Do I use tech, or does tech use me?
Having conversations about healthy tech can be really difficult.
We somehow feel like the conversation is both way too big (there are SO many ways to misuse tech) and too small (am I supposed to micromanage my family?).
We have all kinds of doubts: What if I am making too big a deal about this? Am I just out of step with modern times? Is the fight really worth it?
On top of that, people are so sensitive about their tech use! When someone comments on our tech use it is as though they are talking about who we are at our core. The average conversation about tech correction in my family goes something like this:
My Wife: “Honey, you are on that device a lot…”
Me: “Take the plank out of your own eye! (insert list of times I’ve noticed her make mistakes in tech use…)”
Maybe that’s just me…but however your family handles such conflicts it’s important to remember that not everyone who enjoys entertainment tech (social media, shows, videos, or games) is unhealthy. In fact a majority of such use is probably fine. This 13 question self-check is to help us remember that our tech needs to line up with our full potential. Our question needs to be: Why are am I using tech? Is it for:
.Creating, Connecting, or Designing?
.Work or Play?
The 13 questions below will help us clarify WHY we use our tech. At the end of the day we are to do everything for the glory of the Lord (1 Cor. 10:31), and that includes our tech use.
Start a Conversation
The 13 questions below are intended to start a conversation about healthful and balanced tech. The focus isn’t asking “gotcha” questions or trying to win an argument. The goal is helping your child reach their full potential. Anything that distracts them from who they can become isn’t healthy. These questions will help see if tech is unhealthy and open doors for future growth.
Set a time with your child to talk over these 13 questions. This can while driving, walking, or eating dinner. The goal is open communication. As parents this means we need to model what we want to see from our children. The more willing we are to share our tech strengths and foibles, the more likely our young people will engage in meaningful conversation with us.
Please be sure you ask yourself these questions before asking anyone else.
So How Do We Spot Unhealthy Tech Use?
This is not a comprehensive list. Yet these 13 self-check questions will help begin the conversation about how we can use tech and love God, not the other way around.
1. Think about technology even when you’re not using it?
2. Use technology instead of doing other important tasks?
3. Struggle to set a time limit for playing and keep it?
4. Lose track of time while on technology?
5. See negative impacts in other areas of your life?
6. Hide, or ever felt a need to hide, your technology use from others?
7. Escape reality with technology? Do you use tech to feel happier?
8. Feel upset or frustrated when you can’t use technology?
9. Get defensive when people try to talk to you about your tech habits?
10. Spend more than a healthy amount of money on technology? (instead of other necessities)
11. Feel like the time you get on entertainment technology just isn’t enough to feel happy?
12. Do you feel conflicted about technology? You like it but also feel you’re wasting time/money?
13. Joke about the negative effects of technology (hangman’s humor)? (“When that game comes out that’ll be a week of life I’ll never see again…”, “I didn’t choose the gaming life, the gaming life chose me.”)
REFLECT – RESET
Each “yes” in this list will fit in one of the five RESET categories (we cover these in more detail elsewhere):
Ask your child to put which category they believe their yes fits into. This is an excellent tool for helping hone your conversation so you can focus on specific areas of need and not just on tech in general.
Story of My Life
Take my life several years ago as an example: I gamed fewer than 10 hours a week but was extremely unhealthy. How did I know? Gaming took up all of my free thought and impacted the amount of joy I had in a day.
My Self-Check turns up a “yes” in 12/13 questions. My areas of impact are Enjoyment, Sleep and Time. Knowing this helps me, and those who love me, dig into how my drool tech impacts my life and what solutions may work best.
Review your personal Self-Check with your child and apply it to your own RESET.
Ask your child to share their answers and apply it to their RESET.
Walk through a conversation about where your tech is a benefit and where it is a distraction. If you’re feeling brave: Ask your child to grade you on your Self-Check and RESET. It’s possible they will have helpful insights for your health, and you’ll earn the right to be heard as you fight for your child in this tech world, not with them.
- The University of Indiana: http://www.indiana.edu/~engs/hints/addictiveb.html
- The American Society for Addictive Medicine: http://www.asam.org/for-the-public/definition-of-addiction
- Video Game Addiction.org: http://www.video-game-addiction.org/symptoms-computer-addiction-teens.html on 9/13/2014
- Gary Stollman: http://www.drphil.com/articles/article/685 on 9/13/2014)
- University of Texas at Dallas: Computer Addiction http://www.utdallas.edu/counseling/computeraddiction/
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