Raising Children : To Tech or Not to Tech

Online articles claim that children need freedom with gadgets, but i know a number of teens who spend their lives on their phones, spurn their families, and suffer from emotional problems. Even amid the trappings of our tech-obsessed culture, children’s connections to family and school are still the most important factors in their lives. In other words, it’s time we get back to the basics.

There are other elements of raising healthy children, including engaging kids in creative and outdoor play, and showing them what it means to be a good friend. We also need to teach kids self-control and how to use technology productively. Yet, children are better able to acquire these abilities if they have strong connections with family and school. Children learn the value of nature when parents expose them to the outdoors. And kids acquire self-control, or grit, by persevering through challenging school assignments.

Too many parents these days are engrossed in their work or their social lives that they leave their children almost always with the house help and chances are they are either watching TV, online or playing video games more than 8 hours a day which is a recipe for disaster.

My wife and I always get our smartphones destroyed because our kids seem to have shares in these phones.  My son likes playing games and my daughter loves watching dolly videos. Because either my wife or myself are always there with the children we constantly try to monitor the content of what we download for them as it can’t be too violent or too sexy.  It’s not easy because some games and videos mask to look innocent when they are not. Even when they are up and about our TV will almost always be on cartoon channel and if we do watch our own programs we have to make sure it’s clean content. 

Family is the most important element of children’s lives — even in this world of gigabytes and terrabytes — because we are human first. We can’t ignore the science of attachment that shows our kids need lots of quality time with us. Such experiences shape children’s brains, and they foster our kids’ happiness and self-esteem, while diminishing the chances that they will develop behavior or drug problems. 

Second in importance only to family is children’s involvement with school. Nevertheless, some question the value of traditional schooling, claiming that in the digital age kids learn best through exposure to the latest gadgets. But, according to  Research , the value of a college education is actually increasing in recent decades, providing youth higher earning potential and significantly lowering their risks of unemployment or poverty. And how do colleges gauge admission? Not through high scores on video games or the number of social media friends, but instead by measuring kids’ understanding of the learning fundamentals taught in school, including the ability to read, write, and do math well.

As our children get to the age to start Grade 1, my wife and I have made a big decision that they must get into a good Christian based school with good values and academic record . It might cost more but it’s a sacrifice we need to make for their future. 

Too many parents are now the victims of Tech parenting. They are sold on getting tablets, smartphones, and other gadgets for their children with the promise that these will allow kids to contact family and get ahead in school. But soon after kids get the devices, they use them mainly for self-amusement. According to the research kids spend only 16 minutes a day using the computer at home for school; in contrast, younger children spend 5 ½ hours and teens 8 hours each day with entertainment screen and phone technologies. That extraordinary amount of time spent playing with devices is often at the expense of kids engaging with family, reading, and completing schoolwork.

Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother”

To be loving and engaged with our children, it’s best if parents and kids have lots of time away from devices to be fully present with one another. And to provide kids high expectations and limits, parents should not try to be their children’s friend, but rather understand that they have the responsibility to set tech limits (even when kids push back) to foster distraction-free family moments, reading, and study time. Always make time to teach children about God.

As new age parents,  let’s challenge ourselves to be there more for our children. They need us. They need our love,  guidance, care and discipline. It’s all for their own good,  for their future. 

Deuteronomy 6:6‭-‬7 “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Wilbert Frank Chaniwa – @wilbertfc

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