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Parenting Perspective: Technology

Ugh. Parenting and technology. What in the world do we do?


That's what I hear all the parents around me saying. Okay. Maybe not all of them. Some parents appear to have just given up, and technology is parenting their kids. But MOST of the parents I know are struggling to figure out what to do.


Technology is addictive. It changes the way our brains work, and the messages we're hearing online are brain-washing us. It's a really uncomfortable truth, and somehow we have to figure out what to do.


It's like cigarettes, back when people first discovered how bad they were for our health! We learned they were terrible for us, but it took a long time for society to catch up because everyone was SO addicted.


As Christians, parenting today, we really have to think about what technology is doing to our minds. Do we want to be conditioned to think the way TikTok and Reels tells us? Do we want to base life-changing decisions on unreliable news sources?


This is our life we're talking about here. Would you rather your children learn to create things that make the world a better place, or consume mass amounts of content created by bots in some foreign country that hates the USA?


Our family is dealing with these questions on multiple levels. Technology can't be ignored, so how do we learn to use it wisely in our parenting without allowing it to consume us? How to do reach a generation of children riddled with anxiety who can't talk to adults or look them in the eye?


I've seen this A LOT subbing in our public school. In my role as a teacher, I say hello to a child and they either completely ignore me or glance at me quickly and sort of scurry away like I'm a weirdo for speaking to them.


Children's brains don't stop developing until they're in their mid-twenties. I'm pretty sure my brain took a lot longer than that! What should we fill their minds with during these critical years?


We live in a different world now and it's hard to send our kids outside to play for hours like my parents did. Most people don't live in a small town where we all basically know one another and watch out for each others' kids, or live on a farm with plenty of space to roam. All I know to say is we ALL need fresh air and exercise, so maybe the whole family needs to go outside and play for hours?


I can't tell you what the right answers are for your family, but I'll share a brief synopsis of what we're doing for our family. We take regular media breaks, sometimes for a month at a time. If our kids are fighting a lot, screens are off.


We're delaying getting phones for our children for as long as possible, and strongly considering spending more money on flip phones when we do. (More money!? Yes, the phone companies are now charging more for less technology. Think they want us addicted???)


Our kids have tablets with Netflix on them, but they're only allowed to watch them in common areas. I do random checks to see what they're watching. We have strict parameters in place regarding cultural/moral topics on shows.


My 10-year-old is slightly obsessed with Minecraft. He's only allowed to play with people he knows in real life. Our oldest is in middle school this year, and because there's a lot more freedom there, we got her a smart watch. It's a good way to keep in touch with her, and she can only connect with people we approve.


We've provided as many non-technology things for them to do as we can afford and have space for. We want our house to be the fun house, so we encourage them to invite their friends over. We have good snacks and their friends know where to find them. Building good relationships is one of the best ways I know of to combat technology addiction!


Building good relationships is THE KEY to combat technology addiction.


Good relationships? Seriously? YES.


When I was in high school, there was this kid who was a little different. Smart, interesting, and funny - but different. He lived way out in the country, but a whole bunch of us would regularly go out there to hang out.


He had a pool with a pool house, complete with games, comfy seats, a large TV, a sound system, and his own snack bar. His parents knew where he was, who his friends were, and that he was safe. Maybe he played video games after school, but we didn't watch TV when I was there.


We were too busy having fun.


If kids are engaged with their friends doing something interesting, they have a lot less interest in their phones. If they have real friendships with real people, the need to impress anyone on the internet will diminish. This may mean a significant investment for you, like inviting friends to go with you to a concert you pay for, or throwing a big pizza party.


I'm not saying to throw money at the problem, but get the ball rolling and capture their attention. It might take an attention-getting act that makes a big splash. Think about what you already have access to, think creatively, but do SOMETHING to get them actually living their lives.


Don't miss out on the basic building blocks of childhood in favor of your kids sitting in a dark room holding a game controller, or in front of a TV with a phone in their hands. Life is waiting to be LIVED. Go outside and make memories, look around and decide what you think for yourself, and grow some flowers or create something productive.


Don't live in comfortable misery, allowing technology to steal your life away from you and your children. Most of us can't afford the luxury of a pool house, but we can think creatively about how to provide a safe space for our kids and their friends to hang out. We can encourage good friendships that take up their time, keeping their eyes up and out instead of staring down at a screen.


What are YOU doing about technology addiction in your family?


Love,

Kimberly



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The ultimate dichotomy - writing about technology addiction on the internet!

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