In light of recent data about trends in gen z and the negative affects of smartphones, what are some ideas for ways to raise our children with a healthy relationship to technology and what are some ways to fight our own unhealthy tendencies?
Oh man…This is one of the things I’m evaluating in my own life right now, and I wonder if it helps to begin with creating and keeping boundaries? Any healthy relationship needs boundaries after all…
For me, a place I felt I needed to begin was: no phones in the bedroom. When I go upstairs for bed, I am transitioning to rest, and I find that smartphones are NOT conducive to that. When I wake up in the morning, I need to get up and get the day started, and smartphones are NOT conducive to that. I have also found that removing badges and notifications has reduced my desire to check my phone…esp. when it comes to social media.
What other boundaries to people have? Do you have any specific ones, @David_Whitaker?
We have a no tech in the bedrooms rule, as we have a teenage daughter. This helps us all with sleep wake cycle (circadian rythym), and stops any temptation to use smart phones to make dumb decisions for teens (sexting, porn). We don’t have any teenage sons but I would be very strict with a no tech in bedroom rule because of just how addictive and destructive porn is. But of course as a parent you explain the ‘why’ behind these rules to teens. Nothing worse than parents telling teens to obey rules ‘just because I said so’. And the ‘no tech’ rule applies to parents as well otherwise teens spot the hypocrisy a mile off.
I also read an article a long time ago which disturbed me about tech companies allegedly using behavioral scientists to make tech addictive.
Having said that technology is simply a tool, the challenge is to use it well and not become a slave to it.
Another thing about smart phones which I think is a problem is if we pull out a smart phone while in the presence of another person, it’s saying to them they are not important. There’s nothing more dismissive and saying ‘you are not important to me’ when in the middle of a meeting and your boss or another senior person pulls out a phone and starts checking it.
Some hopefully good habits are as Kathleen says turn off all the notifications and even badge notifications on apps that are actually not important. I only have SMS notifications and treat everything else like email - you check it as part of your day in a certain time slot and then when you are finished you ignore it until tomorrow’s time to deal with it. For me, this habit helps with only dealing with that particular days problems, and to try and live in ‘day tight compartments’. As Jesus said, do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow’s worries will look after themselves. (Matt 6:34).
Don’t check your work email unless you intend on actually doing something about it - worse thing is to read your work email in the evening and then worry about it all night. Just leave it, if something is drastically wrong, someone will ring you about work problems, otherwise it’s tomorrows problem.
Anyways just a few thoughts hopefully helpful ones…
I personally disable most notifications myself. Also, even the secular world is catching onto the dangers of screen time, so iPhones have some built in limiting features I use. I specifically lock down social media and game apps between 5pm and my daughters’ bed time because I want to make sure they actually have my attention.
This issue has really only recently become a focus of mine, and I’ve been finding little ways each day to cut back on screen time. I’ve been able to see myself drastically reduce my screen time in the last month, and plan to do more so.
I don’t have kids, but I often think how I would handle the technology thing with them if I did. I worked for a primary school for a number of years, and integrating technology was a big part of our curriculum. I still wonder if the screen time (even if it was educational) affects their brains negatively…or positively? Similarly, I am not a proponent of sticking kids in front of screens to keep them quiet, but that’s always easier stated than practised!
How early on in human development do you guys think that a healthy relationship with tech begins? Do we start strictly and then slowly, gradually release as they mature? Or…?
It’s interesting that Silicon Valley tech workers are removing tech from their kids lives.
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, start strict and then release as kids move into teens and maturity. If you start with loose boundaries as a parent in any area it’s harder to reign it in when it all goes wrong.
We’ve tried to link boundaries of our daughter to responsibility shown. If she shows more maturity then the boundaries get larger, if she makes unwise choices then the boundaries shrink for a time because as we say to her obviously she doesn’t yet have the maturity to deal with the bigger responsibility of larger boundaries. We say that we are aiming for her to be able to function successfully in adult life - this is our aim as parents to be a success, as Jesus defines success.
We always say, that as an adult there are still boundaries, such as the police and the tax man, and the government. As Christians, Jesus said to respect all authority and be subject to them.
I’ve gone off track from the topic a little, and this is the ideal we try for. Of course, in the day to day ups and downs of life it’s a lot messier than that. It’s nice to stick the kids in front of the TV for an hour or so in the afternoon so you can get some things done around the house.
There is a huge amount of tech in the world today, and I think it’s part of a parents responsibility to help kids and teens navigate it all. Tech itself is amoral, it’s what humans do with it. To ignore tech altogether is also not helping kids out because it will be a shock to the system once they reach adulthood and enter the real world.
Another interesting article I read recently suggests that society needs to slow the internet down somewhat. Quite an interesting idea (as a tech myself they are not referring to download speeds probably for your devices, but rather stopping the whirlwind speed of social media ?). In the article they use ‘friction’ as a way of slowing things down. What do others think of the speed of communication these days, has it made us all faster, harder and angrier as the article suggests ? I know I can’t really use Facebook because I have a slightly sarcastic sense of humor, I’ve had to stop using years ago for ‘chatting’ in the comments because my clever sarcastic humor quite plainly hurt others in at least two instances. You type a joke which only a couple of people get, and others are left scratching their heads, or hurt because they read into it incorrectly or a multitude of other issues that it opens up.