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Technology: Friend or Enemy of Muslim Youth?

We must teach them to filter through our children acquaintances and realize who will affect them positively.

By Deana Nassar / 31 Oct 2013

With the average child more able to use the computer and surf the internet rather than ride a bike and high-schoolers already owning a cell phone it is without doubt the question of how much control should we as parents have on our children's gadgets is a difficult question for today's digital parent to answer.

It is unfortunate that our children are being psyched to use every gadget imaginable while not to consider the devices' extraordinary impact, good and bad on our lives.

Given the speed at which technology moves and how slow we, as parents, have been to react, a lot of us feel we must play catch-up and educate ourselves to keep up.

While this is a predicament many parents face, for us as practicing Muslims we face the challenge tenfold. A far cry from when we were young and our parents took us to Sunday school to learn Arabic and Quran for sure.

The idea that our children are moving beyond our absolute control may be the bitterest pill for many of us to swallow in the digital era. The need to protect children is reflexive, visceral, and instinctive. All the harder, then, to change; difficult yes impossible no, I know I have tried. Too many times one feels how can we compete with the outside world but it is our duty and this we cannot deny.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) cited to Ali (may Allah be pleased with him):

“O' `Ali, there are as many rights of children incumbent upon parents as there are rights of parents incumbent upon children.”

By discussing with our children that modern development is possible, side by side with entertaining a Muslim identity we can teach them how to positively use their devices all the time holding strong to and being proud of their identity and the beliefs they were raised.

Introducing them to online forums which offer room for religious discussions in addition to following sites which are a mouthpiece for young Muslims may encourage them to both learn and discuss while spreading ideas. We can also persuade them to download applications on their mobiles which support and remind us of prayer times and other religious duties.

Use Your Time Wisely

By explaining to our kids that social media which they have chosen to be part of, in my case the dreaded Facebook, doesn’t just play a role at the individual level, but also on the virtual ummah (Muslim community) which is being created.

This will help them take part as they read more possibly becoming the better person God created them to be. We can encourage our children to take part in charity work by organizing with friends over the internet and making plans and following through with actual physical work outdoors. Hence teaching them the value of time and that we will be asked by God on how we utilized our time in this world. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) says:

"There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) health and free time for doing good.”(Ibn Majah, 4170)

Again the Quran emphasizes the significance of our purpose in this world

{I have only created Jinns and Men, that they may serve Me. No Sustenance do I require of them, nor do I require that they should feed Me. For Allah is He Who gives (all) Sustenance, Lord of Power, Steadfast (for ever).}(51: 56-8)

Discuss with your children the benefits of charity and community work even if you need to bribe them. It may not sound right but it worked for me at first and now the kids are racing to be part and parcel of the community workers, they have even involved their friends and created events using our would be 'enemy' technology!

Remember, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) says:

"The believer's shade on the Day of Resurrection will be his charity."(At-Tirmidhi)

We can encourage our kids to choose specific times each day when all involved will turn off all technology and what better way than to lead by example. Mornings are best when we are more likely to have more energy to get challenging tasks done.

We can also get involved with our children in playing sports in an effort to bond and to wean them off the technology which in many cases wastes our times if employed in large doses.

The benefits of sports can lead to a healthier Islamic society on a social level and a healthier lifestyle for us as individuals. Through sport and community service our impressionable young learn values like discipline, responsibility, self-confidence, sacrifice, and accountability.

Constructive Communication

By educating ourselves more on how we can fully benefit from the digital revolution, we may experiment with our children on how we can give Muslims a voice, and in turn make Islam tangible meeting the needs of the existing duality of other Muslim youth. This paves the way to discuss further with our children their duty towards parents, family and more importantly God.

While it is known that the duty of children is to obey their parents including inward reverence, as well as outward acts, we as parents must not be impatient meaning not using unreasonable severities. How many of us have decided to punish our children by taking from them what they love most - that is their gadgets - and disregarding their self-respect.

With peer pressure affecting many of their unwise decisions, we as adults must deal prudently and wisely with children and try to understand their judgments and work upon their reason.

In short, constructive communication is the key to good parenting and that according to experts, the communication ratio should be one part parent talking to five parts parent listening.

Steven Covey writes that: "Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

Unfortunately this includes us as parents; I admit I may be one of them at times thinking they need to hear me more then I should hear them. We need to talk to our kids about acceptable technology use and build a trusting relationship.

Their first birthright is for us to bring them up well; under proper and compassionate correction; and in the knowledge of the duty God requires. Teach them the significance of respecting parents and their elders and as mentioned above is the best example and actions speak louder than words. If they see you treat your parents well then it will only be natural that they do the same.

God says in the sacred Hadith:

“I swear by My Glory and Power that if a (child who is) disobedient to his parents comes to Me with all the good deeds of all the prophets; I will not accept them from him.”

We must teach them to filter through our children acquaintances and realize who will affect them positively.

Relay many stories of the Prophet and his companions encouraging them to become their role models.

Furthermore we must let them know we trust them and that includes with their beloved technological devices, and do our best to get involved. Unfortunately and often with the fast rate the world is going this duty is neglected. Remember though if we have no time for our children we should not complain when our children have no time for us when we are old. 

The Quran reads:

{If We grant long life to any, We cause him to be reversed in nature.} (36:68)

In conclusion, it is necessary in this day and age we understand and intelligently address our children acknowledging their want for privacy and trust which of course they must have earned.

For all involved to be happy we must understand that rules should be agreed upon, and not imposed.

 

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