Laptops, cell phones, tablets, and computer screens have all improved our lives, right?
Or maybe not.
As a mom of seven, who has teenagers, as well as a baby, I’ve experienced what parenthood is like with and without technology. When I compare my mothering experience back then to how it is today, I see and experience a challenge today that was never an issue before.
Think back to when you were a teenager. If you are even close to my age, not everyone had a laptop. They were super expensive and heavy! Most people didn’t have a personal cell phone and texting hadn’t been invented or taught to the public yet. Most people still had landline telephones and MAYBE one family cell phone for emergencies. I remember how hard it seemed for older family members to get on the bandwagon of texting. It reminds me of when internet and email became available to the public. They were new tools to learn and not everyone used them. It’s just so different from today and it wasn’t all that long ago.
As a young mom, I didn’t have the luxury that everyone seems to have now of having a cell phone. I say luxury, but really sometimes I think it is more of a burden than a luxury.
Everyone in society has become so attached to their devices, expecting immediate responses and instant availability from others. There is a time-sensitive selfishness growing among this generation.
Mothers and fathers are trying to live their real lives while trying to participate in the new world of social media and it isn’t always easy for everyone.
As moms and dads, we are called to set an example for our children of what we expect from them regarding internet use, social media engagement, and the usage of mobile devices.
So, here I am starting the parenting journey over again. And I am thankful for my experience as a mom 17 years ago, cell phone free, and mobile device distraction free. I have found that remembering the sweetness of an undistracted home has been a motivation for me to fight for a similar peace in my home today.
Remember that Jim Elliot quote,
“Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”
I look at my older kids now, and I love them. I love my teenagers, my young adults! Not only do I love them, I like them! I like hanging out with them, I like interacting with them throughout the day. I observe what kind of friend they are to others and I just like them. They are good at communicating, at making eye contact, and expressing their thoughts verbally in a way that leaves room for grace, even when they disagree. They are respectful, kind, and generous with their attention. They are good listeners and not generally given to laziness.
I don’t share this with you because I am trying to boast. I share this with you because they are my motivation to be careful with how I spend my time. Watching them grow has impressed upon me a sense of urgency. I remember thinking, when my oldest was ten years old, “Oh my goodness, we only have eight years left with her.” Now I only have two and a half to make sure she is as prepared for all aspects life as I possibly can!
But even more so than the reality of how fast our children grow, I look at my older kids, whom I like and love and I think to myself, they are great unique individuals, they are their own person, but I, along with their father nurtured them all these years. We taught them, trained them, discipled them, disciplined and delighted in them.
Good kids don’t just happen. They are brought up. There isn’t a formula or any book, other than the good book, that can guide you in all your ways as a parent. But one thing I am fighting for is that same undistracted atmosphere that nurtures the relationships that influence, teach, and challenge those little people to become the good, kind-hearted, mature teenagers who love Jesus and model so many of His character qualities.
I am scared for the next generations.
I am scared for the children that are raised by the generations that don’t even know how to leave their phones in another room for a few hours, or a day.
I am scared for the parents that are raising children while they are scrolling endlessly through their newsfeeds because they are missing a crucial season to build strong relationships with their children and it will cost them in the long run.
I am scared for the marriages of these future children who were not taught, by practicing it, how to communicate hurt, conflict, and disagreements verbally in a kind way.
I am scared for the kids that don’t know how to make eye contact or feel like their mom’s phone is more important to her than they are.
We may NOT know now just how much of an impact the distraction of technology will have future generations, and it starts with us, parents!
Will our children’s generation have an even HIGHER rate of divorce? But instead of financial reasons being the main cause, will it be adultery due to pornography addiction, or escapism and adultery of their hearts which are addicted to an online social world?
Will distracted or unengaged parenting be identified as the main cause for low self-esteem and suicide in children in the future?
Will the children of today be prepared for the future of tomorrow while parents are sitting on their devices for hours instead of teaching them how to do something, build something, or learn something?
Will screen addiction, of parents, or children, be labeled the main reason for syndromes and diseases like ADD, ADHD, depression or anger in children?
How are technology and the world of mobile devices influencing the next generation? In some ways for good, such as bringing family members who are geographically far apart, so much closer, but in other ways such as screen addiction, only time will tell.
Questions to ask ourselves:
1. Do I respond to my husband/wife and children as quickly and kindly as I do those online?
2. Do I stop and make eye contact with my husband/wife and children just to tell them I love them and to ask them how they are doing? Remember that you are valuing and building your relationship when you make eye contact.
3. You are modeling and teaching your children how to communicate. Are you scrolling while they are trying to talk to you?
4. Am I intentionally modeling for my children what I expect from them regarding usage of online tools and devices? Please, please don’t be a hypocrite. Don’t be one of those parents are a “do as I say, not as I do” type.
5. What activities might you, your spouse, or your children be hiding and doing on one of these mobile devices?
Health Risks of Mobile Devices
Aside from the relational dysfunctions that can be exaggerated in a family because of mobile devices, there are also health risks.
Back when I was a younger momma, we were told not to allow our babies to even look at the television until they were at least 12 months old. Nowadays you see 10 month olds playing with their moms iPhones in the grocery store and some even teething on them.
I noticed a few posts floating around out there on EMF and then I did some research of my own and was SHOCKED!
Did you know that EMF rays can not only cause cancer and burns but also damage DNA and cause INFERTILITY in both boys and girls?!
Talk about a side effect! And there are more side effects according to Homemade Mommy. In her article, she explains how mobile device radiation can cause dizziness, impaired motor skills, memory loss, sleep disturbances, and cancer in children.
I found a tool that can help protect our children from these crazy damaging EMF rays. The DefenderShield Pad for laptops, tablets, and cell phones.
Watch this compelling video by DefenderShield.
Obviously, there are many things to consider when modeling for our children and teaching them how to use devices. This really deserves an ongoing conversation. My desire is to make other parents aware of the consequences of using and letting our children overuse devices. Not only is there obvious harm, which we can not truly know the ramifications of since they have only been available to the public for the last 20 years or so, but there are spiritual and relational reasons as well.
For the sake of my children’s future spouses, your children and their future spouses, would you consider sharing this post to start the discussion on a larger level?
What boundaries do you have in your home for mobile devices? What is God tugging on your heart concerning screen time?
Praying for you as we are all on this journey of life, trying to figure it out one step at a time.