Are Your Tech Habits Harming Your Kids?

Maybe setting screen time limits is a good idea for adults, too.

Here are questions to answer to see if it’s time to set some boundaries.

 

We talk a lot about the effect of tech on kids, and how to set healthy, age-appropriate boundaries. But with a recent study showing a dramatic spike in screen time and media consumption for US adults (over 12 hours per day!), maybe we should also consider setting some limits for ourselves.

 

Of course, it’s not always practical to ignore those “important” emails, and having a smartphone, tablet or computer at the house makes it all too easy to blur the line between work and home. There’s also social media and the desire to “just check in” to see what our friends and family are doing. Or maybe you didn’t have time to catch the latest news. It just “takes a minute” to find that out, too.

 

But if you are a parent, and your kids are with you, what are you teaching them about tech usage?

 

Parents, you are your kids’ greatest influencers. It’s not their teachers or their best friends. Their habits are formed by time spent with Mom and Dad, so if Mom and Dad are constantly plugged in, they’ll probably want to be, too.

 

So how do you know if it’s time to set your own limits? Here are some questions to ask yourself that might help you find the answer:

 

  1. What do you say?

 

Conversation is critical for cognitive development. In fact, a recent MIT study of 4-6 year olds (and their parents) suggests “parents can have considerable influence over their children’s language and brain development by simply engaging them in conversation”.

 

So if your smartphone is distracting you from conversing with your kids, and disrupting what you say to one another, it’s time to set some boundaries.

 

  1. What do you see?

 

We have the ability to stream entertainment on virtually any device. That includes everything from television shows to movies to video games. And guess what? If your kids are around, they are probably watching you watch your screen. Kids are observant even when we think they aren’t paying attention.

 

So if there’s something you want to watch that’s not appropriate for your kids, or it’s taking the place of interacting with them, it’s time to set some boundaries.

 

  1. What do you share?

 

Maybe this final question came to mind because I wasn’t raised under the constant threat of having my photo taken. But I often wonder if parents can “over share” their kids’ experiences. I’m not talking about those holiday and vacation photos. I’m talking about capturing their more embarrassing moments and posting them for all to see.

 

Because of social sites, we give our kids a digital footprint before they are able to walk on their own. And what happens when the day comes that they are on the other side of the lens? Will they just snap and post without much thought for others?

 

So if every moment of life is approached with smartphone in hand, things might have gotten out of hand, and it’s time to set some boundaries.

 

Of course, these three questions are intended to just get us thinking about how we spend our time. Though I’ve focused on parents, as a grandpa (or Papaw as I’m known), I have the responsibility to set a good example, too.

 

So what do you think? Is the ease (and convenience) of tech causing us to neglect more important things in life? Even without us realizing it?

 

I’d love to read your comments!

 

Franklin Santagate is the Executive Vice President of Marketing for Pure Flix, and works with denominations, ministries, and organizations by finding common vision, assets, resources and influence. From that position, we create initiatives we can do together that we cannot do apart, reaching our mutual objectives and expanding the Kingdom of God. To discover more or to become a Pure Flix Global Strategic Alliance partner go to http://pureflixalliance.com/join/.

 

To contact Franklin for speaking opportunities at churches and special events, email him directly at franklin.santagate@pureflix.com