The family firewall: Protecting young people in the information age
In a chaotic world engrossed in a sea of pop culture, fast-moving technology, diversity in beliefs and ever-increasing online social injustices, the young generation can easily lose its place and role in the society. Unlike the past where children and the youth were influenced by their peers at school and the neighborhood, today this neighborhood could be a continent away thanks to technology.
The amount of unfiltered information available to this vulnerable generation to act on is simply overwhelming and the result has been detrimental. Young people have been exposed to morally eroding information, lured into terrorist activities, induced into suicidal thoughts by online games, introduced to online pornography and prostitution, negatively stereotyped and introduced to tribal and racial hatred on social media.
The question that we ask is: how do we defend this vulnerable generation from these threats? By their very nature, these emerging threats attack the moral and spiritual formation of young people, leading to change in values and behavior. Young people need strong spiritual and moral formation to counter these concerns. They need to grow in virtue, reach human maturity and discern the divine will for their life. St. Josemaria teaches us that the first principle of formation is the family, and parents are the principal educators of their children and should lead by example. He noted that one cannot give what he/she does not have, and he envisioned parents as educators who reinforce the role of the family as the basis of society.
The only way that the moral values of the future generation can be protected in the face of an increasingly multicultural, free global village is by strengthening the family. It is within the family that children learn how to use their freedom well. St. Josemaria’s vision of education was that it would be a critical tool in helping young people to achieve authentic humanity by learning to make good use of their freedom; which is particularly important in our modern information world. Young people need to learn to identify and say NO to negative influence and to struggle to overcome life’s challenges in the pursuit of their dreams. Interestingly, St. Josemaria opines that young people should be left to discover life’s values alone instead of others imposing their values on them. However, he noted that it is very difficult for people to discover and pursue these values without guidance towards them. This is where parental guidance comes in.
In conclusion, parental guidance and education is crucial in the future of the young generation in the current information global village. As St. Josemaria clearly pointed out, the family plays a critical role in the moral and spiritual formation of young people. This can only be achieved within strong and well-formed families. As the world invests in young people for future leadership, special focus should be on building strong families.
This article was written by Irene Kanario who was 4th in the just concluded blog writing competition.
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