After over twenty years of working with teens, I find myself in a very interesting place. I’m now a parent of two teens and a third who, because of his older siblings, believes he’s a teen. And, though I never ever thought parenting would be easy for me, I did think that my experience with these unique creatures would help. And I think it has. But, I find myself wrestling everyday with this reality:
Knowing about teens, what they need, and what they don’t is one thing. Leading your family in a way that those things become a reality for your kids is another.
It’s hard work.
It’s straight-up tough.
This is especially true when it comes to technology.
I was recently convicted by an article I read on screen time that stated that 59% of parents feel like their kid is “addicted” to screen time, and 66% feel like their kids get too much screen time. That stung as I would consider myself in the 59% when I think about my kids. I guess it just gets tougher to pay attention to the little things as the number of crying babies increases in your home. That being said, our lack of focus has us in a hole, and I think this summer is a good time for us to crawl out. Which, by the way, seems like it will be way tougher than the work I addressed above.
But how will we do that? Well, I’m not sure but, as my wife Julie and I have talked, here are our thoughts:
First and foremost, the best technology rules are family technology rules. I have said for years that the number one piece of parenting advice I can give is to be the adult you want your child to become:
Pursue God like you want your child to pursue God.
Pursue your spouse like you want your child to someday pursue their spouse.
And, I guess, limit your screen time the way you want your child to limit theirs.
One of the big ideas we have to embrace in this generation is that we are growing up with technology alongside our children. We are trying to learn how to use new and powerful tools responsibly at the same time as our kids. These are not skills our parents even dreamed of teaching us. But that doesn’t give us an out. It just makes it tough.
So, our plan is to call a family meeting and talk it through. And, though we’re not sure where it will go, here are some of the ideas that we will make sure get brought up (fingers crossed some of these will be their ideas too!)
Tech Free Times – What are the times in our day that we will not even consider technology an option. First thing in the morning, meal times, and right before bed all seem to be good starting places. Any others?
Leave Laptops in the Bag – What if the only computer we could use at home was the big ole’ home computer? Remember those days? I do, those were actually better days. Even though we fought a lot about who got to use it and how long, at least we were talking to each other more!
Agree on where the phones/devices should sleep? — We have created a charging station downstairs and no technology comes upstairs. It is awesome. The only exception is mom and dad, but maybe it’s time to figure that out, too.
Time Limits – What is acceptable each day? And, more importantly, how do you measure it? Why not try an old egg timer next to the giant computer? This article gives a list of apps you can use to monitor screen time use on devices and even cut it off when it is excessive.
So . . . I’ll let you know how our discussion goes. But, for now, those are just a couple of thoughts. Let us know what works for you. How do you limit screen time for your teens, or even younger kids?