Protecting Your Home from the Digital Invasion

“Mom, I can’t access “health and beauty” on Pinterest. I wanted to watch a hair braiding tutorial. Did you add another filter?” –words from my 13 year old daughter.

Oh, how far we’ve come with technology.

Hand holding smartphone with a blank screen

In 1997, I heard my first dial up to the Internet from the new shiny desktop computer in our first home. I got an email address.  It changed my world.

Way back when eBay was virtually unknown, I sold stuff to stay home with my first child. The Internet became an avenue for me to communicate and work without ever leaving my home (or getting out of my pajamas. Whatever.)

I know there are people in our culture who have opted out of owning a TV or a radio. They don’t stream Netflix or go to the movie theatre. They try to limit the influence of our culture. Believe me, I get this.

But most people in our society have access to the Internet at home. And many have it at their fingertips all the time from their phones to hand-held devices.

I wouldn’t be a blogger, an author or a non-profit founder without the Internet. It’s a big part of my life. And it’s the way of the future, from education to communication to hair care apparently, nearly every aspect of our lives is impacted and dependent upon technology. It’s great and my family embraces the digital age as much as the next.

But it’s scary because our generation of children have more access to technology than ever before. And with access, there is a barrage of negative images and information, we’d rather our children not be exposed to. As parents, we have to monitor not only what our kids are exposed to, but also their access.

Side note: I will say that as much as we try and filter bad things from coming in, we simply cannot protect our children from every bad image out there. It’s not possible or realistic. Our children are curious, sexual beings (scary thought, isn’t it?). As they mature, it is completely normal for them to be interested in sexuality. So rather than stick our heads in the sand and live in fear of them seeing a nasty image, we do what we can to filter and then we talk to them about what they will eventually be exposed to in some way. We explain through grace that the emotional and sexual feelings they are tempted with are NORMAL and most importantly, we offer them solutions on what to do with their curious thoughts by teaching them self control.

But today, I’m talking about establishing digital boundaries in your home.

My husband asked me to listen to this podcast the other day by authors Dr. Arch Hart and Dr. Sylvia Frejd, who co-authored the book Digital Invasion, The: How Technology Is Shaping You and Your Relationships. Let me tell you, I was convicted. Because my job is on the Internet and it takes a lot of restraint (which sometimes I display and sometimes I don’t) to turn off technology.

While we heavily monitor what our kids are exposed to and over filter everything (I’ll share our favorite one tomorrow), we need to turn it off more. It’s our responsibility as parents to monitor good use of technology in front of our kids. I read a quote once about a mom gossiping about another mom who was on her iPhone the entire time during a birthday party. One of the ladies in the group responded, “Just think about how busy that mom must be to be on her phone. Isn’t it awesome she’s at the party?” Honestly, it made me feel less guilty about taking that important skype conversation in Kenya or sending the email regarding an issue at Mercy House.

But at the same time, no matter how busy we are, there is technology etiquette I want to establish in my home and model for my kids. As encouraged by Dr. Hart and Frejd:

 Establish Digital Boundaries

  1. Don’t check your phone while you are in a conversation (My kids don’t have smart phones or email, but some day they will. For now they are watching my husband and I).
  2. Don’t check your email/phone before you read your Bible (ouch)
  3. Take regular fasts from technology
  4. Set a time limit (see below)
  5. Time limits below might be shocking, so start by cutting whatever your kids are currently doing in half

According to America Academy of Pediatrics, based on research, this is the amount of time our children should be viewing technology (TV, games, computers, etc):

  • 0-2 years old-zero technology
  • 3-5 years-1 hour a day
  • 6-12 years-90 minutes a day
  • 13-19 years-2 hours a day *Most kids spend over 8 hours a day on technology

Of course, I realize that isn’t always practical. There are sick days and long, hard mom days (I KNOW, BELIEVE ME). But I think once we become aware of how much are kids are interacting with technology, we can evaluate if it’s too much.

(Here’s what is already on our etiquette list):

  1. Don’t bring technology to the dinner table
  2. We allow 30 minutes of mindless TV during the school week and 30 minutes of (educational) computer time or games and we are more lax on Saturdays
  3. Observe media free time every Sunday until 5pm

A recent study that interviewed 1000 kids from the ages of 4-18, showed these results: Technology is becoming a kind of “co-parent;” too much screen time is impeding childhood development; and parents’ obsession with their devices is harming communication with their children and even fracturing families.

