Many parents feel like there’s not much they can do against the dominion of technology in our culture. Most kids have smartphones and communicate with one another through them. How could parents leave their own children out? Wouldn’t they get behind if they miss out on all the technology other kids are experiencing?
It’s quite the opposite. Kids saturated by technology are missing out. Missing out on everything else. There is much data to show how kids are negatively impacted psychologically and emotionally from social media. There are also moral concerns with the content shared by their peers and the ideology pushed by corporations. What about their natural development and education? With their heads turned only to screens, they are not thinking, engaging others, and experiencing life in normal and healthy ways.
So we need to do something about this!!
Step one: free yourself from the domination of technology. Many parents hesitate to “take phones away” from kids (as if they belong there naturally) because they themselves always have them at hand. I had a smartphone for a few years and then turned to a Lightphone. My own teenagers have them as well, which enables them to call and text but does not give them open access to the internet. We have gone back to a home phone for the younger kids to use to call us when we are gone.
Step two: we should set clear parameters for the use of technology. Kids may have specific tasks to perform for school and other activities online. Make sure you have filters and other protections. We put the computer in a public space in our house with others around to monitor. We only allow access during limited times of the day so that it does not become a dominant force eating up time in our home.
Step three: prioritize personal interactions and good culture. Pulling back from technology these days creates a vacuum. How will you fill it? Reading, playing board games, pick up sports, listening to good music, having conversations, cooking together, watching Catholic movies as a family, the arts, taking walks, hosting other families–these are some of the things we do instead. We are always trying to build a healthier and stronger home culture.
Make sure you do not give our secular culture and the enemy open access to your kids. Make sure you know what they are doing, that you are guiding it, and keeping the use of technology within clear limits. It is one of the most important things we can do right now for our kids.
Dr. Staudt serves as Director of Content for Exodus and as an Instructor for the Lay Division of St. John Vianney Seminary. He is the author of How the Eucharist Can Save Civilization (TAN), Restoring Humanity: Essays on the Evangelization of Culture (Divine Providence Press) and The Beer Option: Brewing a Catholic Culture Yesterday & Today (Angelico Press). He holds a Ph.D. in systematic theology from Ave Maria University and B.A. and M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN). He and wife, Anne, have six children and he is a Benedictine oblate.