Binders, gym shoes and lined paper are common school items, but in the past year, for many, those essentials were replaced with iPads, laptops, Zoom and Google Classroom. Technology is a fabulous part of education but was never intended to be the hallmark of instruction. Then along came a pandemic, and that philosophy took a giant shift. Without technology, education simply wouldn’t have happened the past many months. As a teacher, I thank God for the brilliant minds who developed it all and found creative ways to help us connect with students. But with all blessings come shadows.
We have depended on devices for remote school and work for more than a year, but now it’s summer and time to help our kids step out of the shadow of too much technology. I’d like to offer a few tips and tricks to help you unplug, unwind and reset your kids this summer.
Show instead of tell: As parents, we have to set the example. Even though we may still be working remotely, which requires screen time, we have to show our kids how to cut back and step away … together.
Get in the zone: Establish clear times and places where devices are strictly off-limits for everyone. The bedroom and the dinner table are the first suggestions. Make sure to include everyone in the conversation. They need to hear that we value technology, but too much is not a good thing.
Make the switch: If you take something away, you need to add something new. Too much screen time decreases creativity and communication, so, as a counterbalance, replace screen time with swimming, biking and exploring the neighborhood. Build creativity with a trip to the library to read real books, or play board games in the back yard. Go on a picnic, and remember, the value is in the event rather than the food, so no need to get fancy. Grab the old digital or disposable camera, come up with some fun categories and have a family photo contest.
Non-digital discipleship: Serve … someone, anyone, just put down the devices and go do something for another one of God’s children. Cook, mow, rake, bake cookies or just stop by for a game of cards and a visit.
Projects: Life isn’t always fun and games, so get your family team together and do some projects. Organizing, cleaning, sorting, building, planting or tending build responsibility, teamwork and work ethic.
Use the phrase: Sometimes we forget it’s OK to simply say, “Because I said so!” Our job requires us to do things that kids don’t like because we know it’s good for them; so don’t be afraid to use the phrase, and even remove the devices completely for a time so new habits can be established.
Reconnection: To whom do we truly want our kids connected? The answer is family, and Jesus, so putting away the devices so our kids can connect with those who love them most and are the most important is essential.