4 Easy Ways Parents Can Use the Internet to Grow Giving Hearts

When More is Not EnoughToday I’m happy to share this guest post from author Amy L. Sullivan! Her book “When More is Not Enough: How to Stop Giving Your Kids What They Want and Give Them What They Need” releases today. Be sure to check it out – seriously, who doesn’t need a book with that title? 

My daughter is 11, and last year our girl saved money from her birthday and Christmas to buy herself an iPod.

My husband and I blocked the poor girl from many of the capabilities which make the iPod fantastic (Awwww, mom! Everyone has texting!), but she has been given the ability to take photos, play games, watch TV shows, and s-l-o-w-l-y gain supervised access to the online word.

Giving an 11-year-old online access makes me feel queasy – I would much rather see my girl pedaling her bike, making daisy necklaces, and jamming out on a Sony Walkman. But as a good friend reminded me, “For crying out loud, Amy, it’s not 1987. Screen time is a part of life, even for preschoolers!”

I know my friend is right, but I want our daughter to utilize the Internet for more than selfies and YouTube videos. I want her to see the ways people can use the Internet for good. I want to show her that even our Internet use can be a way to serve others and glorify God.

Here are four fun ways our family has discovered to do both!

 

1. Play games for good.

Sites such as FreeRice.com and Zynga.org offer games which encourage users to do more than just sit mindlessly and play.

FreeRice.com is a nonprofit website created by the United Nations Food Programme. While players participate in trivia-like quizzes in math, grammar, vocabulary, Spanish, and a variety of other subjects, they also earn rice to give to hungry people for free.

Zynga.org is also a nonprofit organization that believes gaming and the people who play games can make a positive impact on the world. Since 2009, Zynga has donated over 20 billion dollars to over 50 nonprofits. Zynga raises money and awareness by hosting campaigns. Campaigns are designed to educate players and generate money.

 

2. Take photos for good.

Donate a Photo is an app created by Johnson & Johnson which allows users to take, edit, share, and donate photos. For each photo donated, Johnson & Johnson will give $1.00 to a predetermined cause of the user’s choice.  Photos need not be artsy, and the gallery contains photos of rainbows, golden retrievers, and everything in between.

 

3. Get involved in already established campaigns.

GenerationOn encourages kids, teens, parents, educators, and organizations to make a difference in the world by establishing kid-friendly campaigns and sharing stories about young people who are shaking things up around the word.

 

4. Watch a video.

Today, everyone (this includes the makers of cereal, batteries, and even butter!) has websites and social media outlets. Find an organization your family already supports or hunt around and find something new, and watch their promotional videos. These videos tell stories of the mission behind the companies.

iLikeGiving and Compassion International are two of our favorite places to view videos!

 

If you’re interested in more fun and practical ways to get your family thinking about serving others, please check out my new book, When More is Not Enough.

When More is Not Enough explores the idea of more in a different way. It gently nudges families to think about “more” in terms of generosity:  being more generous with prayer, time, strangers, talents, and the same kind of love Christ showed us.

Your turn. I’d love to hear about the ways you’ve used the Internet for good in your home. Go!

Amy L. SullivanAbout Amy: For the past two years, Amy L. Sullivan looked harder, loved stronger, and discovered more by fixing her gaze on something other than the person staring back at her in the mirror. Amy writes for oodles of print and online publications and loves speaking with groups of any size. Find her on her website, join her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter

3 Comments

  1. Kirsten on September 22, 2014 at 3:40 AM

    I’m semi-ashamed to say my daughter has an iPad, but it was basically a necessity (for mom), given our long commute. I couldn’t take the screaming for an hour each day. She’s much better now about the commute and she has a few Bibke-related kids apps which she loves. We’ve started introducing Veggie Tales so there’s that. Her iPad doesn’t have a data plan, and she obviously doesn’t know how to use the internet at 4 yrs old, but I’ve already been worried about that happening soon. This gives me food for thought, preparing for that day. I need to be proactive and introduce fun (but good, purposeful) sites to her before she starts finding things on her own.



    • Amy L. Sullivan on September 22, 2014 at 8:42 AM

      Kristen,
      My daughter and I used to have a long commute too! I feel you. There’s nothing worse than starting out the day with some good screaming.

      I used to deal with the guilt surrounding technology, but this year I stopped trying to battle it, as much, and instead focused on some of the good. It’s been fun trying out different positive activities with my girls online. I try to think of it as modeling appropriate internet behavior. Although I am not going to lie, I do miss the Sony Walkman years!

      Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment.



  2. Debra Seiling on September 25, 2014 at 5:23 PM

    Thanks for this article. I get really concerned about so many negative influences on the internet for children. I like the way you focused on the positive ones.