We all have probably read before the story about a kid who collects some money and goes to his always-busy father asking: how much is an hour of your day?
Well, picture yourself for a second answering: an hour of my day is worth an iPad. Which means that your kids will have the option of choosing to spend an hour with you instead of in front of a screen. Would that be your case? Will your kids be willing to pay the price or would they rather prefer to walk away saying: it’s not worth it.
As an IT guy, I'm not sure why but there has always been something inside of me refusing to play video games or be fully engaged on social media. As a parent, that something has a meaning now. A powerful meaning.
I was surprised when I read the news about Steve Jobs replying in 2014 to the New York Times reporter Nick Bilton's question “So your kids must love the iPad?”Jobs responded: “They haven’t used it. We limit how much technology our kids use at home.”
This caught my attention not only because you would probably expect exactly the opposite from a person like Steve Job but also because that reveals some facts about how much he values his role as parent up to the point where he is not afraid of losing money with an affirmation like that. Yes… think about it, I can say for sure that he lost money because of that…. At least 400 dollar that I haven’t spent on an iPad for my kids because whenever I’m tempted to get one for them, I remember Jobs words. You might not be surprised at this point that apparently there is a huge tendency among high profile people in the tech world to avoid the use of technology among their kids.
So, if these tech people have made that choice, why is it that the rest of the world seems to follow a different ideology around electronic devices in our kids’ hands? We are full of excuses when in comes to justifying ourselves. What about when we use them to calm down the kids when they are upset? In such case, do we know why are they upset? Are we even interested in addressing the problem properly or are we just going for the shortcut?
What about a long trip? Let’s play a movie so the kids keeps their mouths shut. Perfect. It's like having an extra seatbelt on them. What about trying something else instead like singing songs or simply having family talks.
There is another great excuse I love. Kids needs to be up to date. Really? Are you the one who will keep them up to date all the time or will they naturally find their own way to update their self and then do their best to update us regarding technology. Wouldn’t it be wiser to teach them how to use technology responsibly instead of throwing them to the mercy of technology and having technology use our kids.
Another common and very practical excuse is - it’s a communication tool. Do they really need the latest phone to communicate with us? Is the phone or any social media tool the only way to communicate with our kids? I’m not going to explain the importance of healthy communication within the family because at this point I think is very clear where I’m going with this.
The list of excuses goes on and on.
At the end of the day, I personally believe that the real reason we encourage our kids to use gadgets is to avoid fulfilling our duty as parents to instruct them, shape their personality, spend time with them, be patient with them, be kind to them; so basically follow what the Psalm 22 says: Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Now, note that administrating the use of technology at home applies not only for kids but for parents too. Parents, let’s lead by example and choose our family instead of the screen. We could compile another list of excuses that would allow us to spend time in front of the screen instead of with the family but I think it is best if you write down the list and try to convince yourself that such excuses are actually valid arguments. Read the list over and over with a few simple words in mind: Love and Family.
Now that we reduced the time using gadgets, quality family time is needed. This is quite a challenge that requires creativity, patience, good will and many other virtues that comes only from God when we pray to Him asking for what is needed to raise a family according to His commands.
There are very good reasons to wisely monitor the use of technology at home like trying to avoid either short or long term side effects, for instances, the fact that the body tend to ask for more when enjoys something, even it it’s harmful. In this case, abuse of technology will eventually become a vice and drag the person to an isolated world where social skills are lost because they are falsely replaced with Inter-connection. Later on, that veil will fall and the person will find her self in a place where is hard to go back, she will be at the edge of depression and then all other series of problems are added to the list… and at the end of the list: suicide. Dramatic? Yes. But is also a reality. We might not see it in that way but is like giving our kids a gun to play with. There are other problems like privacy, pornography, obesity, learning issues, etc.
No body will give her own child a gun to play with, we give them toys, but if they can learn something from that toy (like in LEGOs), that toy becomes a tool. That is why we are talking about monitoring the use of electronic devices and not entirely remove them from our sight. It’s part of today’s world. It is a matter of using it properly and teaching our kids to use it as well. After all, we want the best for our kids; they are like arrows in the hands of a warrior according the Psalm 127. If we don’t pay attention to this, we might end doing exactly the opposite, setting up our kids to fail in life, we could even be part of the world that drags them in dark waters, the world that makes them stumble, then we will be judged by the world. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea (Mt 18, 6).
Raising a kid is an art, every detail counts but not all the small details are notorious at first sight and yet, in the other hand little mistakes could ruin the entire piece of art. Let’s raise our kids so once they grow up these words will dwell in our hearts: The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him (Prov 23:24)