Have you seen the commercial about the little boy who has had one too many juice boxes, but refuses to go potty without his tablet? If you have, maybe you laughed like I did, and then realized how guilty you are of living a technology-dependent life and teaching your children to follow suit.
Technology is by no means something to fear. For a child, it can provide endless opportunities for education and can be used to teach kids to positively engage with one another and seek new information. But how much “screen time” is too much? Here are a few simple tips to help you teach your children to use an appropriate amount of technology:
1. Assess your situation.
Kids come through our carpool line daily watching videos on their iPads — even though their families only live ten minutes from our church. If your child’s first request when they get off the school bus or in the car is for technology, you may want to ask yourself if they are becoming too dependent. Take opportunities to talk to your children in the car or at the restaurant table and remember how important it is to teach them to communicate and behave appropriately in public. This may be a tough transition at first, but it will ultimately do wonders for your relationship.
2. Model appropriate technology use.
Does your child have to fight for your attention over your phone’s attention? How many times a day does your child see you check social media or send a text message? Does she pose for you just so you will put her on your Instagram? Just like most parents set times when kids cannot use technology, set times for yourself. Model appropriate use in simple ways like leaving your tablet in another room and never coming through the door after work on your phone. Show your kids that your family time is important to you and that technology doesn’t always have to be involved.
3. Teach your kids to depend on the Lord.
An important part of teaching your children what not to spend their time on is teaching them what to spend their time on. Children learn easily to turn to technology in boredom. Where will you teach them to turn when they are upset, confused, in need of guidance, or lonely? Setting aside time as a parent to meet with the Lord is the most important thing you can do. Not only will your child benefit from your relationship with the Lord, but when he sees you spend time in the Word, he will begin to understand it is important.
Laura Teague serves as a Regional Children’s Ministry Representative in Central Mississippi. She and her husband, Daniel, are passionate about investing in local churches through relationships. Laura has been working in children’s ministry since she was in college and is passionate about seeing kids come to know Christ and encouraging adults as they lead them there.