2017 | Week of May 15 | #1203
I watched with amazement recently as a darling two-year-old boy took his mom’s smart phone and began using his miniature fingers to maneuver round the keys and buttons without hesitation, eyes glued to the screen, his handsome little face, complete with pursed lips, intent on accomplishing his mission. Shortly he found what he was looking for—a Muppets’ video, which he proceeded to play. In truth, he probably did all this faster than I could—and I confess to being no stranger to a smart phone.
While I smiled as I watched, inside I was struggling with being proud of this little guy for being so smart and so adept at so young an age and also being afraid for what this early prowess and familiarity might mean in the years ahead.
As a Christian, I try to put even these situations through the filter of Biblical truth and teaching. Here’s where I landed. If any group of people should be concerned about technology use and especially the Internet, it seems to me it should be Christians. We are the ones Scripture tells us who have available the mind of Christ, Holy-Spirit granted wisdom, sharp powers of discernment, moderation in all things, and the admonition to use self-control.
Unfortunately, I don’t see a lot of this being exercised when it comes to our use of digital devices. We seem as tied to our smart phones and tablets as the rest of the world. Christian adults in particular should be monitoring ourselves on this issue—and parents should be interceding and intervening on behalf of their children. I wonder, however, how many are doing either of these.
CITA says children can definitely suffer from “digital distraction.” The site supplies a 12-question test for parents to take in order to assess whether their child is experiencing this problem. Here are a few of the questions.
“Do you find your child spending more and more time online or on their digital devices than they seem to realize? Do you find your child spending more time with ‘virtual friends’ as opposed to real people nearby? Has the amount of time your child spends on digital devices and the internet been increasing? Does your child sleep with their Smartphone under their pillow or next to their bed regularly? Do you find your child viewing and answering texts, tweets and emails at all hours of the day and night—even when it means interrupting other things they’re doing, such as schoolwork, meals, sports or other family activities? Do you limit, block or filter Internet and digital screen-time access for your child? Do you feel your child’s use of technology actually decreases their academic productivity and real-time socialization, family participation or physical activity? Do you find your child feeling somewhat ill-at-ease or uncomfortable when they accidentally leave their phone or other Internet/digital device in the car or at home, or when they have no service or their device is broken? When they leave the house do they always have their smartphone or other digital device with them? When you limit your child’s time on a digital device or take it away from them, do they have a strong emotional or physical reaction?”
As your heard these, did you find yourself wincing a bit and thinking, “Wow. Maybe I better ask myself these questions?” Trust me, you’re not alone in that response.
Technology in and of itself isn’t bad. How we use technology and where we let technology take us can be bad, very bad, especially for children. Remember—the Internet has become the number place for children to be exposed to gambling, pornography, violence, sex trafficking and more. Parents can’t be too careful these days. Of course, a child’s best teacher is the example his or her dad and mom set, even in using technology. So, when that Smartphone shows up at dinner tonight, consider carefully the little eyes and ears that are taking it all in. For your sake and their sake, let’s practice the mind of Christ, seek Holy-Spirit granted wisdom, exercise sharp powers of discernment, model moderation in all things, and take seriously the admonition to use self-control—and then plug in to real life.
For Wisconsin Family Council, I’m Julaine Appling, reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”