Black Chalkboard TextureIs technology bringing your family closer together or is it driving it further apart?

Joseph and Amanda have three children, ages 2, 6 and 10.  Their kids play video games and watch movies and television all day except for the time the older kids are in school.  Joseph and Amanda are very concerned about the amount of time their children spend in front of screens.  Yet they feel helpless and powerless to make a change.

“We have no guidelines,” said Joseph.  “We did have guidelines, but could not keep them in place.”

Can you identify with these discouraged parents?  You’ve tried to limit screen time in the past but the temper tantrums were too much to bear.  We have heard from hundreds of parents who’ve expressed their frustration with implementing digital guidelines.

“We have no rules and our kids watch a lot of TV and play video games.”

“Screen time rules aren’t stated; they’re implied and it’s not working.”

“I regret not having guidelines because my son missed out on socializing with people face to face.  He’s in his twenties and completely engrossed with being on his computer.”

Someday when your child becomes an adult, you want her to have all the skills necessary to succeed in her relationships.  The training necessary for growing up social isn’t found on a phone or tablet.  There’s no app or video game that can replace interactions with other human beings.  Social skills must be practiced in real life, beginning for a child in the home.

Having a social child means that your son or daughter will be able to talk to people and like people.  He’ll be able to relate to others around him and enjoy activities with friends and family members.  Being social isn’t just about making small talk in the cafeteria.  It involves showing other people you care through eye contact, conversation, and empathy.  The ideal place for a child to learn to be social is in his home, where a loving mother or father can model what healthy relationships look like.

Unfortunately, there is a subtle shift happening in many homes that is profoundly eroding the relationship between parent and child.  The average American child and teenager spends 53 hours a week with media and technology, far more time in front of screens than interacting with parents or people.  How is a growing child supposed to learn about getting along with others when the vast majority of her time is spent with a screen?

Is your child getting too much screen time?

Take this simple 10 question quiz and find out.  Give a score to each question using the following ratings:

0 = Never or rarely true

1 = Occasionally true

2 = Usually true

3 = Always true

____Your child is upset when you ask him to stop his screen activity to come to dinner or another activity.

____Your child asks you to buy a digital device such as an iPod after you have already said no.

____Your child has trouble completing his homework because he is busy watching television or playing video games.

____Your child refuses to help with chores around the house, choosing instead to play with screens.

___ Your child asks you to play a video game or other screen related activity after you have said no.

____Your child does not get 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

____Your child does not give frequent eye contact to others in the home.

____Your child would rather play video games than go outside to play with friends.

____Your child doesn’t really enjoy anything that does not involve screens.

____ If you restricted all screen use for one day, your child would be irritable and whiny.


If your child scores:

10 or below:  Your child does not appear to have too much screen time.  He seems able to exercise appropriate control and boundaries.

11-20:  Your child may be depending on screen time too much.  You will want to monitor screen time more judiciously and watch for growing reliance upon screens.

21-30:  Your child may be addicted to screens.  You may want to meet with a counselor, pastor, or parent that you respect for advice.

Did you score higher or lower than you thought on the quiz?

Arlene Pellicane

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