I am what is called a “Millenial” which apparently, according to Wikipedia, means:
Born between 1980s-early 2000’s, very “civic-minded” with a strong sense of community, very confident and “tolerable”, increasingly narcissistic, high in anxiety, and having grown up experiencing digital technology all their lives…
Television, Computers, Internet, Cell Phones and Tablets are part of everyone’s life now. It seems you cannot be very successful or even function in society without the skills necessary to navigate these things.
Your bank account.
Your travel plan
So what place do electronics have in the home?
What place do they need?
This is something that each family has to decide on their own.
I can only share our own convictions on this topic.
I think we can all agree that too much electronic exposure and screen time can lead to addictions, stunted brain development, social retardation, and, in the most severe cases, exposure to a whole lot of sinful topics!
Unsupervised exposure to electronics will *probably* ALWAYS (double negative? perhaps…) lead to something sinful eventually. Even supervised exposure will, but the difference is, when it’s supervised, there is counsel ready to be given.
Which leads me to our first conviction:
Conviction #1: Exposure to Electronics NEEDS to happen in the home. It does! Otherwise, when a child leaves the home, they’ll be exposed and not be equipped or taught how to handle it properly.
What happens when your child needs to use email and a facebook account to promote their business and communicate with coworkers?
Do they know how to avoid dangerous or alluring websites?
How well do they do against spending aimlessly online?
Do they know how to be aware of how much time they have been zoned out on their computer?
Will they be able to identify when it’s consuming them and have the sense to turn it off?
Can they maintain REAL relationships and friendship and not just virtual ones?
Do they know how much personal information to share on their Facebook?
Do they have sense as to what friend requests to accept and deny?
These are things you can teach your child (in our opinion, when they are in the teen years) and instruct them while they are still under your roof.
Convciton #2: Electronics should supplement, NOT be the focus.
Again, this is our conviction, but we believe that learning and practicing reading, writing, and math on paper is very important and almost completely lost in our culture today. People don’t read actual, physical books or actual, physical documents or manuscripts as much anymore. Because of this, we’ve lost a lot of culture. We believe American’s should be reading the actual Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bible, the writings of Josephus. They need to pick up an actually physical book and page through it jotting notes in the margins, recalling which page a specific quote was on. We believe they should know how to read and write in cursive. We believe they should be able to do math on paper without the use of a calculator. Learn these things first, and learn them well.
Now, my 5-year-old son is using a program called Reading Eggs on the computer as part of his phonics studies. This was NOT my first choice, nor did I use this with any of my other children, but I was offered a free year subscription in exchange for finding errors in the accompanying text book. I do see my son excelling using this program. I use the online portion as a supplement, not as the core of his reading. He needs to read a chapter in his physical book, and work through a page a day in the workbook before he is allowed 15 minutes on the internet portion. Again, a supplement, not the focus.
Children, in order to become adults, need to be able to work through problems (character-wise, education-wise) without the babysitting or crutch of electronics. In our opinion, parents who allow their children to zone out on cartoons because they don’t want to correct their child’s behavior contribute largely to why “Millenials” hold the reputation they now hold.
Which brings us to
Conviction #3: Don’t use Electronics as a means to avoid Child Training!
Oh, how easy this is!
How much easier it is to pop on a show than to follow your toddler around picking up the mess they trail behind them, than to break up all the arguments, than to correct that look your daughter gave you…
It’s also so much easier to send your child off to public school 5-8 hours a day than it is to spend that time, every day, every hour, training, teaching, cultivating a mature adult.
Now, with that foundational thought to ground you: pregnancy, sickness, hospital visits… things happen and atypical arrangements are sometimes necessary. Make these arrangements count!
First trimester’s with my boy pregnancies involve me in the bathroom vomiting 5-10 times a day. Weeks 9-12 are the worst. Whatever school work or training that needs to happen, happens with me on the bathroom floor or on the living room sofa. If this involves Magic School Bus or Odd Squad marathons, then so be it. It’s just a season.
So practcially: Our kids get movie nights Mondays since we have a Home Group Bible Study going on that night in our home. Occasionally, they will get a movie on Sunday evening when we have people over to watch Football and fellowship.
They also will get to play on their tablets for an hour or so on Friday evening (sometimes – not an entitlement) when all their school and chores are complete.
We use Youtube and Google searches for research, but we mostly rely on library books, dictionaries, and thesaurus’.
We have a Gamecube in the basement that my sisters and I grew up playing. We pull it up once or twice a year to play on a very special occasion. We don’t plan on ever getting a game system in the house. No particular reason behind this besides the fact that we want our children’s go-to entertainment to be something productive.
You will almost always find my boys with swords, cars, animals, and legos in hand. Alecia is either on the piano or violin composing a new song or with a chapter book in her hand. Hayven is drawing, painting, or taking a nap. Ahavah, brushing her dolls hair and putting on a fashion show.
OLDER KIDS: Our vision for our older kids is to really examine their maturity and gauge the quantity and in what form their electronic exposure is allowed with the end result being an 18-year-old making wise decisions and able to be trusted in both their time and internet content.
I’ll also note that boys react to electronics MUCH DIFFERENT than girls. It seems to affect their thinking and attitudes in an almost obsessive manner.
Stand firm on your convictions parents. Even when it’s the “harder” choice to make. Your child’s foundation for the future is FAR MOE IMPORTANT than a little more “me time” in the present.
Thoughts From Others
Like your website – I would want my kids to know how to do that when they grow, be up to date with what the other kids know because of their need for those skills to get work (although it is hard to imagine the rapture taking so long – but still).
No TV during the school week. The kids can never play the iPad unless we are driving on a long trip. However my oldest can earn iPad time if he reads a book of my choosing, 100 pages gets him an hour of screen time but can only play on the weekend and the max he can earn in a week is 1hr and 30 minutes.
Both my Hubbie and I are in the technology field, but we keep the kids unplugged unless it is required for school work. By 15 you get a cell phone. No iGadgets for the kids. No videogame gadgets. If you want to play videogames, YOU HAVE TO CODE THE GAME yourself:) No TV unless it is a movie night on the weekends for a couple of hours. SEND THEM OUTSIDE. Let them get bored and figure how to self entertain. Let them figure out their interests. Have plentiful arts and crafts supplies. Plus their are plenty of non-electronic toys in their rooms to play.
You ride your bikes to school and play an extra curricular sport, or the screens go.
And I reserve the right to unplug any device at any time for any reason if I deem it necessary.
having raised my Son who is now 25yrs old, Married and a Dad now— as his Mom i would have never used it as a lazy tool/Babysitter like i did when he was younger, i wish we would have limited his tv, video game and puter tines BIGTIME!!! let me further explain when he was 3yrs old we got him his first Video Game Console i remember being excited that because he was so young he would not really want to play the games so i would true story, what we did was create a monster…. in our laziness we knew he would literally sit there and play his games or watch his cartoon on tv we had cable then,so i could cook, clean, do the laundry hang clothes outside, sweep, mop, clean the bathroom, rack the yard you name it and he was allowed to just sit there as long as he was ”not in our way” or “bothering us” so i could just get things done faster was my excuse.
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