September 5, 2019 2:27 pm  |  Uncategorised, Academics, News

Many times as a principal I am asked “How do we make our kids put their devices down?” This can be a phone, tablet, or gaming device. I often wonder what our world would be like without these devices, oh wait… I know because I grew up without these devices.

As a kid, I played outside until my mother called me home. Most days, my mother knew which house we were playing at by the bicycles in the front yard. We played outside for hours, creative, imaginative play without the help of any devices, and I survived.

Technology is an amazing thing; we can track our food intake, order anything from Amazon, call or FaceTime a friend, store and retrieve notes, maintain a blog, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook all within seconds. Yet, in our fallen, broken, sinful world, we must recognize that we often misuse and overuse the gift of technology. We must be aware of our tendency to use technology to avoid what God has given us to do. “…Whatever you do, do it for the Glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31

Research shows that kids and teens, ages 8 to 18, spend an average of more than seven hours a day looking at screens. The new warning from the AHA recommends parents limit screen time for kids to a maximum of just two hours per day. For younger children, ages 2 to 5, the recommended limit is one hour per day.

The Common Sense Census: Media Use by Tweens and Teens identifies four main categories of screen time use.

  • Passive consumption: watching TV, reading, and listening to music
  • Interactive consumption: playing games and browsing the Internet
  • Communication: video-chatting and using social media
  • ​Content creation: using devices to make digital art or music

What does this say about our kids if we continue to allow this kind of distraction into their lives? We know it’s not good for them.  We want them to do different activities, yet we allow the screen time to creep into our lives and take over hours of our day.

Our oldest child is now 22, and for the first two years of his life we didn’t even own a TV. Fast forward to adding another child into the mix and voila, a TV for only educational and Christian videos, and then the screen time begins. We now have a 22-year-old and a 19-year-old who both have a screen at their fingertips.

Parents need to drastically cut the amount of screen time that kids are using. Screen time is a phenomenon our kids face that experts say drives our kids to distraction.  How do you as a parent limit screen time?

  • Talk to your kids about the dangers of too much screen time, such as obesity, brain development, and even behavioral problems. They need to be aware of all the issues with too much screen time.
  • Model healthy screen time yourself. As hard as it is to put your phone down, little eyes are watching you. Set aside time to unplug and enjoy your family.
  • Create some “technology-free zones” such as the dinner table, the car, or other family times.
  • Use parental controls.  Most cellular carriers have plans where parents can limit the amount of screen time during certain hours.
  • Have all electronics plugged into chargers away from kids at night. Set a time that all electronics are done for the night.
  • Most of all, encourage other activities such as games, playing outside, and just plain creative play, building a fort never gets old.

Used for good, we can absolutely manage technology and use it as a helpful tool!

About the author: Julia Shoemake is the Elementary Principal at First Baptist Academy