“It doesn’t have to be a losing battle.”
Kairos hosts on-line “Parenting Forums” for interested parents and others concerned about the children in their lives. We did one this past October, which was focused on dealing with media. Over 200 participants joined us. We shared that the average American and Canadian teen spends a whole lot of time “plugged in” and entertained by screens. Christian families are certainly not immune. So, what is the risk? Is this worth the battle? YES!
Screen time and media affects basic character development, the ability to build and maintain real relationships, and how we can gain wisdom. On top of all this, screens radically affect brain development.
We gave some practical helps for achieving the media goal of “wise, but limited.” For example, “Be Second” – avoid being an early adopter of the newest technology. Wait and see what the effects are. “Evaluate before you implement” – work on delaying your young person’s exposure to screens and limit dependency on them.
How about us adults? Can we try having screens in public areas or in common places in our homes? It is not only a safeguard, but also a great opportunity for parents to model good online practices for our kids. Can we try having conversations with the parents of our kids’ friends to see if we can be in the same ballpark in media use?
More big areas: “Be limited” – have “no media” times like during meals and after 11:00 PM. Take a “Sabbath” where there is no media (including for us), and so on. Also having limited spaces and agreements about them: for example, not at the dinner table, not in the car, not in the bedroom.
“Limited Tech” – no smart phones for young teens (flip phones are still available and work fine for calling Mom for a ride), maybe only one computer for the family if possible. We also encourage parents to do self-assessments in this area. Do we limit our own use or is this just for the kids? (They will notice.) We do not recommend just confiscating the phone or tablet
even if the teen has a problem with overuse or dependency upon it. Rather, we recommend a
family approach—let’s all work towards regaining control of our devices.
David and Sarah Williamson, from Grand Rapids, Michigan, were among the participants. David went away with these reflections. “It was with this conviction that I walked away from the Kairos Parenting Forum: kids, media, screens, and devices: this stuff matters. On one level I know that, but on another level, I so easily lose sight of what I can do about it. “As a father of four young children, I am regularly intimidated by the rapidly approaching middle and high school years. The Kairos Parenting Forum gave me hope and a strategy for my family. It was helpful to hear from experienced youth workers who regularly engage with young people. They talked from personal experience about the trends they see and the effect it is having on real people and relationships. While they presented sobering facts about tech trends and the effects on youth, they also presented hope: there are things I can do as a parent, even small things, that can make a big difference. “I came away from the night with conviction, as well as tools, for raising my children to be mature, well-functioning human beings. It’s a long road ahead, but I have greater confidence that staying tuned in to Kairos and the resources they offer not only for kids, but also for parents, will be a big help in dealing with the challenges facing my kids. Kairos resources help me know what I can do as a parent to guide them through the challenges and opportunities presented in our tech-focused society.”
Thank you for your continue support in this battle for our youth. We deeply appreciate your prayers, your interest, and your financial support. Thanks for being one of our partners.
God bless you!
PS: Our goal is to have these forums yearly, generally in October. If you or parents you know want
to be part of it next October, contact Kairos web page https://kairos-na.org/contact/. As we get
closer to October, information about the next online forum will be available.