What parent hasn’t used a screen at some point to act as a babysitter while they attempt to get a few things done? I must say, I’ve done it and, early on, it was actually a part of my routine. Parenting is hard work, and there never seems to be enough time to get everything done that needs to get done. But what is the danger in technology and screen time for our kiddos? What is all the hype — is it just that, hype?
There is quite a bit of data that has been collected in scientific circles about technology’s impact. Pick up any book on technology and parenting, and you’ll get a weighty dose of the research. Sure, there are physiological dangers, like the way it disrupts sleep in teens or adults who crave the “blue light” late into the night, or creates cravings and addictions for adrenaline created by our experiences while watching a screen. But the way technology is impacting us is even more central to what it means to be created in the image of our creative God. There is a way that we can simply take in the data, relay the facts and pragmatically accomplish the tasks before us but completely miss the opportunities to grow and mature — let alone passing that on to the next generation.
In 2008, Walt Disney released the movie Wall-E. Have you seen it? At first it’s a pretty slow-moving movie that follows around this robot, Wall-E, who has one simple yet very lonesome task of cleaning up the earth from man’s consumeristic, leftover trash. In the process of Wall-E’s adventure he rescues the human race from a slavish, robotic existence where everyone is glued to their screens having exchanged reality for the virtual reality found through technology. In the slow drift, the people had not realized that the “greatness” of technology was robbing them of what it meant to be truly human. Although the message was pretty direct and almost humorous at times, there seems to be something here that we need to be aware of. In the movie, everyone’s comfort and happiness became the end product, but was hollow and lacking. They were missing out on what they themselves had actually created, accomplished and experienced in relationship to one another.
It’s a sobering thought to stop and think about the way we try and make things easier, without thinking about what we’re losing in exchange. Something as simple as making a meal together offers ample opportunity to reinforce a biblical model of serving others —compared with just heating something up. Most of life is learned in the brief moments, ripe with opportunity, if we seek them out. This seemed to be the way that Jesus passed on His instruction to the disciples, within the regular rhythms of life. Jesus regularly used the things around them, as they walked and talked, as illustrations from which to glean and pass on wisdom and truth. These moments are vital to parenting too, and though it takes more effort to include our kids in whatever tasks we have before us, they are the best opportunities to pass on wisdom along the way.
Another alarming fact about technology is the way it bolsters our already engrained nature to center the universe on self. Screens have streamlined information to our fingertips. They have given us access to options beyond abundance based on any perspective you may seek to affirm, with myself as the ultimate authority. If that sounds like a stretch — believe me, I was shrugging off the “hype” — read Kathy Koch’s book, Teens and Screens. She gives lies that technology reinforces within our kids, stemming from self as the ultimate authority and the dangers of simply having access to too many options.
Another great resource is Andy Crouch’s book, The Tech-Wise Family. He gives a number of ways to create “nudges” toward creativity and building into the regular rhythms of family life. All the while, he’s not saying that we need to become “amish” in regard to technology — there are ways that we need to formulate healthy boundaries and build relational elements around our use of technology. I encourage you to check it out in order to see more ways that you can do that as a family.
As a parent, one of the greatest things we share with our kids is the wisdom that God’s Word provides. The book of Proverbs is filled with references to wisdom being all around us, in the simple moments of our lives (Proverbs 8 is an entire chapter doing just that). Technology best serves us as a means of building into greater community with others, not taking us away from it. My hope for all of us is to better create the “nudges” in our daily routines that bring us closer together and trust God to empower us to buy up the little moments along the way to pass on His Word to the next generation. May you be encouraged to pull your little ones closer into the work that is before you, and see God work in those little moments along the way. Blessings to you and your family!
Have a Ball at Christ Chapel’s Playgrounds
Did you know Christ Chapel’s playgrounds are open during the week? Invite a friend and bring all the kids for a happy summer outing. For more info in the playgrounds, click here.
Fort Worth Campus Hours: Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
West Campus Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.