Do you ever feel guilty when you let your kids watch a show on TV or play on a tablet? You’ve probably read articles that warn about the dangers of screen time. Some of them are so foreboding they can leave you reeling! Perhaps some days you think “moderation in everything!” After a thought-provoking article, you may say “maybe we’ll detox from screens for a while.” Other moments you’re ready to chuck the whole thing and move to the North Pole (is there TV there? I don’t even know.) Well, I have some refreshing news for you, dear parents. We should be embracing screen time!
Embracing Screen Time
When “screen time” comes up in a conversation, it’s enough to make most of us cringe, feeling we’re probably missing the mark here somehow. And (dare I say it?) there is also a little pride that creeps into those conversations, on either side, when we start talking about how we handle screen time in our homes. But we don’t have to cringe. Yes, limits and defined expectations are important. Unbridled screen time usage is NOT in our family’s best interest and really can cause a lot of problems for our kids. We should always be thinking about those things and adjusting for our family’s best interest, such as ensuring there is plenty of screen-free play and family time. On the other hand, there are also great teachable opportunities in screen time! How your family handles screen time opens up wonderful opportunities – in content, in godly character, and in shepherding their hearts. Here are four aspects to keep in mind as you navigate this issue with your family.
1. Make it Meaningful
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8
- Content matters – WHAT our kids watch is just as important, if not more so than how much. Choose wisely and make choices that enhance your children’s lives in a Godward direction.
- Reinforce your values – Avoid shows that work against your family’s values. Also, make an effort to bring the most worthy and edifying content into your home! That’s one reason our family is a huge fan of Minno and What’s in the Bible?. No going wrong there! What’s in the Bible? is even a part of our regular Bible homeschool curriculum!
- Make it a family activity – Screen time is a great time to come together as a family. Practice developing a critical eye on content, themes, and what the underlying messages are of a movie or show. Find what points to Christ and identify what doesn’t. You’ll be teaching your children to consume media more wisely!
2. Teach (& Practice) Moderation & Stewardship
“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
- Communicate and enforce expectations – Talk with your spouse and determine a set of reasonable expectations when it comes to screen time. Perhaps limit it to content like Minno, certain days and times, or limits on duration. Be consistent and enforce the expectations you communicate! Children need this.
- Teach self-control in all things – Do a family Bible study on moderation and self-control. Talk about how too much of a thing can be a bad thing, and how that applies to screen time. Give them practical tips on how they can practice self-control. Pray together regularly that God would guide them in this area of their lives.
- Teach stewardship of time and attention – Whatever we choose to do with our hours is an issue of stewardship. Entertainment is a good thing, but spending our time and attention on something that does not honor the Lord is not. These are worthwhile discussions to have with your kids!
3. Consider Their Hearts
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23
- What goes in… Kids really do absorb the attitudes and ideas that they consume from screen time. Be very aware of this as you are selecting content and establishing expectations of what media they can participate in inside and outside of your home.
- Effects of unwise media use – If your kids have had too much screen time, you probably will know it when the grouchy attitudes strike, especially when it’s time for them to turn it off. You can also observe their attitudes and actions after certain shows and see how the content influenced them. Study your kids and be aware of what boundaries you may want to set for them individually.
4. Pray for Guidance
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Ultimately, the choices you make for screen time in your home is between you and the Lord. You are stewards of these precious children! God placed them purposefully with you. He will equip and instruct you to make the decisions that are right for your family. Above all things seek the Lord, praying earnestly for His direction, and He will give you the wisdom you desire in this area of your parenting.
I’m Tauna! This is me: Jesus follower, wife, mom, [domestically challenged] homemaker, homeschooler, and writer. Join me at ProverbialHomemaker.com, where I work to bring you encouragement and tools for the journey. Let us pursue God’s call on our lives (no matter the learning curve) and rely on Him to equip us for the task! Connect with Tauna on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.