Safe-Haven Sunday Follow-Up #4
As a new school year begins, it is a great opportunity to make some changes. The problem is that, just like New Year’s resolutions, it is easy to get started but very difficult to persevere in these resolutions. When I spoke a few months ago about the dangers of pornography, but even more so, the dangers of too much screen time, too much time with our smartphones and tablets—when I spoke of this, I received universal praise, agreement, and support from parents. This was very encouraging! However, as with many things in life, the problem isn’t that we don’t agree, or that we don’t want to makes changes. The problem is that making changes is hard. And that after a while, it is easier to give up.
So first and foremost, I want to encourage you! Making the necessary changes to the use of technology in your house, implementing rules and expectations for your children’s use of smartphones, tablets, and TV’s is hard. They are going to fight back. They are going to accuse you of being the most unfair, unloving, intolerant parents to ever exist. And after a while, yes, it is easier to give up, to let them do whatever they want. But easier doesn’t mean better, and what they want is oftentimes not what they need or what is best for them. Again, recall my homily: smartphones, tablets, too much screen time can be incredibly harmful to your children. That statistics and scientific studies on this are clear! Even if you don’t see it now, it is still harmful.
So as you begin this new school year, here are a few reminders and tips for your children, from pre-schoolers all the way to seniors in high school!
- Personally take your child’s phone/tablet no later than 10:00p.m. Children need sleep! Homework should be completed by then to allow them time to sleep. Sometimes, homework is not done because they are distracted by their phone/tablet.
- Never allow your child to use their phone/tablet in their room alone. As innocent as you think your child is (and as innocent as they may be), a phone/tablet in the bedroom is a temptation they are not equipped to deal with.
- Install parental controls on your children’s devices. This should have been done before you ever gave your child a smartphone. This is non-negotiable.
- Have designated “no technology” spaces and times. For example, no phones after 10:00pm or before 7:00am, no phones at the dinner table, no phones at mass.
- Regularly check your children’s phones. You should have the password to your children’s phones, and they should be willing and ready to hand you their phone at any time to review their activity. If a child is unwilling or angry at the thought of you looking through their phone, this is an immediate warning sign to you.
Again, we all agree with these points. But implementing them and continuing to implement them is the difficult part. Let me again encourage you! Let me beg you: take the health and safety of your children seriously.