In a social media-centered world, the smartphone has become a cultural rite of passage for kids. But is that rite all wrong? How can this generation of parents blaze a new trail to equip their kids to thrive in an ever-changing digital environment while steering clear of the dangers that lurk nearby?
Connect is a very relevant movie, and the time is perfect for this awesome and inspiring film! It focuses on technology and the smartphones of today. It is an incredible and terrific movie, dealing pointedly with today’s social media in a way that is non-judgmental but very insightful and helpful. Actor and evangelist Kirk Cameron (Fireproof), father of six, tells how his wife Chelsea decided to give each of their kids a smartphone on Mother’s Day. It is her practice to do something for her children on that day—something she knows they will relate to or like. Kirk decides to look into the effects of regular usage, and he consults several experts to see what they have to add to the subject. His concern was in reference to his kids receiving Facebook friend requests and their desire to add apps and to get more involved in social media.
He consults with a man named Tim Woda, a father of three, who wound up with a large phone bill before unlimited texting plans were offered. Tim shares that a man on Facebook solicited his son for pictures, and it became obvious that he knew where Tim’s son attended school. It turns out he was a predator, but through the cautious and smart responses of his father, the boy—also named Tim—was kept safe. The predator wound up going to prison for having contacted many others.
Kathy Koch, PhD, author of “Screens and Teens,” is another expert Kirk contacts. She shares the negative effects that technology can have if left unchecked. She says that kids can feel they are their own authority due to the many choices and options they have with social media, including the ability to get something instantly. She teaches they must be taught and reminded that God is the authority and should be the central focus of their lives. She admonishes parents not to be mentally absent when it comes to the lives of their children. A few kids share the struggles they have had, including pornography and bullying from other students at school. Kirk also speaks with a neurosurgeon named Dr. Ian Armstrong, who explains the teen years and how kids, due to hormones, begin to process information differently than their younger selves.
Kirk speaks with his friend, Mark Gregston, who founded and runs the Heartlight Ministries ranch in Texas—an “amazing place” according to Kirk. Kids stay for a year and work with therapists and counselors. Gregston is himself an amazing person, realistically sharing his insight that kids move in their own direction and make independent choices by the time they reach ages 12 or 13. He says parents have to let them make some decisions on their own, realizing there are consequences; these very consequences often reinforce that the parents’ advice was sound and true. He compares it to allowing kids to get their driver’s license when they become of age: the thought of your child driving in a busy city may be scary, but as Gregston says, they actually do pretty well and learn. And so it is with allowing kids to make decisions regarding social media and other important decisions. He advises that if parents will talk to their kids, they will have a good chance to flourish—and also to make good decisions regarding whom they marry, and so forth.
This film tackles the possible pitfalls of modern technology and social media head-on. Pastor Ken Graves speaks to Kirk about the wrestling against spiritual powers in today’s world. Kirk concludes that, according to Proverbs 4:23, both adults and kids must guard their hearts, and if people look to God, that God is enough. This remarkable film should be seen by families everywhere! We are awarding it our Faith-Friendly Seal for ages 12+, due to the sophisticated themes of pornography and drugs. This is a wonderful film for sharing with your kids. Kirk Cameron has done families everywhere a great service by making this direct, honest, and uncompromising movie!