How do I know if my child’s tech use is healthy? We can actually know fairly quickly. We start by asking a simple question:
Does their tech use get in the way of their relationships and responsibilities?
I’ve talked previously about how there are really two types of tech: Tool Tech and Drool Tech. Today we’re dealing primarily with Drool Tech because of it’s three main features: A high rate of stimulation, pre-programmed rewards, and passivity in the process. Often when our tech use impedes healthy relationships and responsibilities it’s because we’re consuming when we could be creating.
Let’s start with relationships. When you look at your child’s relationships, do you see them:
- withdraw from family relationships in order to engage in drool tech?
- distance friends because of their digital pursuits?
- replace real world friends with online friends?
- choose to focus only on those who like – effectively creating a digital cloister?
If you answered yes to one or more of these then there are symptoms of potential problems. It is important to remember that symptoms don’t mean we’ve found a cause fo the problem, only a place to start our conversation. There are plenty of people who turn to drool tech for escape from other issues, so relational isolation is like a fever – simply fixing it won’t make the real problem go away. But, much like the fever, we also lovingly choose to not simply let it go unchecked.
Let’s look at the second question: When you look at your child’s responsibilities, do you see them:
- struggle to keep up with family expectations: family dinners and hangouts, chores, conversations, and other aspects of normal family life in your home?
- drop out of commitments they’d made outside the home: School work, sports, hangouts with friends?
- miss opportunities to serve, grow, and develop as a young person because of their drool tech use?
- slowing their pursuit of interests that used to be valuable to them: family, faith, friends, and their dreams for the future?
Again, a yes to any of these shows a symptom of unhealthy tech.
RESET #1: A great place to start
If you said “yes” to any of these questions you have a wonderful spot to start a conversation with your young one. Remember, your child isn’t a problem to fix, they’re a person to love. This means that you don’t need all the answers and you don’t have to be perfect in your tech use.
So What Now?
Start a conversation with your child about your love for them, their tech use, and their potential. You can simply start with these words:
“Honey, I love you and I see the amazing gifts God has given you. You are amazing at ______, _______, and ________, and I love watching you grow in these areas.
I’m concerned because I’ve seen __________ (name the tech activity) seems to get in the way of your _____________ (whichever responsibilities / relationships have been impacted).
God tells us that we are all sinners (Ephesians 2:1) but that didn’t stop Jesus for dying for us (Romans 5:8). In fact, it’s only because of Jesus we get to show up at the party at all (Matthew 22:1-14)!
Because this is true I want to talk with you about what we can do to help our family love God, use tech, and be all God’s made us to be.”
Until next time:
Remember, you’re not the one who will fix your child’s heart. Our job as parents is to love them, model humility in Christ, and never be an example of God’s love that never lets them wander off easily (Psalm 139, Matthew 18:12). In the process God will show us how much we need him, and we will all be better able to love God and use tech.