Parents, do you ever feel like you don’t know where to start when it comes to introducing technology beyond the TV with your kids? Counselors and youth pastors, do you ever struggle to communicate clear steps in helping parents guide their children in the informed use of their devices? Raising Kids in a Screen Saturated World by Eliza Huie is a great resource for parents, counselors, youth and children’s pastors, and anyone who desires to inform, empower and engage our kids about the use of technology in their daily lives.
In her book, Raising Kids in a Screen Saturated World, Eliza gives five tips to readers that are understandable and immediately applicable to one’s home life. These tips are:
- Model digital discipline and courtesy
- When to give a device to your child
- Remember you are the parent
- Know Your Enemy
- Enjoying and Engaging with Screens
Whether you are just getting started on this journey of technology with your kids or if you’ve allowed more access on devices than you’d prefer, you come away with insight to help you strategize a more beneficial plan for you, your children and your family as a whole.
Huie starts off by noting that as parents we must model discipline and courtesy with our own devices so that our children see a healthy and balanced use of technology in our own lives. For example, she asks, “Do your kids see that there are certain places your phone does not come out?” She continues, “Godly stewardship of technology starts with your example.” We need to realize that the presence of screens impacts the social dynamic of any situation. Even on silent mode, the phone can be a distraction as an alert comes through. So in other words, “If you can make your device less dominant in your home and model of loving engagement, then when they [kids] are faced with similar situations they have the example of how to do the same.”
The author also includes reflective questions at the end of each chapter. One of the biggest take-aways is being proactive and preparing your children for the world of technology. For instance, teaching your children that what they share online is online forever. Teaching them the responsibility of a cell phone with things as basic as the cost, data plans, privacy and staying safe online. Your child having a phone requires you to be fully involved in the process; from installing apps, deleting content and social media use. It is important to train our kids how to use devices and social media platforms appropriately so that they learn to be wise stewards and users of technology.
Another highlight of her book is Huie’s ability to help parents feel empowered and equipped to lead their children in this digital territory that can be overwhelming for us. Even if we’ve made mistakes or wish to change our minds, Eliza helps the reader to know it’s ok to make changes (just realize there will probably be push back). We are learning too just as our kids are learning and that’s ok. The crux of giving our children their own device is not necessarily a matter of a specific age but rather how. How well have we prepared them before they have their own personal device to steward it well, to think about it and engage with it in a healthy way.
One of the things I appreciate most about this book is that Huie doesn’t demonize technology and call for parents to completely eliminate its usage. Instead, Huie helps the reader to develop a more intentional view of technology; a perspective that dethrones technology as the centerpiece of family life and instead allows it to be a tool used for good, for connection, for learning and helping others. And when times of inappropriate material come our way, we teach our children how to handle those situations (as they are a matter of when not if). When we as parents feel equipped to help our children utilize and engage with technology in productive ways rather than have our lives saturated with screens, remember, He is at work in us and that in His mercy, He causes us to want to live a life that is saturated with His purposes for His glory and the good of others.
I definitely recommend this concise and insightful book. It is immediately practical without being extreme or overly theological about the topic of technology.