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.
- 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.
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.
- Share your name, a highlight of the past week, and either … the ages of your children/grandchildren or what you do.
- 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 . . .)
- 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?
- 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?
- How is screen time impacting your own life … relationally, physically, spiritually, emotionally?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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.
- Share other “best practices” you have heard about or practice. Add thses things to your list.
- 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?
- 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
- We develop wisdom and courage together as a family.
- We want to create more than we consume. So we fill the center of our home with things that reward skill and active engagement.
- 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.
- We wake up before our devices do, and they “go to bed” before we do.
- We aim for “no screens before children are 10” at school and at home.
- We use screens for a purpose, and we use them together, rather than using them aimlessly and alone.
- Car time is conversation time.
- Spouses have one another’s passwords, and parents have total access to children’s devices.
- We learn to sing together, rather than letting recorded and amplified music take over our lives and worship.
- 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.