Technology is not the problem — it's parenting. I don't hate cell phones or technology. My two daughters have had our hand-me-down iPhones since birth. That said, my wife and I want the satisfaction of looking back one day and finding that we raised well-adjusted daughters who look at fellow, hurting humans with in-the-eye empathy.
Here are three reminders for leading your family past the digital generation.
REMINDER 1: Electronics have an off button. Use it.
Don't be the parent who doesn't discern when to disconnect from technology and connect with family. Confession: I have slept with my iPhone since 2008. It is said that 68 percent of smartphone owners sleep with their phone. But there are appropriate times for disconnecting. We must discern when and when not to use our devices.
Tip: Sit down with your spouse and discuss how your family is connecting or not connecting. Are you having family dinner daily or weekly? Try making a family rule like "no electronics at the dinner table."
REMINDER 2: Use electronics to connect with your child.
Your child will think normal is whatever you do with your phone, laptop, or TV. Scary? Yes! If your child sees you on your phone all the time, he will think that is normal. Let's not make that normal. Let's manage our use of electronics by using them to connect with our children.
Tip: Don't just play a game — talk about it. Is there a story line worth discussing? Ask your child: what's your favorite part about this game? Is it the graphics — the characters? What's the goal of the game? Also, riding in the car is a great time to talk about "the why" behind the games. Do this for movies and TV too. Communicating and being genuinely interested is a vital way of teaching your child, by example, how to be human.
REMINDER 3: You're the parent.
The late Steve Jobs had a philosophy at Apple (I know — I was trained as an Apple employee!). Jobs often said at conferences, "Technology alone is not enough. It's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yield the result that makes our heart sing." Read this carefully: "makes our heart sing." While Jobs' point was something else, understand that technology can and often does speak to our heart. We do well to exercise restraint.
For our children, we must exercise discipline so as to teach them right from wrong.
Tip: From game ratings to TV advertisements (and don't even get me started on in-app advertisements on mobile devices) we must be vigilant. It's our job to study whatever comes into our home. From parental controls to security and location services, it's your job to protect your child from seeing things he shouldn't. We don't allow YouTube or Google search from mobile devices, only from the family desktop.
C.S Lewis wrote in The Screwtape Letters, "It is funny how mortals always picture us [demons] as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out." The Devil doesn't necessarily rest in a Google image search, although often he does. The temptation is in replacing family connection with technology. As parents we would do well to understand that just like money, technology isn't inherently evil — it is the heart of the user that is. Parenting with this in mind requires we see past the digital revolution and into a wholly different kingdom.
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This article is courtesy of ParentLife Magazine.