It’s winter break and you’re trying to keep your child entertained without playing on their tablet every waking moment.
It seems like you basically have two options: pack the tablet away or give them free reign over it for 10 days. If you choose Option 1, they are going to be devastated because they love wasting hours away watching endless youtube videos or playing video games. They might even throw the mother of all tantrums, making this a very tough situation. Option 2 is basically like playing Russian Roulette with your tablet and sanity because it could end in you having to buy a new one if they drop or spill something on it during their daily use.
So what’s the solution?
Moderation. Screens, in and of themselves, are not evil. There can be content that is nourishing to the soul and educational for their minds. Even screen time for the sake of good clean entertainment can be a good way to spend some time over break.
The key is to learn how to balance your child’s technology time with real-world activities. The best thing you can do for them over the break is spending quality time together, which means being active both inside and outside of the home.
I have my own desire to get some things done around the house and even on a screen this break. Setting times for the kids to be on their devices while you crank out an organization project, a few end-of-the-year financial statements, or catch up on some online reading is perfectly fine. But it may start by saying, “Hey, I’ll going to pop some lunch in the oven (frozen pizza anyone?). Let’s all use our devices until lunch and then have a screen-free afternoon together.”
After a bit of technology use, you can take a break from your busy adult life and go sledding, make some snowmen or have a snowball fight.
The best thing for everyone is to get out of the house and have some time doing activities together. They may never remember what level they got to on that video game, but they will not soon forget that you played with them.
Wisdom Is Caught, Not Taught
The entire book of Proverbs is a model of a parent imparting wisdom to his child. While there is a teaching element to Proverbs, this crown jewel of biblical advice is written in as relational instruction, sharing the patterns of godly living with the next generation. More than fifty times, the word “son” is used; in addition, many other terms like “my child” (Proverbs 20:11, 22:6, 22:15, 23:13, and 29:15), which can also be translated as “babe,” “boy,” “child,” “damsel,” “lad,” “servant,” or “young man.” If we are going to help our children make wise decisions, we must have enough of a relationship with them to be able to speak to their hearts’ affections as well as their minds.
I want nothing more for my kids than to walk in Christlikeness as they navigate life. If I am going to help them overcome the temptations and pains of this world, I must cultivate the kind of relationship with them that will allow me to share God’s wisdom. If we are a screen time-saturated household, I likely will not be able to share with them all that God has taught me through life experience, or what His Word has to say for the situations each of us face. My greatest legacy will be to teach my children to fear the Lord, but this will only happen if I peel their eyes (and mine!) off the screen.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Hear, My son, your father’s instruction, and do not forsake your mother’s teaching; indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head, and ornaments about your neck.”
— Proverbs 1:7–9
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