Guidelines, Not Guilt

Laura
Laura

You are never going to believe this!

Laura
Virginia

What?

Laura
Laura

Jesse was out walking with his friend after school a few weeks back and his friend told him that a fellow student was able to google things by using voice-to-text tools on the Chromebooks AT SCHOOL!!!! 😡

Laura
Virginia

Oh my goodness! Aren’t they too young for that stuff?

Laura
Laura

Well, they are 8 and it’s 2019 so who knows, but I’m just not ok with that! Does this make me “old fashioned”? Should I even care about this?

Laura
Virginia

Yes! There are so many things on the Internet that even adults have no business seeing. I don’t think it’s old fashioned. Of course the Internet didn’t exist when we were kids. We’d steal library books to look at naughty things.

Laura
Laura

Oh, Virginia! You didn’t?! You stole library books?!😂😂 I’m sure you were like me and would never have done something like that on your own, right?

Laura
Virginia

I was too much of a good girl to do that but a couple of my friends did. We fifth graders were curious about things we could never ask our parents! The difference is that we didn’t have all this free accessible information that we have now.

Laura
Laura

Free and accessible. That combination of words strikes fear into my heart. I get a little disgusted when I think about everything that is out there. I mean the library ain’t got nothin’ on the internet!

Laura
Virginia

So do we just get off the grid entirely or cancel our electricity? That’s starting to sound good with what your son experienced.

Laura
Laura

Yes! Let’s do it! I’m burying my computer in the backyard next to the dead tortoise and exchanging my smart phone for a landline. Who needs the headache?

Laura
Virginia

Lol! I’m going to need to leave for preschool drop off much earlier if we’re going by horse and buggy.

Laura
Laura

😂😂🐴🐴 Ok… we’ve gone too far. There has to be a way to train our children in the way they should go in the age of Siri and Alexa.

Laura
Virginia

Alexa, teach my children how to use the Internet. Oh wait, that’s my job. I have to first teach myself how to slow down my own usage. Easier said than done!

Laura
Laura

Possibly the hardest job eva!!!! I was thinking about my own use of technology too. I was soooo sick this past winter. And I relied on my phone a lot to distract me from my aches and pains. I could not sleep and I could not take care of the boys despite there being 3 straight snow days, and I just checked out! I must have played 100 games of solitaire a day.

Laura
Virginia

That sounds awful! Technology does make some things easier but often it’s just because it’s easier to check Facebook than ask to participate in whatever game my child is playing. I don’t want to admit this but sometimes their games are confusing, frustrating, or just plain boring. When I’m not feeling well or I’m tired, I hand my kids technology because then they won’t bother me for half an hour.

Laura
Laura

I think you are right about that. Even when technology seems “good” or “innocent” like solitaire or the education apps I have on my phone or laptop (we don’t even have a tablet… maybe I am old fashioned?), all of it can take its toll on my attitude.

Laura
Virginia

I get that! I feel nauseous and cranky if I lay around and watch too much TV. Our bodies were made to move, not sit staring at screens. It’s that “b” word again: balance. There’s a time to be on my phone and time to run around and play with my kids.

What if I had my kids ask me what I’m doing every time I get on my phone? Now, that would be convicting! #ouch 😬

Laura
Laura

And speaking of convicting, do you get that weekly reminder about how many hours a day your phone has been on?

Laura
Virginia

Yes. It makes me squirm when it goes up. I can feel my phone silently judging me. 😒😜

Laura
Laura

Me too. It is such an in-your-face reality check! Why do you think we feel that way? Especially because as we were just saying, we know there are so many dangers out there!

Laura
Virginia

Because I have a double standard. I act like my kids need stricter limits than me. I also know what to stay away from. My kids just click from one video to the next and before you know it, they’re seeing something inappropriate. I don’t want to attack one particular app because we’re the moms. At home we really are in charge of what our kids are exposed to and we shouldn’t be afraid of our kids’ strong emotions if we decide to unplug it for them. What’s right for us is often not easy.

Laura
Laura

And this is especially tricky if I am looking at my screen when I should be looking at my kids. Modeling appropriate use is so hard. But there has to be a way.

Laura
Virginia

Yes. We need to model that we value our family, friends, fresh air, exercise, and reading paper books. Our kids will be more likely to follow our lead. And summertime is the perfect time to get started! Honestly, I really need to get into some good habits before winter circles back around and we’re stuck inside where tech is too tempting.

Laura
Laura

True! So about my Bible App… I can keep it right? There’s got to be some truth in there for me as I struggle with this dilemma…

Laura
Virginia

Definitely! There are many plans on there to learn about God and even one about kicking a smartphone addiction.

Laura
Laura

#irony

Laura
Virginia

Yeah, really. And yet I see Bible reading plans as one way to use my phone to honor God.

Laura
Laura

That’s a good way to look at it!

