As a blogger and shop owner, the internet and social media are a big part of my day to day. As with anything, there is a fine balance of letting the internet run my life or using it in ways that propel my work, encourage others, and lift Jesus high without consuming all my time. Let me stay it right now- I am a believer that this internet thing and all the technology that comes with it, though there are many corners of darkness within them, can be and ARE being used to shine light.
There are good and great things being done through technology and the internet. The YouVersion Bible app installed on 158,889,094 phones in 741 languages? LIGHT.
Communities of women gathering around the world to know God more deeply and to live out their purposes? LIGHT.
Instagrammers raising funds for families in the process of adoption, or in the wakes of the loss of a child, or in the midst of crisis? LIGHT.
Creatively minded women joining to encourage and resource each other to make their online lives mean something? LIGHT.
So, that’s my starting place. Internet and technology ARE being used for good.
When I heard about the book Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World, I was interested. Because while the internet can and is being used for good, I am definitely concerned about the next generation’s complete saturation in this technology. I don’t want to praise the internet’s good at the detriment of an entire generation of young people whose emotional, mental, and spiritual development are profoundly impacted by it.
This is a conversation we have to bring to the table. I don’t think it means cursing technology and burning all screens, but I do think it means we as parents and teachers and leaders have to recognize the affects of our screen-driven world on children and set boundaries for young people appropriately.
Chapman and Pellicane write, “This is not an anti-technology book. Technology is here to stay, and we believe you can find positive ways to utilize it for your relationships.” The problem comes not in the screens themselves, but in the gross number of hours small children and teens spend fixed looking at them via smartphones, video games, computers, and television, in place of actual face-to-face conversations. While many of my dearest friends have come into my life through the blessing of technology, I think often how authentic community is being sacrificed at the hands of screens.
I just don’t want our kids’ relationships to stay there… connected only online, rarely in-person. I want my children to know how to look someone in the eye and say, “I’m sorry” when they’ve wronged a friend, not just send a text. I want them to know the fullness and depth of sitting with a friend face-to-face, coffee in hand, screens out of sight.
The books sites that “the average American child age eight to age eighteen spends more than seven hours per day looking at a video game, computer, cellphone or television. By the age of seven, a child born today will have spent one full year of twenty-four-hour days watching screen media.”
A full YEAR by age seven!
The book goes on to give strong evidence that addictions, entitlement, indulgence, and lack of responsibility are often connected to too much screen time. Without question, too much screen time can erode a family’s sense of togetherness and hinder a child’s social, emotional, and brain development. I appreciate that the book doesn’t start and end with dreary statistics, though. Instead, the authors go on to empower parents to make positive changes in their families.
Growing Up Social will also
• Equip your child to be relationally rich in a digital world• Replace mindless screen time with meaningful family time• Establish simple boundaries that make a huge difference• Discover what’s working for families that have become screen savvy• Learn healthy ways to occupy your child while you get things done
You can read more about the book on the Growing Up Social website.
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