Parenting is _________. You fill in the blank. It is so many things. It is an adventure with no shortage of ups and downs. I am sure we have felt at times proud and accomplished and then just as quickly felt embarrassed and insecure. These beautiful children God has entrusted to our care lead lives that are also filled with adventure and with healthy doses of curiosity.
Screen time: less is more
This year, we have been reading Screen-Smart Parenting in our homes and coming together to discuss its content together as parents. Our children have access to so much now and the book is encouraging us all to be good gatekeepers so that our children do not develop unhealthy habits and behaviors that the Devil longs to exploit. The digital devises in our homes and that many of our children possess provide opportunities for growth, learning and connection. Here are some tips that the book gives for healthy homes and habits:
1. No TV in the bedroom.
2. No background TV in the home.
3. Turn off devices at least 30 minutes prior to bedtime.
4. Teach your children to ask permission to use technology. Make technology a privilege, not a right.
5. Download/buy games and apps yourself, don’t let children do so.
6. Oversee YouTube. Tell your children to report any inappropriate games/sites/social networks to you.
7.Keep family computers/devices in as public a space as possible.
8. Don’t permit technology use during meals.
9. Designate screen-free times for the entire family.
Smartphones: you need complete access
Our children need help with time management online and offline. They need protected study and sleep time. They need coaching on how to use good judgment online, with sticky and uncomfortable situations online.
If your child has a smartphone:
10. Parents, you should know all their passwords.
11. Start with having all texts come to your devices.
12. Hold the phone when your child is sleeping (set up a nighttime charging station in a common room).
13. Encourage selfies in moderation.
Most of all, our children need for us as their parents to be good digital role models for them. Model that we can be engaged and present with our children without digital technology.
We are now reading the last section of the book, Part 3. In it, the author Dr. Jodi Gold walks readers through the development of a Family Digital Technology Agreement. Each will look different but it will help shape the healthy practices you commit to as a family. I am really looking forward to completing this for our own home!
Technology: the Devil wants it for his ends
Ultimately, we understand that this world is God’s and He made it good. We believe that there is not one square inch of God’s world that doesn’t have his mark and stamp as creator – and ultimate redeemer. Satan is not a creator. He is merely creative in how he has distorted and twisted what God has made.
Technology is a gift. It is good – and we see and experience its benefits all around us. But it is also something that needs boundaries and limits in order for us not to fall into traps of unhealthy habits and behaviors that the Devil has set up to exploit.
This is good, hard work, parents. But it is important. And you are not alone!
May God continue to give us courage and grace and wisdom as we raise up a generation of young people to know, love and serve Him. To His glory!
Randy Moes is a high school principal at Calvin Christian School in South Holland, Illinois