Laura
Virginia

I think God is happy when we read His Word no matter its form.

Laura
Laura

Well that’s good because I use my app a lot more than my print version. And I love that I can switch versions with a few taps to compare what different translations say! It really helps me study His Word better.

Laura
Virginia

Same here! Motives seem to be the central issue.

Laura
Laura

Yes. Asking ourselves each time we pick up our phones — is this good or necessary? Why am I turning this on right now? Can it wait? That might help us use our technology and our time better. What else? You’re on a roll!

Laura
Virginia

Thanks! 🙂 Those are great guiding questions. I’ve also been thinking that there are some really positive uses of our phones. Texting a friend a little encouragement, using informational apps like the weather so we know how to dress our kiddos for camp– these are good.

Laura
Laura

Or finding a recipe for dinner tonight. Or tracking summer reading minutes and titles with the library’s app. But there’s a lot of stuff on my phone that can lead me and my kids down a rabbit trail of wasted time which leads to those negative attitudes we talked about.

Laura
Virginia

Checking Facebook for the 10th time to avoid engaging with our kids – not so great.

Laura
Laura

Or playing solitaire, alone, when I could play Jenga or Trouble or Go Fish with the actual people who live in my house!

Laura
Virginia

Like anything else, it’s a tool. How we use it is what really matters.

Laura
Laura

So we aren’t having a funeral for my smartphone after all?

Laura
Virginia

Good point: no funeral, but it shouldn’t be an additional member of the family.

Laura
Laura

So we’ve used our phones and computers to write this post. Our motive was to encourage other moms and that’s a 👍!

Laura
Virginia

Alright, it’s time for a screen break. The sun doesn’t set until 9; I’ve got some kids to wear out with a long bike ride. I promise not to text and drive. 😄

Soaking in the Truth

Scripture to encourage you:

  • “Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:21, NIV)
  • “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27, NIV)
  • “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord.” (Proverbs 16:2, NIV)
  • “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things (Phiippians 4:8, NIV)

Music to inspire you:

Readings and Resources to come alongside of you:

Related Posts on Texting The Truth:

Living Out the Truth 

Ideas to try:

  • Check out Focus on the Family’s Plugged In movie reviews before you hit the theater or Red Box so you are informed as to the content and messages you will encounter.
  • Set a daily screen time limit. One parenting leader I follow recommends odd times because they are easy to remember, such as 18 or 27 minutes on a device.
  • Have kids work towards screen time. You can tie this to a certain number of books read or extra chores completed (rewarding with minutes instead of money).  I (Laura) have a list of things my boys need to do before any screen is allowed to be turned on.
  • Think about some ways you can talk to your children about what to do if they see something they shouldn’t.  Come up with a plan for what they should say if they are at a friend’s house and the friend wants to watch something they don’t want to (I, Laura had this conversation too late with my oldest and the consequence was nightmares for several days after watching a scary YouTube video at a friend’s house.)  We tell our kids that they can make my husband and I the “bad guys” all the time and say, “My mom doesn’t want me to watch this/play this game.”    
  • I (Laura) have started really monitoring my attitude with regard to my own screen time.  This past winter’s illness really opened my eyes to how my own irritability is strongly correlated to the use of my phone.  This is probably different for everyone, of course, but I am making a better effort to pick my phone up less. Because I realize when I’m not looking at it something on my phone, I’m more likely to be more patient and focused on my boys than when I am “ just checking” something.

 

*Note* Moms: we’re not here to bring the guilt. We know raising children entails at least 100 separate skills and we’re all in different places in the journey. I (Virginia) am more focused on teaching my son tools for physical self control right now. That doesn’t mean I ignore screen time until it becomes a major issue; it just means that I am more focused on guiding him to do push-ups when he’s stressed than counting every minute of TV. You’re NOT a bad mom if you feel like your child has too much screen time. Just try implementing one guideline when you’re ready. The fact that you’re concerned is a great sign of being a great mom! 💖 

*Another Note* We also what to say that it can be very tricky when you want there to be stricter boundaries, but there are external factors at play (spouse who is not on the same page with screen time limits, grandparents or other sitters who watch children during the day and are just trying to make it through a rainy day… or 12 rainy days in a row, or a host of other factors that come into play).  In these cases, well in all cases, actually, please have grace for yourself (and extend grace to others). We are all in this motherhood journey together. And each family will have different guidelines that work for them, and different seasons of life that dictate how much effort can be placed on setting limits. But if you are thinking about limits, you are not alone and we support you in any efforts you’re making!

Treasured Products we love: 

  • I (Virginia) give my son a Kitchen Timer so he can take ownership and know how much time he has left. I’ve also given him bonus minutes on his Wii if he turns it off immediately when the timer goes off without complaining. 

 

{These suggestions are ideas from novice moms. Sometimes our life situations need more. 

In that case, seeking out professional help is the right call.}

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