We don’t need a camera, a calendar, or even books, because we have a phone, right? The one device that is supposed to make everything easier sometimes does the opposite in our lives. Actually, the same could be said for any screens. TVs, tablets, and video games all consume our lives…and us.
So this week we are going through Arlene Pellicane and Gary Chapman’s book Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World, which should help us and our children have healthy boundaries with our devices.
You might know that your family spends too much time on devices, but how do you cut back? Arlene explains:
Be specific when you create rules about time limits, content allowed, and what you make exceptions for […] Use positive language when you are creating new digital house rules for yourself. Don’t put the emphasis on disconnecting, as if you are losing out. Instead focus on connecting. Think about what you will be gaining through connecting more frequently with your family and taking a break from technology. (202-203)
Don’t be afraid to start small, but the important thing is that you do something!
It’s so easy to withdraw into screens, and your love tank can start to empty because technology can’t fill it up like human interaction can. That’s why it is so important to connect with your family using their love languages. If you haven’t read Gary Chapman’s book about the 5 love languages, there is a small section about it in this book as well along with some ideas on how to connect it with technology:
Physical Touch –
When family members get used to engaging with screens, they lose the physical touch that should be a normal dynamic in a healthy family […] When you put your arm aroudn your child, wrestle, or give him a high five, you’re communicating your love and interest in being together. (140)
Words of Affirmation –
Maybe when your older child is walking home from school, you can text, “I’m thinking of how pretty you looked when you went to school today. See you soon.” (141)
Quality Time –
Quality time should involve loving eye contact. Looking into your child’s eyes with care is a powerful waqy to convey love from your heart to the heart of your child. […] Quality time is a means for knowing your child better. (143)
The digital age has put gift-giving on steroids. […] Parents and grandparents may need to give less rather than more, carefully choosing meaningful gifts. (144)
Acts of Service –
Make it your goal that your children will learn to be comfortable in serving others. Your children will not pick this up by accident online. Rather, they will learn it by watching you serve them and other people with joy. (147)
Ok, I’ll admit it, I have let my kids get way too comfortable with being on screens all the time. And if you’re like me, you might be struggling with how to take control again. Arlene says it starts by teaching them positive social skills:
Begin by explaining how your child will benefit from acting friendly even when he would rather withdraw. Some benefits may be having more fun, making good friends, or enjoying school and social activities more. (115)
If your child is using an electronic device when a person begins talking to him, teach your child to put down the device, look at the person, and smile. People first. Phones, tablets, or video games second. (115)