With an infinite amount of data at our fingertips, it can be difficult to stay off the devices that serve as a gateway to virtually unlimited information and entertainment. Many acknowledge the problem of tech, cellphone and media addiction, and even cellphone companies have gotten in on the act to address the problem.
In fact, Apple has designed a ‘Families’ website to inform parents about their children’s phone usage, keep them safe and help curb tech addiction so that the “technologies that were designed to bring us together” don’t tear families apart, reports Mashable.
Dr. Paul Chappell is the author of “Making Home Work in a Broken Society,” where he explores Bible principles for raising children and building families. Our broken society, Chappell says, celebrates sin and minimizes family relationships, so is it possible for Christian parents in today’s society to raise emotionally healthy kids who love God and are equipped to do God’s will for their lives?
Yes. Emphatically, yes.
“God has entrusted parents to care for and raise their children for Him, and He has given parents the resources they need for the job,” says Chappell, who has served as senior pastor of Lancaster Baptist Church for the past 31 years and is also the president of West Coast Baptist College. “Specifically, He has given parents His Word to guide and His grace to enable. That doesn’t mean it will be easy or that it will happen on autopilot. It isn’t, and it won’t.”
Chappell addresses tech addiction in the chapter of “Making Home Work” titled, “Taming the Media Monster.”
“One of the great dangers of technology is its addictive properties—strongholds, as the Bible refers to them,” Chappell writes. “But acknowledging that this can be a problem isn’t enough. So how can we help our children overcome media addictions?”
Chappell offers these suggestions:
- Check your own use. When you are held hostage by Facebook or television for hours at a time, it’s difficult to insist that your teenager take a break from gaming.
- Be aware. One of the burdens on today’s stressed, overworked parents is fatigue. It’s tough to stay involved in your child’s media. It’s easy to let him go to his room and play video games. But do you know what game he is playing? Do you know who he is playing it with? Don’t be too tired to protect your child.
- Discuss the dangers with your child. This is especially important for older children. Make a list together of some of the dangers of being addicted to the smartphone, tablet, texting, social media and gaming. These dangers, Chappell notes, include: disrupting relationships with friends and family; destroying dreams and goals to do God’s will; disrupting sleep; jeopardizing school, work and employment; affecting mental and physical health; hindering normal life progression; and creating “digital dementia”—overstimulation of the brain that affects cognitive thinking, memory and attention span.
- Set boundaries. Your child is not likely to be mature enough to appreciate the safety of the boundaries you set or to understand thoroughly the dangers of crossing them. And she is likely to test them, push against them and repeatedly ask you to reconsider them once they are set. That’s OK. Set and hold boundaries anyway. You are the parent, and it is your responsibility to set up the guard rail in front of the rim of the canyon.
“Media addictions are serious,” Chappell adds. “In addition to the physical, emotional or relational reasons we might cite, the incessant notifications and constant compulsion to ‘check Facebook quick’ can be invasions interrupting the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. Don’t allow the media monster to take control of your child’s life.”
The truths presented in “Making Home Work” are not parenting hacks or tricks to have well-behaved kids, Chappell says. They are principles studied from God’s Word and applied to the challenging topics and multifaceted responsibilities today’s parents face so they can discover what it means to invest in children and bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Chappell and his wife of 37 years, Terrie, are also the authors of the new travel-themed marriage guide “Are We There Yet? Marriage—a Perfect Journey for Imperfect Couples,” which contains truth for husbands that will help them clarify their destination, communicate their needs and grow as a couple.