Parents may want to limit children’s tech use — and definitely their own


February 6, 2019

Practically everyone these days is concerned, if not annoyed, by the way young people seem to be addicted to technology.

Research shows that parents feel it’s harder than ever to raise children due to the pervasiveness of social media, gadgets and games of all sorts.

But could it be that when it comes to technology, adults are merely casting the first stone?

“This is a huge issue,” said Andy Crouch, author of “The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place.”

“People are worried about children on devices, but I worry about parents on devices — and so do kids,” he said.

When asked, children often tell researchers they wish their parents spent less time on phones and more time engaging with them, Crouch said.

It can send powerful, unhealthy messages to youth.

“Ultimately it’s about us, the adults, and how we choose to use these things.”

Providing practical solutions to the challenges posed by technology is the goal of The Tech-Wise Family Challenge, a 21-day online program for individuals and families.

The plan includes daily e-mail exercises on how to improve awareness around technology habits and how to be more intentional in using phones, tablets and other devices in ways that contribute to building character and relationships, Crouch said.

“This is not a 21-day fast from all screens,” he added. “It focuses on how technology changes us and asks us what we want our family to be.”

Statistics provided by Barna suggest there may be plenty of demand for some kind of thoughtful approach to the rapid spread of technology.

The organization found that 46 percent of parents surveyed said phones or other devices “always” or “sometimes” disrupt family meals.

Approximately 9 of every 10 American adults and teens have smartphones. Sixty percent of U.S. adults say they never step away from social media, according to Barna Research.

Devices have become so prevalent and have made most tasks so easy that children are not learning a lot of basic life skills anymore, Crouch said.

“These devices appeal to our appetites, to the most basic things we want, to our sense of belonging, satisfaction and fulfilment,” Crouch said.

Tools and instruments require the development of wisdom and training to use effectively.

“Devices are not good for developing wisdom and courage,” he said. “What we need to do is turn our devices into instruments by using them for a purpose, so they can help us develop.”

A smartphone can be used to play games, or it can be used for academic and intellectual development.

Faith and spirituality can also be hindered or furthered by technology, Crouch said.

A parallel is apparent in the Garden, when Adam and Eve chose the route of instant knowledge.

“That’s the basic promise of devices,” he said. “Without you having to change and grow or submit, you’ll have what you want.”

Preoccupation with devices also diminishes time and attention from Christians’ ability to love their neighbors as themselves.

For individuals and families to buck those trends requires seeing how technology is — and should be — operating in their lives.

It might require not handing a screen to comfort a crying child or mom and dad not keeping smartphones at the dinner table.

“We have to choose,” Crouch said. “We have to train ourselves to make harder, better choices.” (BNG)

To read more about kids and smartphones in this month’s Faith and Family, click here.

And don’t forget to read our media review of “Social Animals,” a documentary about growing up on Instagram.

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