“Children hate it when their parents pick them up and are on their phones and don’t even turn to say, ‘Hi honey, how was your day?’ Instead they’re giving them the shhh one minute signal which basically says ‘you’re not as important to me as whoever this other person on the phone is.’ Car rides to and from school as well as dinner, bath and reading time — parents should be present and phone-free for all of these daily rituals, she says. “Kids do not need our undivided attention all day long, but they do in those real-life moments of talking and reading and doing the hard work of parenting — dealing with meltdowns, teaching them how to pick up their clothes.” The bottom line: If you think your kids don’t notice that you’re distracted, you’re deluding yourself.”  The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital AgeCatherine Steiner-Adair EdD

And that quote alone, makes me want to unplug from technology and plug into my children.

Do you have technology etiquette in your home?


Comments

  1. Jennifer says

    This is unbelievable timely – yeah God! We have always been restrictive on media time during the school week (we don’t home school, they go to a private Anglican school) but for the first time last week they lost the privilege of iPad and TV and it was an AMAZING week! Everything was calmer, we were all nicer, creative juices were flowing (they had in impromptu Spelling Bee, made Maths books) and we are not looking back! I told my husband, who works very long hours and is not around for any of our day or evening, that our media-free week was wonderful and we’ve agreed that our new family rule is no iPad or TV Monday to Thursday! LOVE!

  2. says

    Hi Kristen, I read your blog often but have never posted before. However, this is near and dear to my heart. I blog over at Why We Web which is an organization that has been created to educate Christian families and churches in the area of the digital world. Would it be ok if I linked to this blog post from my own post over there? Here’s the link. http://www.whyweweb.com if you want to check it out. Keep up the good work!

  3. Heather S. says

    We definitely have technology etiquette. We do not bring our phones or anything to the dinner table. We won’t even answer our home phone during a meal. It is sacred time to us. I use technology more than anyone in my family and sometimes it can be a struggle to remind myself that I don’t have to grab my phone with every text, or WORD played. ;)
    This is an excellent reminder for all of us moms. It creeps in, even if we’re aware and diligent. We must constantly be reminded.

  4. Laura P says

    My favorite part of this article is the AAP’s recommendation on screen/technology, which completely flies in the face of all of the school reforms happening in this country. SOOOO much more time will be spent on computers and IPads in KINDERGARTEN. So much for the 5-6 year old set getting only 60-90 minutes a day. If they are “learning” on IPads and then coming home and having any sort of screen time a day….yikes. So glad computer is just a special and doesn’t start until 3rd grade!

  5. Sally says

    Oh my……….drives me crazy to see parents drop their children off at school without even a break in their phone conversation. What is so important that early in the morning??? I would think the children should be!

  6. says

    Great post! Can you share a link to the podcast? My husband and I have been talking about doing this, but we’re just beginning to create our household rules about it.

  7. says

    http://www.wholesaletvsupplier.comLed tv for salehttp://www.wholesaletvsupplier.comPlasma TVshttp://www.wholesaletvsupplier.comwhere to buy tvhttp://www.wholesaletvsupplier.combuy led onlinehttp://www.wholesaletvsupplier.comall the best tvhttp://www.wholesaletvsupplier.combrand tv for salehttp://www.wholesaletvsupplier.comwholesale tv supplierhttp://portclydefishcoop.comMichael Kors outlethttp://portclydefishcoop.comMichael Kors outlet onlinehttp://portclydefishcoop.comMichael Kors Black Fridayhttp://mkblackfriday2013.commichael kors Black Fridayhttp://mkblackfriday2013.commichael kors Cyber Mondayhttp://snowblackfriday2013.com/ugg boots Cyber Mondayhttp://snowblackfriday2013.com/Ugg boots Black Friday

  8. says

    Hi there I am so excited I found your weblog, I really found
    you by accident, while I was searching on Aol for
    something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say thanks a
    lot for a marvelous post and a all round thrilling blog (I
    also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at the minute but I have saved it and also included your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep up the fantastic job.

  9. says

    http://www.wholesaletvsupplier.comLed tv for salehttp://www.wholesaletvsupplier.comPlasma TVshttp://www.wholesaletvsupplier.comwhere to buy tvhttp://www.wholesaletvsupplier.combuy led onlinehttp://www.wholesaletvsupplier.comall the best tvhttp://www.wholesaletvsupplier.combrand tv for salehttp://www.wholesaletvsupplier.comwholesale tv supplierhttp://portclydefishcoop.comMichael Kors outlethttp://portclydefishcoop.comMichael Kors outlet onlinehttp://portclydefishcoop.comMichael Kors Black Fridayhttp://mkblackfriday2013.commichael kors Black Fridayhttp://mkblackfriday2013.commichael kors Cyber Mondayhttp://snowblackfriday2013.com/ugg boots Cyber Mondayhttp://snowblackfriday2013.com/Ugg boots Black Friday

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>