Kids and Technology

Guest Article in the John Rosemond Newsletter

 

What’s a Parent To Do?

by Janet Carter

The technology question is among my top five FAQs, if not number one. As well it should be, as it is a question without an easy answer. This is a general guideline, and even within my own guideline, there is room for discussion. I publish it below in hopes of starting the discussion in your home. Your discussion and your decisions will have significant impact on your children and the next generation.

1. Remember that nothing is all good or all bad and like it or not, technology is in your child’s future. We cannot turn back the clocks, and, like driving a car, your children need to learn to use it safely.

2. General rule of thumb: little to none for the very young. Everything I read suggests that it causes our brain waves to go from beta to alpha (active to passive), which is NOT what we want for developing brains. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cris-rowan/technology-children-negative-impact_b_3343245.html?utm_hp_ref=tw) In a culture so intent on education, early and often, the use of iPads on cribs and potty chairs is, ironic at best and absurd at worst. As a daily activity, absolutely not, if for no other reason than you will find you and your children will grow quickly dependent on the electronic babysitter. Create better habits for yourself and them.

But, if watching Elmo on an iPad while on a long trip keeps an 18 month old from actively thinking (and screaming) GET ME OUT OF THIS CAR, and keeps the adults with said child from losing their minds along the way, then I would say that desperate times call for desperate measures.

3. For elementary children, to the extent that you can, limit, limit, limit screen time, including TV. Again, the same brain wave effects as above. We want the minds of our children actively engaged, and despite the educational claims of today’s electronic games and programming, the best education is the tried and true: books and play. If you allow screen time, you need to be very clear about the limits and if they are violated, so is the privilege. No exceptions.

4. Computers are being employed in public and private schools, and in our area, children in middle school are issued a laptop for the school year, just like a textbook. Children should be unequivocally informed that the computer (or iPad, or phone) does NOT belong to them. It is the property of the adult that pays for it. They are to use it within very strict parameters and anything outside of those parameters is not tolerated and will result in loss of use. Period.

Case in point: I talked with a mom who discovered that her child had used the school computer to create a separate personal account, which was a violation of the house rules for computer use. She was surprised and disappointed at her child’s violation of trust, given that this was (and is) a good student and had in the past given her no reason to doubt compliance to the rules. The transgression proved innocent enough – but the innocence of the lapse is not the point. This is an example of a good child making a childish decision. But for us as adults, the mistake is a wake-up call to the ease of availability the internet provides and just how quickly a child can get into trouble.

5. As children get older, unless you and they live on a remote self-sustaining farm, apart from any form of internet accessibility, they will become more and more involved with technology and social media. As such, parents need to be vigilant and set limits and constraints that are to be strictly followed. All screens should be used in a family area and NO ONE should be allowed to be on a computer or any similar device without an adult present and nearby. No exception, even if that makes life tough for the parents. Employ any parental safeguards available.

Remember that these are power tools in the hands of children – children who do not know nearly as much as they think they know. Without question most kids are technically savvier than their parents, but savvy is not the same thing as mature. Pornography is rampant, as are sexual predators, and children of any age need our protection and our persistence. This is not a lesson to learn the hard way.

6. If your kids play video games – set time limits and stick to them. 30 minutes means 30 minutes – and if you return in 35 minutes and the game is not shut down – the privilege is revoked and screen time is lost for a week (or more). Make your children responsible for their time. If they are old enough to play the game, they are old enough to watch the clock. With any privilege, including video games, comes responsibility. Same goes for the TV.

7. NO, NO, NO screens of any kind in a child’s bedroom. Ever. Cell phones of anyone under the age of 18 and living at home should be turned in to a parent every night, even if they have to wake up the parent to do so. Parents should feel no guilt and make no apologies for this rule, as I would suspect that parents are the ones footing the bill for the privilege.

Again, nothing is all good. Nothing is all bad. If you are parents and have never questioned, researched, and discussed the pros and cons of technology and its impact on your family, there is no time like now! Make well informed choices, as technology is not only in your child’s future, but their future may depend on those decisions.

Janet Carter is a former high school English teacher and mother to four adult children. Based in Richmond, VA, Janet is a Certified Rosemond Parenting Coach, writer, speaker, and advocate for the family. You can follow her on Twitter @janetgcarter or visit her website and blog, www.ourchildishways.com.

Article ©2014 Janet Carter.

