own will or reasoning—that He could do nothing by Himself!
Hebrews 5:7-9 expound on this idea: “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered [experienced]; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”
When it says that He became the author of eternal salvation, it means that He became our example. We must live as He did if we want to be successful. Thus, when we set out to confront the devil and train ourselves to live God’s way—when we take on a towering challenge like limiting our use of technology—we must realize that we are going to need God’s help.
The bear story from the beginning of the article was a real attack by a vicious animal. It wasn’t dragging that 19-year-old teen out to play soccer. That teen was vulnerable—asleep—and the bear was going to eat him.
In 1 Peter 5:9, Peter writes that we must know that “the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” This means that you are under the same attacks as young people in the world. Affliction means hardship, emotion or influence. Satan uses the same hardships, emotions and influences against you as he does against the teens in the world!
Ephesians 2:1-3 say something similar: “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”
This passage says that we once walked according to the course of this world. In times past, we conducted ourselves like everyone else in the world. But now, God has called us to a different life to train us in the way we should go. God creates a change in us now, though we are still tuned in to Satan’s broadcast, just like everyone else in the world. But we must understand how Satan works and fight that broadcast (verse 1).
Satan is the prince of the power of the air (verse 2). He broadcasts his attitudes, impulses and thoughts through the air as any radio station broadcasts audio signals—that is how he works. You cannot hear a radio station unless you are tuned in to it. Satan’s broadcast is the same. You don’t see, hear, feel, smell or taste the broadcast, but it is out there. And as human beings, we are always tuned in to it—whether we realize it or not.
This broadcast appeals to your human nature, which is actually Satan’s nature. It appeals to the lusts and desires of the flesh and mind (verse 3). Satan appeals to the self. He throws bad music, immoral movies, inappropriate sexual thoughts, pure selfishness and immediate gratification at you.
Both Peter and Paul warned that Satan goes after you with the same tools he uses to go after the teens in the world. And one of the biggest areas Satan uses to attack young people is the area of technology—smartphones, social media, etc. This means that you are susceptible to the dangers of technology just like everyone else out there.
The warning is even stronger for you, however, because Satan wants to destroy those in God’s Church—including the teens—even more than those in the world. He has been cast down and confined to this Earth today (Revelation 12:9). This Earth is under a stronger attack from Satan than ever before—but he already has the entire world deceived, so he focuses the majority of his attack on the Church—you and me! (verse 13). We are in a face-to-face battle with the devil!
Satan is filled with anger, and he is bent on destroying you. He is broadcasting in a way that naturally appeals to your weaknesses. We had better be sober enough to understand the reality in which we live.
We don’t have to be fearful of Satan, however. If we choose to obey God, He will always be there to fight for us. Through the power of His Spirit working with you, God will give you a sound mind—that means self-control. When God works with you, He will give you the discipline, self-control and initiative to do what is right and prudent. You will have full access to God’s help, power and mind!
But you have to go after it! You have to choose it!
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him; for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them” (Deuteronomy 30:19-20).
This is the positive approach we need to have. We must choose. It is a decision each of us makes ourselves. Your parents cannot make this decision for you.
God is there to help—if you choose His way—and He will help you love Him, obey Him, and cleave to Him. He is inviting you into His Family forever. Is that reward worth disciplining yourself now?
There are three reasons why you need to set yourself on the right course in the area of technology as a young person. If you want to ensure that your future will be beneficial and productive, use these three reasons as motivation to train yourself in the way that you should go.
Reason One—There is Danger
As we have seen, Satan’s attacks are more dangerous than any bear attack. Thus, the first reason you need to determine for yourself that you will be disciplined in your use of technology—and seek God’s help in the process—is because there is a danger associated with technology.
Whether you accept it or not, Satan is behind the wrong use of technology. If you are oblivious to that, you are at great risk.
The specific threats that the Internet, for example, pose are too numerous to thoroughly single them out—we cannot blame it on just one or two websites or social media platforms. Satan can easily use them all to go after each of us. But here are just a few of the specific ways that Satan can use technology to attack us.
