I recently had the opportunity to lead a workshop titled, “Proactive Parenting & Technology” with a group of parents, ministry leaders, and others interested in how to proactively make decisions regarding technology use that facilitates the healthy growth and development of the children in their lives. However, before diving into the topic, we spent time reflecting on how having the opportunity to parent and invest in the lives of children and adolescents is both a great gift and responsibility. Scripture states the following: “Children are a blessing and a gift from the Lord” (Psalm 127:3, CEV). With this blessing comes the responsibility of following the guidance in Proverbs 22:6 to “Train up a child in the way he should go…” (ESV). This should not be done in a spirit of legalism, rather out of love, healthy boundaries, and modeling.
I’ve included a few suggestions for boundaries below (Pinola, 2018):
Model healthy technology use (pretty convicting for all of us!).
For children under two, no screen time. This is a key season in a child’s life in which much development happens that can be negatively impacted by too much screen time. It is much healthier for a child to play with a ball or even a spoon and bowl than to watch a TV show, even if it seems educational. The American Academy of Pediatrics (2016) provides specific recommended guidelines that are worth reviewing and implementing.
For younger children, make sure you’re monitoring content. If your child wants to watch a show like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (a favorite of my three-year-old), watch with him/her and engage. If the characters are counting to ten, count with them and encourage your child to do the same.
Establish time restrictions for school age children.
Monitor content. Addictions can be traced back to a single exposure of pornography.
Be intentional about privacy and safety (i.e. child accounts, location of computers and screens, etc.).
Talk about what kids are viewing/engaged in and how it affects them. As your child develops, the goal is to encourage them to take ownership for their choices and the consequences of their choices in all areas, including screen time and technology use. Even technology use is an opportunity to glorify God! It is also an opportunity to get to know your child better!
Here are some helpful resources:
Family Media Plan (https://www.healthychildren.org/English/media/Pages/default.aspx#home)
Circle with Disney (https://meetcircle.com/)
Protect Young Minds (https://protectyoungminds.org/prepare/)
Parental Controls (Microsoft Family or Parental Controls)
Family Online Safety Institute (https://www.fosi.org/)
International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) (https://www.globalratings.com/)
Common Sense Media (commonsensemedia.org)
Technology is a gift when used wisely. It can facilitate learning and growth. However, it can also be addictive and dangerous. As a parent, caregiver, or person who loves and invests in children, it is important to be informed and proactive, even if you experience resistance.
If you’re interested in learning more, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com. We would be happy to share the slides from the presentation.
Pinola, M. (2018, September 1). How (and When) to Limit Kids' Tech Use. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/guides/smarterliving/family-technology
Written by Hannah Wildasin, M.A.