It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I was at McDonald’s eating breakfast with my family. I heard a mother telling about standing in line for a long time to get her child an iPad mini. She said, it was worth it because, “she loves it, and is on it all the time.”
To which I thought, she is going to love it, and she will be on it all the time if you let her! Apple hasn’t sold millions of iPads because they are no fun!
This Christmas millions of children and teens will get some type of electronic device. From the latest Xbox and PlayStation consoles to tablets. Smart phones are a popular gift as well.
I am surprised that many parents don’t consider limits on these devices.
Consider the Dangers:
- Your child can have unrestricted access to the internet. This opens up the great likelihood of them viewing pornography or being solicited by predators.
- They can use social media and be influenced by friends and others.
- Their mood and attitude can be affected by playing video games for hours.
- Their personal relationship skills can be affected.
- Their brain will be changed by constant media usage and even become addicted to it. Don’t believe me check out this article by Newsweek.
- They can miss out on many true joys in life like family, work, hobbies, physical activity, and God’s creation.
- They can take inappropriate pictures of themselves and others.
- They can watch and listen to movies and music which are harmful to their Christian faith.
- They can read inappropriate books and websites. See my post from earlier this year on this danger.
- They can spend money quickly for games, songs, and anything else they may want.
Consider your Rules:
- If you are a parent with any electronic media in your home you must consider your guidelines and rules. This should be determined by the age of the children and your aims and desires for their lives.
- How much time per day will you allow them to use the device?
- How many hours per day will you allow screen time in general? Do you leave your TV running all day and what are the kids picking up from it? Do they have a TV in their bedroom and what are they watching?
- Are electronic devices going to be used as a reward? Some parents let children earn time on devices by good behavior.
- How are you going to teach your children to be self-disciplined with electronic media? Most adults struggle with this one. I certainly do and often fail. I am constantly trying, with the help of my wife and others, to guard the amount of time I give to electronic media and work.
- If your child has a phone: Who can they call or text? Who pays the bill? What time of night must they stop using it? Can they use it at meal time?
- How can you monitor social media usage like Facebook and Twitter? How can you protect them from pornography?
- Have you installed internet filters through your wireless network? If not check out this link for a great free service through DNS. But remember, if they access the internet through cellular then this will not filter it.
- I could say more, but you get the point. You need to really consider how you are going to hold your child accountable and monitor their usage.
Do Not Fall to this Trap:
Whatever you do, don’t fall into this trap if you are a parent. Don’t fall into the trap of ownership and personal privacy. Many parents have fallen victim to the concept that the child owns the device; it is theirs. That is what the child claims and that is how the parent treats it. They then allow the teen to set the device up and control privacy on the phone, computer, or tablet. It is considered an invasion of personal privacy and a ridiculous display of lack of trust by the teen if a parent wants to go through the device and read information on it.
My thoughts involve two ideas: First, try to purchase family devices. Don’t give your child a device just for themselves, buy it for the family and thus it is shared and you have regular access to it. Second, always speak like you are the parent and you are the true owner. Hold them accountable by regularly checking text messages, Facebook, and other apps. It is not about trust, it is about parenting. Our world is dangerous. You wouldn’t give them free reign in New York City, why would you give them free reign on the internet?
So whatever hot new electronic device you have for your kids this Christmas, don’t just give it to them! Be sure you give them accountability and disciplined usage as well. Then it will be blessing, and not a curse.
Parents, how does your family handle children and electronic media devices in your home?