Screen Time – A Must Have Conversation for Adults, too

When our local High School introduced one-to-one computing in the 2011-2012 school year, I was concerned. Every pediatric specialist was warning parents to limit screen time, not magnify and multiply it. I am rarely an alarmist. New things and new ideas are important. I am all for “new,” but evaluation is critical.

Six months into this school-based social experiment with my teenagers, the disruption of learning and dangerous trends were alarming. The outcry was universal among students, teachers, and parents. I approached the school, the superintendent, and the Board of Education. There was no plan for honest evaluation. That journey taught me a lot.

As community leaders, parents, and church professionals we must open the door to transparent discussion and honest evaluation of screen time in our own lives and the lives of those we lead, love, and serve. NOW!

The danger is clear and growing.

Conversations must begin. 

What we “name,” we can “contain” and grow from.

How?

  • Remove the shame. We are in this mess together. There are some people/families who navigate these landmines with apparent ease, but a vast majority of us are living with the impact of too many triggered landmines. The wounds and damage are visible.
    • Problems with over-use and/or addiction
    • Disengaged children and teens
    • Fractured family relationships
    • Mental health crisis
    • Wasted time
  • Consider using or creating a place or platform for people to share and ask questions. Maybe Sunday morning class and home Bible Study group. Set the stage and frame it well. 

“Is screen time impacting people you love? No one knew the effect mobile internet devices and advanced gaming systems would have on adults, children, and families. We have been caught unaware, but nothing is hopeless or out of our control. There are stories to share, things to learn, best practices to explore and embrace. Let’s do it, and let’s do it together! We are not alone.”

We need to start the conversations now! Consider replying to this post. Share a “best practice” you have set into motion for yourself and/or your family in regards to screen time. What made it hard? What are the rewards? What are you learning? Thanks! Blessings!

Are you a part of a group who might be blessed by a one-time Screen Time Conversation? Below are questions you might find handy. To request a PDF of these questions, please contact Laura at Laura@RunHardRestWell.com Subject Line: Screen Time

Screen Time – A Must Have Conversation for Small Groups

For the Group Leader: Lay the groundwork. This group must be a Safe Place. To make that happen, encourage people to:

1) Share their own stories – the good, the bad, and the ugly as they feel comfortable.

2) Avoid the word “should” and replace it with “I am learning … “

3) Listen and reflect

4) Take what you find helpful and leave the rest. 

As You Begin:

Consider reading Tim Elmore’s article The Negative Impact of Social Media on a Teen’s Self Esteem . It is not necessary, but might set the stage and get the group thinking. Note: The article is about teens, but is applicable to all.

Discussion Questions

As you begin . . .

  • Have everyone share questions 1 – 3. Go around in a circle.
  • For questions 4 – 7 share “popcorn” style. Ask the question, but don’t go around the circle. Allow people to share or listen as they feel led.
  • As you wrap up, have everyone share questions 8 – 11.

  1. Share your name, a highlight of the past week, and either … the ages of your children/grandchildren or what you do. 
  2. When it comes to technology and screens, do you tend to be an early adopter or a late adopter? What things do you currently enjoy and use? (Netflix, Linked In, Pinterest, FB, Word, Excel, Alexa, Bluetooth, Fitbit . . .)
  3. What have you observed about yourself and your use of screens? Has your use changed over the years? Would you consider these changes healthy or not healthy?
  4. Has anyone accused you of being on a screen too much? How does that make you feel? What was your response – short term and long term? 
  5. How is screen time impacting your own life … relationally, physically, spiritually, emotionally? 
  6. How do you see the screen time of those you love impacting their lives? 

Do you feel powerless over trying to help them navigate these challenges? Why or why note?

  1. If the amount of time you spent on-line every day and/or your screen time activities were broadcast to the world, would you feel comfortable or uncomfortable? Where might that make you squirm? What does that tell you?
  2. Share a “best practice” you have set into motion for yourself and/or your family in regards to screen time. What made it hard? What are the rewards? What are you learning? As a group, begin to make a list.
  3. Share other “best practices” you have heard about or practice. Add thses things to your list.
  4. As you heard the stories, challenges, best practices of others, what is your “take home?” What best practice might you explore in the weeks ahead? 
  5. If you had an opportunity to share a Word of Wisdom with a young couple about to start a family, what would you share?

