Technology dependency in today’s culture is obvious; but, is technology effecting our families more negatively than positively? In all my time in working with families, I perceive that the answer is an emphatic “YES!”
With this in mind, how does a parent address the technology use in the home? This week I give you 10 tips that will help address these issues.
1. Be Alert:
Be alert. Watch, listen, learn, and engage with your kids. When your kids are engaging in video games, watching TV, or engaging in some other digital activity–use these times as teachable moments. Come to grips with the fact that neither you, nor your kids, are immune to technology’s ability to entice. Even King David violated every one of the Ten Commandments when he sinned with Bathsheba; because, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The digital world has the capability to destroy you and your family. It has the power to actually re-wire your brain. You or your kids are not above abusing yourselves or someone else with technology. Don’t assume your kids are always going to make the right choices when using technology.
2. Create a Safe Environment:
Create a home environment that makes it easy for your kids to share their hearts‘ desires, concerns, apprehensions, fears, temptations, and experiences in all areas of their technological experience–even their mistakes. They must know it’s safe to discuss these things with you–and do it regularly.
3. Establish Media Habits:
Establish good media habits. Lead the way. Change your attitude to align with Christ’s attitude toward media in your home; then, model it before your kids. Kids are much more likely to acquire appetites for what they are often being exposed to. Media should be a privilege instead of a constant activity that is simply taken for granted. Have your kids get into the habit of asking permission to use anything with a screen or keyboard, while in your house. Consider a ban on headphones in your home. Unfortunately, sleepovers are probably a thing of the past. Remember, one click could change your child’s life forever.
4. Remember Accountability:
Attach all media to a system of accountability. Location is everything. Keep it in a common area. Never allow a computer or a television in your child’s room. Have filters for everything. Know all their passwords and codes. Snoop often, and check history often too–it’s just good parenting in the twenty-first-century. Do your best to make media use a family affair. Consider media and digital fasts as a family. Consider having a time when all technology is checked in and locked up each night. Have each sibling monitor and hold one another accountable. Allow an outside objective source to review and critique your family’s media habits. This could be a pastor, family member, or trusted friend.
5. Get on a Media Diet:
Determine a media diet and stick to it. Only you will know that balance. Allow your kids to help make it. They will often be stricter on themselves than you will be on them. Allow your kids a cell phone that is nothing more than a phone. Limit leaving your kids alone. When you must, have a system that locks everything but their phone.
6. Recognize the Warning Signs:
Is your child tired in the morning, because he’s up all night? Has he lost his appetite for things he normally loves? Is he withdrawn from the family? Is he irritable, defensive, and touchy when asked about his computer habits? Does the screen on the computer seem to suddenly change often as you walk by him? Remember, you could be a foot away and never know what he’s viewing.
7. Get the Church Involved:
Encourage media literacy and accountability in your church, social club, and with your friends. This fosters the authoritative community that encourages accountability and standards that transcends your home, making your community a more trustworthy environment.
8. Develop Media Habits:
Be proactive in encouraging good wholesome media habits. There are many websites like www.pluggedin.com and others that can help families navigate the sea of entertainment alternatives. Instead of telling our kids what they can’t be exposed to, give them a number of healthy options for which they can be exposed. This will train their appetites for more wholesome entertainment.
9. Find Alternative Entertainment:
Digital entertainment isn’t the only option. Sports, hobbies, board games, and books are just a few of the myriad of non-techno activities that kids can rebuild and refresh their minds and bodies with. Steer them toward balance in their lives.
10. Turn it Off:
It’s quite simple really. Just turn off the media every now and again. In fact designate one night a week, or so, where all media is off for the entire day.
What are some rules or boundaries you use in your home in respect to technology use?