How can my family be together?
This chapter is so interesting to me, its about attention and presence. In a world where we believe that presence is so important to spiritual relationship.
But also as we see, so important to human relationships.
I think this chapter hinges off of the idea in this quote "When we are on vacation with our families, our various devices are like ocean currents that can cause us to drift apart from each other. At home, the tidal wave of technology that pulls us in separate directions is usually even stronger. In the midst of the challenges of finding tech-free shelter in an uber-tech world, the goal of this chapter is to help you create healthy media rituals and routines that fit your family and works with the ebbs and flows of your unique schedule."
This goal is a good one and I think it will look different for each and every person and it may even look different in different seasons.
But I would encourage you, to find holy rhythms, even as parents, to connect with your kids, and invite them into the same space. Because this chapter touches on something I think is a bit overlooked when we think about kids and tech.
"Kids live in a world filled with grown-ups who seem to be constantly checking or using their phones or laptops."
If we desire for kids to be engaged, so must us adults. In other words, adults must lead by example, and then invite kids into spaces where they are not going to be on digital media.
Or the quote from the son in the end of the chapter strikes me "Dad, I'm glad you didn't bring your phone. Now you can be with me a the game instead of telling all your friends on Facebook you're at the football game with me."
In short, Create spaces and rhythms in life free of tech, and lead by example.
Your kids are digital natives, you may be digital immigrants. I love this language because it captures the framework of understanding that the digital world is a place that is understood with nuance and degrees of complexity that only come with being born into a digital world.
When we realize that kids are digital natives we realize that their desire to always be on their phones may not be inherently bad or evil. The chapter points out that the digital world is what holds kids social lives, and social media platforms may be places of connection similar to the lunch room or how kids once called each others houses on landlines.
There is a level of social connection that is healthy for all kids, who are constantly asking themselves the question of "who am I", which is on repeat in their minds constantly. (Whether they recognize it or not)
So the chapter gives some general rules:
Place healthy limits on screen time: not all screens are evil but too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing.
Doctors suggest 2 hours of screen time a day, and recommend having "screen free" zones and times. Such as bedrooms and meal times.
Other recommendations: the magic age is 13, and being intentional with your kids, possibly creating a digital covenant.
Personally, this chapter takes a more gracious stance than I sometimes feel for social media, but I understand where they are coming from. I appreciate the compromise here, recognizing that digital engagement CAN be good. Often however, without intentionality, we allow it to take over our emotional and social lives without even realizing it.
I wish this chapter would stress just a bit more about healthy boundaries and limits to maintain healthy relationships with digital engagements. The 2 hour recommendation by doctors is fascinating to me, my hunch is that is much lower than most adults engagement.
I know other parents who give their kids the choice for social media at 15 and even encourage them against it, at that stage many kids choose to stay off of social media rather than ready to jump off.
I encourage you to think about what may be healthy for your situation, and whatever you do. Have intentional conversations with your students.
Grace and Peace,
Noah and Josiah write these!