US (MNN) — According to the United Nations, 3.2 billion people use the internet today, which is about 43 percent of the global population.
The internet’s use has grown phenomenally and has become an integral part of how we learn and advance technology.
Through their Laptops for Educational Access Program (LEAP), Tent Schools International is providing laptops for refugee families that have come to the US so they can do just that.
“We work with refugee settlement agencies to identify families who are recent arrivals or who have been here [in the US] a bit, but are still working with these settlement agencies to provide a laptop in their home so that their children can take advantage of what is needed on the internet for their educational purposes,” Tent School’s Dale Dieleman says.
These laptops provide children and even their parents with opportunities to learn more about technology, which is vital in careers and school.
“Technology is here, the children really need to be tech savvy in this day in age, particularly as they’re going forward with academic and career options. So, you have to have technology in your resume and things like that that you know how to use these things,” Dieleman says.
But while the internet provides a world of knowledge, Dieleman warns there are things to watch out for too, including bad sites and predators that pull kids away from Jesus.
Tent Schools is informing parents who receive laptops about internet safety so they can help guide their children and protect them as they use the internet.
“One of the things in terms of for parents especially, is to help their children to use the internet safely. And we are not of the view that the internet is bad or technology should not be used, but we do advise such basic things as telling families that you really need to watch your children’s access.”
Tent Schools is providing parents with guidebooks that share tips on internet safety.
It covers the importance of changing passwords, turning off location settings so predators cannot see where children are, being wary of live streaming, and more. Because the internet is constantly changing, Tent Schools’ guidebook is continually updated so it will be as current as possible.
This not only protects kids mentally and physically, but “that helps the children in their growing up, helps them to become responsible, and also protects them from some evildoers who want to access through the technology and into the lives of their children,” Dieleman says.
Time Spent on Technology
Furthermore, Tent Schools is also encouraging families to monitor how much time they’re using on the internet because it can affect family relations altogether.
“There have been survey[s] done about how many families are sitting around the dinner table are spending more time checking their emails and their iPhones and things like that and texting instead of having a decent conversation around the dinner table if that is even happening these days.”
Dieleman notes work can absorb parents’ lives and they may focus too much on their technology than on their children. This is something kids see and will often reciprocate.
“What we’re really encouraging is some downtime, some limiting of screen time as they say for families to regulate themselves, including parents, because kids are watching parents and how they’re using technology and interrupting the flow of conversation that they would have with the child.”
Please pray for refugee families and children as they learn about the importance of internet safety and time spent on technology. Pray they will gain understanding and wisdom and avoid bad sites.
For more information on Tent Schools’ LEAP program, click here.