And that’s when I knew I had a problem.
My 2 year old was running towards me in a panic, “Daddy, Daddy! You’re Phone!” “What’s wrong?”, I asked. “You need to put it in your pocket!” she emphatically responded.
My daughter had, through observation of my behavior, come to the conclusion that I was not complete without my cell phone attached to me in some way. It was as much a part of me as anything else she observed. It was a deep concern for my well-being that told her an immediate reaction was necessary when she found my phone on my nightstand and I was in the other room.
This became a consistent pattern and had me thinking about what I was modeling to my very new-to-the-world daughter. What have I already shown her about the way the world works? Did I just screw myself for the teenage years? Now when she has a phone attached to her and won’t pay attention to her family, is there where it all began?
The folks over at Fuller Youth Institute just shared some research I think you will find worth your time to read. They interviewed “50 amazing parents” and published a book based on their findings in relation to what they call “Sticky Faith”. Basically, faith that stands the test of time. Faith that sticks long after the kids leave the nest.
If you’re interested in the book, you can find it here: The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family: Over 100 Practical and Tested Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Kids
Here’s a portion of what they found when it comes to technology use in the home:
One of the most dominant themes in our fifty parents’ descriptions of their homes is that they limit their kids’ use of technology.
These boundaries are needed because of the way young people today are marinated in media.
Let’s consider together a generation whose lives are heavily flavored by technology:
• Fifty-eight percent of this generation possess a desktop computer.
• Sixty-one percent own a laptop.
• Eighteen percent use a tablet or e-reader.
But the real king of all technology is the device in their pocket. Almost 90 percent of this generation carry a cell phone. 1
When asked to describe their cell phone in one word, this generation answered, “Awesome,” “Great,” “Good,” “Love,” “Excellent,” “Useful,” and “Convenient.” 2
You might be thinking that some of those words don’t sound very adolescent. Especially the words useful and convenient. That’s because the generation I’m describing isn’t teenagers. It’s adults.
Are young people avid users of technology? You bet. But the data suggests that while teenagers may be digital natives, we adults are fast-adapting digital immigrants. Before we judge teenagers for their quick-texting thumbs and seemingly permanent earbuds, we adults need to put down our smartphones and think about our own media consumption.
Eighty-three percent of young people are involved in social networking. So are 77 percent of their parents. 3
– See more of the article here: Parents’ Smartphones: Sticky Faith Builder or Breaker?
When I read this article, it was just like my 2 yr old running up to me again. For a time, I was very cognizant of how I was using technology. My wife and I even discussed a “technology basket” where we dropped our phones or iPads when we were in the family room with the girls. This is especially important when we get home from work and they so greatly desire our attention.
I hate to admit it, but the conviction has waned and the old habits resurfaced.
What about you? Do you feel like you have adopted the same practices you complain that your children have? Do you feel like technology is hampering your communication? Or you may feel like technology has improved your communication?
Either way, I think it is important to evaluate our relationship with technology from time to time. I know I need to. I encourage you to take some time this week and evaluate the role of technology in your home to see what you find.
If you feel the need to make some changes, I’ve written on ideas for restricting technology use and you can find those thoughts here: Raising Kids in the Digital Age – Part 3
I would encourage you to read part 1 of the series as well, so you can understand the heart behind the restrictions. The last thing I want to do is encourage you to do something that drives a wedge in the relationship and I think part 1 will help you understand the “why” behind the restrictions and better approach conversations with your son or daughter.
(I mention the use of a family agreement in the restrictions. Here’s an article with an example of one family’s contract with their son – http://fulleryouthinstitute.org/blog/cell-phone-contract)
Feel free to share how you’ve navigated these waters in your own family in the comments below!