A while ago, I was headed out to the grocery store and I was amazed at something I saw. At every single bus stop I passed in my neighborhood, literally every child had his or her head down, staring at a phone. Some had earbuds in, I’m assuming to listen to music. But overall, everyone was glued to their phones. Not looking up, not looking around; simply fixated on their phones. By the way, some of these children appeared really young to me, 7 or 8 years old perhaps.
Now as a parent, the first thing that went through my mind was, “Wow! These kids could easily get snatched up by someone. They have absolutely no clue what’s going on around them!” My next thought was, “Well, this is just the age we’re living in. Everyone is attached to their phones.” Either way you cut it, I’m a believer that you really can have too much of a good thing. For every great thing we can get by way of a cell phone or tablet, there are dozens of things that are distracting and even sinful. As parents, we should be the judge of how much technology our children can handle.
In our home, we have drawn some fairly hard lines on technology, particularly for our oldest, child who is 12. She has access to her own Kindle tablet, but she has to let us know when she’s using it. We put all the games and apps on for her; she is not allowed to download games on her own. There are a few educational games that we have on our computer. She is able to play those games, again, with our permission. Our daughter does not own her own cell phone, although, we may be getting closer to allowing her to have a basic phone without all the bells and whistles.
I’m sure for some this may seem a bit overbearing or restricting, but there really isn’t, in my mind, any reason for our children to have daily, unrestricted access to the internet, games, apps, etc. The limited use that our children do have is enough to keep them up to speed with the technological advances of our culture, without leaving the floodgates open for any type of harmful influences.
Part of what we do as Christian parents is to help guide our children into wisdom and maturity. The question that we ask in our home when it comes to the internet, TV and games, is “Will this help our children grow in such a way that draws them closer to God?” We’ve realized after much prayer and many discussions that access to unfettered technology will likely not draw our children closer to Christ. There are obvious things that could lead them astray--profanity, sexually explicit and/or violent imagery. But on a very basic level, much of what our cell phones and tablets do, is keep us distracted and consumed with ourselves and the world. There are so many amazing and wonderful things to see and do in this world, but we won’t see them if we’re attached to a device everyday.
Does the use of video games, phones and tablets in your home take up more time than reading together, having meaningful conversations and getting out and seeing the world? Here’s another question for you (one that I thought of recently), when you’re trying to get your child’s attention, do you have to wait for them to detach themselves from whatever they’re watching on a gadget before they even look at you? Prayerfully consider any changes you might need to make for your home to balance your family’s use of technology. Whatever you do, don’t allow an electronic device to have more influence over your child’s life than you.