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Protecting our children from the electronic tsunami

Mar 17th, 2009 by Dr. Elia | 0

Growing up in Greece, a place known as the “cradle of western civilization” and the “birthplace of democracy,” was quite an experience. Our family was very traditional: Dad was the provider, and Mom took care of the children and the home.

But when it came to family discussions, we all had an opportunity to share our thoughts. I really appreciated that, especially since I was the youngest. It felt very “democratic.”

Raising our own family here in the United States, my wife and I decided to follow the same successful model with one major exception: electronic media. When it comes to the Internet, text messaging, music, television, movies and all other aspects of electronic media, our family is not a democracy: it’s a dictatorship!

Now I say that with a little bit of a smile, but it would be highly irresponsible to allow our kids the “freedom” to choose whatever they want.

For the time being, we try to teach them correct principles and let them govern themselves, within the bounds of safety. As I’ve lectured to youths around the country on the dangers of the Internet, there’s always one common theme. The only “surfing” allowed is on a surfboard! Internet surfing is as dangerous as literally going surfing with a boogie board on the North Shore of Hawaii in the winter, when the waves grow to more than 30 feet. The likelihood of tragedy would be quite high, just like surfing the Internet without a specific purpose could be. Believe me, trouble will find you!

I actually love the Internet and all the information you can get on it. Just think of how easy it is to find church lessons, medical information, FHE lessons, music and so much more. Then add to it the instant availability of news, sports, weather, entertainment, music — the list is endless.

The sad news is that there’s such a dark side to the Internet as well: from the mildly inappropriate to the outright dark and evil. Everything you could think of, or worse, is available to us instantly.

As parents who love and care for the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being of our children, it is our stewardship and responsibility to protect them. Let there be no doubt that if we don’t, we will be held accountable from the very source who sent them to us: our Heavenly Father!

So how do we implement control, and still maintain a loving and open relationship with our children, who are sure to feel like we’re intruding upon their “electronic space?”

Surprisingly, allowing the children to participate in establishing the family rules and limits, helps the children to feel like they have some control, and makes them less likely to resent those rules. And usually, they choose reasonable and safe limits. It is in the enforcing of those rules that parents need to keep their eyes and ears open. Because of the addictive nature of electronic games, even though the children have set the limits, they rarely can be relied upon to follow them without adult supervision and intervention.

Monitoring e-mails, text messages, Internet site history and the like can only go so far. Putting the computer in a public place is the very least we must do. Giving our children a laptop to take to their bedrooms, behind closed doors, is akin to letting a drug dealer hang out with them and hoping that they won’t be exposed to drugs! Taking away cell phones (with texting privileges) and iPods at night is a helpful rule. But ultimately, listening to the promptings of the Spirit AND acting upon those promptings, however unpopular that might be, IS the most loving act we can engage in for our children.

We know our kids are exposed to all sorts of inappropriate communication at schools and other public settings — being in the world is an inevitable part of life on earth in the 21st century. What is not inevitable, however, is being willing to stay connected to the Spirit, as it leads and guides us in order to protect our treasures on earth: our children.

Dr. Elia Gourgouris is a nationally known speaker, relationship coach, and the president of With over 20 years of experience, he has inspired thousands of individuals and couples to find greater happiness and fulfillment, both in their careers and their personal lives. He holds a degree from UCLA and a Ph.D. in psychology. Dr. Gourgouris speaks to groups around the country regarding women’s issues, self esteem, communications skills, and relationships. He is also a favorite presenter at both BYU and BYU-ID Education Weeks, and Time Out for Women conferences. He is the author of “DTR: What You Need to Know Before You Get Married” and he has an upcoming CD entitled “The Multi-Platinum Marriage: Going from Just Surviving to Thriving!” He and his wife, Sona, live near Boulder, Colorado, with their children.

A Fellow Patriot

Jan 20th, 2009 by Dr. Elia | 0

Dear Dr. Elia,

I apologize that I am using this forum to comment on your article, I did not see a direct email via your blog, yet I felt inspired by your words and wanted to thank you, this historic morning, for waking me from the sleep of indifference.

I am a blessed and honored American. I have the privelege of looking over my shoulder to see my ancestors as the first pilgrims on the Mayflower, as front line-fighters in the Revolutionary war and among the budding nucleus of the restored Church of Jesus Christ. Yet, when I began to plan my day, watching the inauguration was not on my agenda…until I read your column. I took for granted and forgot ALL who had gone before me to ensure my perpetual peace and prosperity, this beautiful morning, two centuries later.

I appreciate you opening a window into “our” parallel childhood. In the 60’s and 70’s, while I unconsciously basked safely in SLC, UT, you felt exposed to the frightening thunder of war. I have never experienced a scenario of turmoil, until I read your words. You illuminated a new perspective by drawing the curtain of apathy, complacency and indifference and showing me how unique our democratic process is from one who grew up in another land. You reminded me of the significance of what was transpiring in my “Land of the Free,” another peaceful transition of power from old to new.

Immediately after reading your Mormon Times article, I turned on the T.V. and gathered my family to watch the inauguration. We stood as Obama was sworn in and pledged to give our all in his support. Your timely, inspired message alerted me to what was really important this morning. I felt united in hope with the millions of viewers who witnessed this landmark event. I have studied how other great civilizations fell from grace because of apathy, complacency and self-gratification–they forgot that the torch of freedom blazes from one generation to the next when the flames of freedom are stoked with awareness, gratitude and solemn commitment to pure principles. I felt the fire of freedom course through my tepid veins.

I have always been surrounded by people who grew-up just like me. What has interested me most about your talks and articles is that you offer a breath of fresh air on old subjects. I’d never realized what it would be like to have my father return unexpectedly from work to announce tanks in the streets, or to face the heartache of leaving my mother land to relocate on a new shore. Thank you for being the voice of expansiveness–for being a mind-opener–to show us new ways to look at our world. You’ve prompted me to appreciate life from this sacred vantage point. Since our country and our Church are now comprised of more citizens from foreign lands than who were born here, thank you for reminding us that we are all God’s beloved children and our dedication to truth make us great people and great nations.

With Renewed Remembrance,
A Fellow Patriot

A Fellow Patriot

Dear A Fellow Patriot,

Thank you for your kind words of support! This is the greatest country
and as united Americans we can accomplish anything!

Elia Gourgouris Ph.D.


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