The executive director of one of the country’s top rehabilitation centers, Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, wrote an article for the New York Post titled “It’s ‘Digital Heroin’: How Screens Turn Kids Into Psychotic Junkies.” In the article, he explained that technology has the same effect on the brain as drugs like heroin and cocaine in that it can adversely affect the brain’s frontal cortex, which governs impulse control. “We now know,” wrote Kardaras, “that those iPads, smartphones and Xboxes are a form of digital drug. … Technology is so hyper-arousing that it raises dopamine levels—the feel-good neurotransmitter most involved in the addiction dynamic—as much as sex.”
Dr. Kardaras gave an example of one of his rehab clients: a 6-year-old boy who became addicted to playing Minecraft on his iPad. It became so bad that one night his mother found him sitting up in his bed, staring off into space. His iPad was beside him, but he wasn’t using it. He seemed to be in some sort of trance. She had to shake him out of it, and then she had to seek Kardaras’s help to try to cure her son of the addiction.
The dangers of technology aren’t just mental, however. There are also real physical threats. Sexual predators and stalkers will take advantage of anyone who carelessly posts personal information. A sheriff’s deputy named James Spurlock goes to schools and gives students assemblies about the dangers of technology. The Washington Post explained Spurlock’s job:
“[H]is audience members this morning are fidgety, pint-size 11- and 12-year-olds, and his warnings are about the threats lurking in their laptops, gaming devices and smartphones—such as grown-ups who send messages or photos to kids they don’t know, trying to get them to respond. Child abusers have a name for this technique.
“‘They call it bunny hunting,’ the deputy says, and the hundred-or-so tweens sitting before him grow very quiet.”
Spurlock’s job is to warn the students—who are even younger than most of you reading this article—about sexting, sextortion, cyberbullying, sexual predation and identity theft—all growing dangers because of the technology they have such ready access to.
News headline after news headline reinforces the dangers hidden within the technology that people think is common today: “Little by Little, Violent Video Games Make Us More Aggressive” wrote Time magazine. “A 14-year-old girl from Lubbock died early Sunday morning after being electrocuted in a bathtub,” wrote a local Texas news station. She had brought her iPhone, which was plugged into a charger, into the tub with her. From Fox News: “Woman Streams Her Own Fatal Car Crash on Facebook Live.”
From the Associated Press: “Ghoulish Online Game Urges Young People to End Their Lives.” The game involves 50 days of challenges. The people in charge of the game send challenges to the players—things like watching scary movies or cutting themselves and posting pictures on social media sites—for 50 days. On the 50th day, the challenge is to commit suicide. This article reports that several suicides have been linked back to this game.
These are just a few examples of the ways that Satan can use technology to threaten your life—mentally, physically, emotionally and even spiritually. Your parents and ministers strive to protect you as best they can, but Satan is so effective at throwing these temptations at you that even your parents can be easily circumvented. That is why you must discipline yourself to use it in a wise, limited, appropriate way. You must train, discipline and consecrate yourselves.
One of God’s commandments is to honor your parents—and your parents are setting loving restrictions and warning you about pop culture. Are you listening and obeying? This is one of the Ten Commandments, and to work around it or not obey your parents’ instruction is sin! God cannot dwell with sin (Isaiah 59:2), so if you are not obeying your parents, ministers or His own instruction from the Bible, then you are cutting yourself off from God and His help and protection. That is a scary thing.
Remember the bear from the beginning of the article. Remember the roaring lion that lurks about. Realize that you must have God’s help and protection, or you are in serious danger. Jesus Christ said that He could do nothing by Himself. How much more are we incapable of doing anything on our own? This is why you must develop your relationship with God through prayer and Bible study. This is why you must allow God’s Spirit to lead you in the way you act. You need help from God to counteract the dangers of technology!