10 Practical Tips for Dads in Discipling Your Children for Christ

I wish I knew or would have been taught these things earlier in my life - it would have saved so many mistakes! Pass this on and share with young parents.
parent-teen-talk-150x150We who are dads have some unique challenges with making disciples. Moms have a built in “disciple-maker gene” that is given by God, but dads tend to be more focused on providing income than on nurturing children.
The good news is that Jesus, the ultimate Man showed us how to make disciples. He “adopted” a group of men and “parented” them for over 3 years. Jesus told His disciples to follow Him and then He personally did the discipling. As a family they lived together, worked together and ministered together 24/7. He was frequently teaching them throughout each day (Deut. 6) and He was showing them how to minister to others. Finally, He protected His disciples by physically being with them. He didn’t send them out until they were fully trained, and then He sent them out with another Christian adult for protection, and they were grown men! That is the exact model that dads (along with moms) are wise to follow today.
What are some practical ways for dads to disciple their children for Christ? Here is my top ten list:
1. Develop a habit of confessing sin to the Lord and to your family.We all blow it and we need to set the right example for our family in confessing sins. If you are just now starting to disciple your children, you can begin by repenting for not making disciples of them in the past. I didn’t start intentionally discipling my children until my daughter was almost ten years old.  I regret that fact and have confessed that to my her more than once. You might as well be real with your family and this will reduce any appearance of hypocrisy in your life. Ask the Lord to “restore in your life and your children’s lives what the locust have devoured.”  We all make mistakes, but the Lord can restore the damage that has been done by the devil.  In our own strength we can’t make disciples anyway.  We need help from the Lord!
2. Look for ways to read and discuss scripture. Like Jesus, when you are with your children teach them when you arise, when you travel in your car, when you are at home, and when you lie down (Deut. 6).  Keep a copy of the Bible in your car so that you can seize opportunities to read scripture no matter where you are.
3. Teach your children to teach. Who gets the most out of a teaching? The teacher! Give your children opportunities to teach the Bible to the family from time to time.  If you are doing the teaching, ask questions to your children to engage them and so they can articulate what they believe. This is a great way to solidify a biblical worldview.
4. Have family worship/devotions daily. Don’t make a big deal out of having devotions; this can be easy! The three elements of family worship are singing spiritual songs, reading scripture and prayer. Buy some worship song books and take turns selecting songs that your family can sing together. From the time your baby is out of the womb, read scripture to them every chance you get, but at least daily. Don’t believe the evolutionists who say that little children can’t learn from the Word of God. Children rise to the level at which they are taught.   Lastly pray with your family and for your family. You can have devotions anywhere; in your car, in your home, at the park, hotel room.  Have your family take turns reading scripture, selecting hymns and praying. Ask your children what the Lord is teaching them today.  Ask them what the scriptures are saying.  If the Holy Spirit leads you, explain what you have read or share a testimony. Adjust the length of time for ages of your children; a good rule of thumb is one minute of teaching for every year of age.  If you do this consistently family worship/devotions can become the center of all you do as a family; it can help calm your hearts and establish harmony in your family.
5. Spend more time with your family. Instead of waiting for a vacation once a year, do something fun every week; the park, the lake, the zoo. Do ministry together. Talk about the goodness of the Lord while you are together! Find ways to be together, play together, play games at home, do hobbies together. Doing so will reduce time spent with foolish peers.  Proverbs 13:20 says “Those who walk with the wise shall become wise, and the companion of fools will be destroyed.”  Since children are born with a foolish nature (Prov. 22:15), better that they spend time with you and your spouse!
6. Really get to know each child. There are no shortcuts to developing a relationship with your children. Spend time with each child; go on outings and “dates” with them. Win their hearts!
7. Be discriminating about what goes into your family’s eyes, ears and hearts. Jesus didn’t expose His disciples to false teaching; He warned them about it. Consider the fact that entertainment helps no one other than the seller of the entertainment! It is better to choose activities that will benefit your family or others that you are ministering to. Reject much of Hollywood’s junk; the lion’s share is coming from a non-biblical worldview. Watch for unbiblical themes and discuss with your children. When you select entertainment, look for Christian movies and DVD’s; there is an abundant supply of Christian offerings these days.  Get rid of cable or subscribe selectively.  Choose Christian music; it is now available in every genre. Be careful about what your children read.  Install an internet filter on your computer and locate it in a public area to protect your family.  For adults, Covenant Eyes is an excellent software program that keeps you accountable to another adult.
8.   Dads, you must find ways to involve the family in your life.  This can be difficult for fathers, especially those who have outside employment.  However, there are some things that you can do. You can choose jobs that allow for more family time.  I know a dad who took a job that allows him to be home two days per week.  Start a hobby that your family can do together. There are also home-based jobs that allow entire families to be involved with their dad.
9.   If possible, adjust your lifestyle to allow one parent to stay home. In today’s virtual work environment many jobs are being created that are home-based. Look for employers that allow work from home or consider starting a home-based business. Choose less expensive homes and cars which would allow one parent to be at home to disciple the children.
10.  Find a ministry with which you can involve your children. There are needy people all around you. Ask the Lord to lead you to a ministry you can do as a family. Show them how to minister, to meet physical needs and to pray for others.
Choosing some of the above activities and doing them on a regular basis will make a huge impact on your family. Your children and wife will begin to view you as the spiritual leader at home. You will have fewer regrets in the future. Fix your eyes upon Jesus and disciple like Him!
Article Reblogged from Disciple Like Jesus and Raising Godly Chilren

Getting Old Because of the Young

“Children are a great comfort in your old age – and they help you reach it faster too.” -Lionel Kauffman

 

Before we had kids, we used to dream about a big family, all grown up, coming to visit on Christmas and recounting all of the wonderful times we shared together. Then we had kids and we wondered if we’d ever make it to middle age, let alone old age. From the moment they are born, kids try our patience and they test our mettle. And that’s a good thing.

Because along with the extra gray hair and bulging middle (from all that stress related cortisol), we also gain more maturity and wisdom from our kids if we let the job do its work on us. Nothing asks more of us than parenting does. We must grow up if we want our kids to. We must admit our weaknesses and work on them if we’d like them to do the same. A tall order, to be sure, but one worth all the gray hair in the world. For when we allow our kids to teach us about ourselves, we can then be as free and joyful as children again.

-Hal Runkel, LMFT, Author of ScreamFree Parenting and ScreamFree Marriage