The Weekly Review

by Chris Bowler

Raising Children in the Age of Distraction

Our eldest just turned twelve and all sorts of new challenges are on the horizon. My wife and I laugh at how things seemed to be so hard raising toddlers and newborns, where they needed your help with every little thing, every day. But now that all our kids are mostly self-sufficient, the help they require is so much more complex and far more time consuming.

Digital habits is one that is looking me straight in the eye. Our kids spend less time on a screen that many children do in our current times, but I’m less concerned with an exact quantity and more focused on the urges behind the desire to use our devices. On the habits that are being built. This is now a focus with our daughter.

We gave her an iPad for her birthday. Partly for school work and partly to stay in touch with friends, she now has a Google account and an iCloud account. She loves to chat with friends and send them emails. She loves to browse Pinterest and use Google to look up details about her favourite show and download images. But she also does not have a phone yet, so no texting so far, and she’s never heard of Snapchat or WhatsApp or the rest … I know, we’re a weird family.

Like most things in life, the current status and her “digital habits” have come into place organically. As more school assignments were completed on a computer, the desire to use the computer increased. Now I find myself wanting to teach her about the dangers of the desire to be connected. Yet, this is hard as I still struggle with it myself. I feel unqualified to caution her about how the Internet and its various distractions can harm our ability to focus and go deep, how tools like email and social media can be as addictive as slot machines, and why caution is appropriate.

My plan? To be honest and share my own struggles, how being connected as changed my habits, my brain itself, and how I attempt to be disciplined. From there, I’ll let her start to set her own boundaries and see how things go.

And I’ll pray!

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