Reason Two—You Waste Precious Time
The second reason you need to determine for yourself that you will limit your use of modern technology is because if you spend too much time with that technology, you are wasting your precious time—and slowing your physical, mental, emotional and, most importantly, spiritual development! Even if you protect yourself from the worst dangers that technology poses, you can still pay a high price for wasting your time with seemingly harmless games and silly videos.
Proverbs 25:28 says, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Ephesians 5:16 tells us that we need to redeem, or buy up, the time that we have “because the days are evil.” Proverbs 6:6 tells us to, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise.”
We have to be diligent and refuse to waste our time. We don’t know how much time we have left, so what we do each day really matters! If you waste a lot of your time on your phone, you won’t be working on the things that really matter.
Not only are you wasting time, but you are replacing important activities such as physical exercise, schoolwork and even face-to-face interaction with screen time. This can slow down your physical, mental and emotional development. If you want to develop into a well-rounded adult, you must take advantage of the time you have as a teen. You have more time today—when you don’t have to worry about a full-time job, paying bills, or taking care of a house—to develop your body and mind. Use this time wisely; don’t waste it on useless technology.
Proverbs 16:32 says, “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” We can be better than warriors—but only if we can control and develop our spirit. Do you have the self-discipline to limit your use of technology?
Reason Three—You Need to Choose
The third reason that you need to determine to be disciplined in your use of technology is because you need to choose to live according to God’s method—and technology can easily get in the way of that. God’s way is the way that leads to happiness. That method is on display for you when you attend pyc, when you study the examples of godly men and women in the Bible, when you attend Imperial Academy or Herbert W. Armstrong College, and when you study the Church materials. That way goes exactly the opposite of the way Satan presents to you through the many modern technological platforms. You are going to have to choose one or the other—you cannot serve both (Matthew 6:24).
1 Thessalonians 5:6 says, “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.” We can’t play Satan’s game. We have to be aware of the dangers he attacks us with, alert to the amount of time we are wasting, and carefully watching the kind of character we are developing.
Titus 2:12 says, “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.”
If you have attended pyc, think about the way that the schedule is structured and the classes that you attend. Think about the fruits—the way you feel during camp. You make friends, learn new things, exercise your muscles, grow in character and godly knowledge, and live a balanced, fun life. You are happy. The question is, can you keep that format going all the time in your personal life? If you enjoy the lifestyle at camp so much, why wouldn’t you keep that format going? Why would you return to your old habits and ways? If you return to your old ways, it’s like a dog returning to its vomit (Proverbs 26:11).
Several pcg ministers devote their entire year to teaching, training and motivating young people. Many employees are paid to work full-time for AC, IA, True Education, music programs, pyc and so forth. The pcg also has youth camps in England, Australia and the Philippines. God is helping His Church develop many programs for His youth, and they all revolve around teaching you to dedicate yourself to God’s way of life.
At pyc, there are no activities devoted to learning how to play computer games. Campers do not update their social media status, browse the web, or play Minecraft. pyc is inspiring. It is proof that God’s way works—and without all these modern devices. Can you make the connection between removing the technology and the fun and growth that you experience at pyc?
Do you want that fun and growth to continue? Do you want to go to IA or even AC? Do you want to help develop campuses in the U.S. or the UK? Do you want to play an instrument or dance on the stage of God’s house? Do you want a happy family? Do you want a sound mind?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, then turn off your devices more frequently. Stay away from addictive games and pop culture, and severely limit your social media presence. Choose to dedicate your life to God.
You have to choose—you have to be the one that is training yourself in God’s way so you don’t depart from it. You are the one who must make the changes—you must stand up to the devil and alter your behavior. You must discipline yourself!
“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Peter 1:10).
You must remember Christ’s example. He let the Father do everything for Him. Have the humility, as 1 Peter 5:6 says, to let God train you—through your parents’ and ministers’ instructions. Have the determination to submit yourself to that training. Have the faith to believe your parents and God when they tell you what is good for you and what isn’t.