Should I restrict my child’s screen time? How much is too much? The ‘experts’ disagree, but there is an answer you can be sure of and the answer is this: It depends!
What does it depend on? Perhaps the following story helps. It’s a story about a family with at least one adult and at least one child.
The adult wanted the child to be a well-adjusted, friendly person who cared about others, so they encouraged them in activities that taught good manners and friendly habits.
They wanted them to be fit and healthy, so they made sure they ate nourishing food and had enough exercise. They even took them to sports practice and stood in the biting wind, cheering, at weekend games.
The adult wanted the child to be interested in the world and to do well at school, so they read to the child in the early years and later helped them with school projects, making sure they were mentally stimulated and challenged.
The adult also wanted the child to have a meaningful spiritual life, a guide for this life and a certain hope for the next, so they involved the child in a family friendly church and encouraged them to read the Bible and pray.
Do you get the idea? Of course there are other factors at play as well, and we don’t pretend it’s easy, but in general we ‘reap what we sow’. The Bible also says ‘train up a child in the way they should go’. That’s the joy (and hard work) of parents and carers. What we do (and don’t do) matters. Children are shaped by the adults closest to them.
So, what media should your child be involved with and how much? It depends on how you want your child to turn out. Answer that first, and then choose TV, movies, computer games that will shape them towards that end. When they are small, you choose. As they grow, share your criteria and help them to discern and avoid those which common sense says will shape them towards something else.
This is an excellent website or download the app where you can find information to help you make smart media choices. It includes reviews and recommended ages for everything from movies to apps and gaming. Also includes a section on things for families to talk about. A great resource to help families navigate the decisions and considerations needed when raising children in a digital age.
Growing up Social Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World, by Gary D Chapman (Author), Arlene Pellicane.
This is a helpful read with strategies and ideas to help children live life with screen time rather than for screen time.
Children Finding Faith by Francis Bridger
Francis presents a very readable book that helps parents and carers understand faith development in children. Following the stories of two children it highlights what’s normal at various ages and stages and suggests activities that build faith.
The Lost Sheep series of books by Australian Andrew McDonough
This series is ideal for parents to read to and discuss with their children. There are even suggested questions and ways of introducing relevant topics in the back of each.