Do you want to dig deeper? Does the group? Consider reading The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch

It is an outstanding resource, high on story-telling, facts, and practical, grace-filled insights and encouragement. Below is the Crouch’s list of 10 Commitments. Which ones do you like?

10 Tech-Wise Commitment by Andy Crouch

  1. We develop wisdom and courage together as a family.
  2. We want to create more than we consume. So we fill the center of our home with things that reward skill and active engagement.
  3. We are designed for a rhythm of work and rest. So one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year, we turn off our devices and worship, feast, play and rest together.
  4. We wake up before our devices do, and they “go to bed” before we do.
  5. We aim for “no screens before children are 10” at school and at home.
  6. We use screens for a purpose, and we use them together, rather than using them aimlessly and alone.
  7. Car time is conversation time.
  8. Spouses have one another’s passwords, and parents have total access to children’s devices.
  9. We learn to sing together, rather than letting recorded and amplified music take over our lives and worship.
  10. We show up in person for the big events of life. We learn how to be human by being fully present at our moments of greatest vulnerability. 

Explore The Tech-Wise Family further through this on-line article.

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3 thoughts on “Screen Time – A Must Have Conversation for Adults, too”

  1. I read “Glow Kids” by Nicholas Kardaras this summer while driving to NY. I was convicted, but not really sure what to do. We are in a transition situation, moving from one location to another and because a lot of our possessions are packed up, going online is so much more tempting. I need to prayerfully consider how best to encourage my children away from their screens. I have read Andy Crouch’s book and was convicted then, but the world is so good at dulling my senses.
    Thank you for this reminder. I am going to do more.
    Blessings!

  2. I have raised 2 sets of kids and raising a 3. The first set we had little computer time to no computer time at home until high school.Then only so they could do reports. But way too much tv time. Mostly spent watching Disney movies. A very funny story, I had bought the kids and I our first computer.
    I was setting it up and I didn’t know what some of the pieces were but the kids did. When they told me that the one piece was a mouse I literally threw it a cross the room as I don’t do mice at all. It took both kids to convince me that it wasn’t real and that it was needed for the computer. We have a good laugh over that every time one of us tells the story. I have finally come to realize that a mouse comes in other forms other than a scarring, little fur creature with a long tail. As for a phone they only got one flip phone to split between them and only got it when they were driving somewhere. Second set was on leapfrog electronics from the age of 3. We realized that we had to let go some. But it was only allowed on long road trips.
    Not in town. Still way too much tv, which was mostly PBS or Disney movies. Until 5th grade we still didn’t allow much computer. By 9th grade we felt since there was no pay phone at school and marching band could end early, a phone was needed. We got one with a full key pad so texting would be easier with no internet. This was also the year that an iPad was required for high school. Life became very rough these years. Our child would not allow us to see the iPad at all nor the phone. My husband just kept saying we just needed to trust. Other parents were either in the same boat with me very concerned of what their child was doing in the electronic devices or had assess to them and could see. This child has turned out ok so far. 3rd set if kids have had way too much of PBS in their early years. Last year I cut their tv time down to one movie or 2 PBS shows per day. The rest of the time they were encouraged to either play or read books. So far I like it. I’m not sitting in front of the tv watching what they are watching to make sure it’s ok. They both have leapfrog electronics that are to only be used for doctors officers or other appointments or long road trips. My husband let’s the kids have them often when I’m not around. We also had to purchase an iPad because of e-learning days.

  3. Wonderful. Much needed area to be addressed. I will play games on line…solitaire, sudoku, and such. I recently downloaded 2 games that I really enjoyed. I REALLY enjoyed these games. As I saw myself playing them all the time, I realized I had a problem. I deleted the worst culprit. Instead of spending less time, I found I put my time into the other game. Not only did it take a lot of my time, it also took money. I deleted the second game. I never expected to become so addicted to a game.

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