Guiding Principles Regarding Screen Time

We talk a lot about “screen time” and what it looks like to bring glory to God with the way we use our devices.  For more in depth reading on this topic I recommend The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in its Proper Place by Andy Crouch.

While it is crucial that we parents monitor and protect our children’s screens from improper use, we cannot monitor their friends’ screens as well, and we won’t do any of it perfectly!  Ultimately, these conversations with our children have to be about their own hearts, their own willingness to bring these issues under the lordship of Christ, and their own obedience to God’s Word.

The following are some thoughts we discussed in our November LCS Morning Minute. This is all the stuff to decide, talk about, and prepare for BEFORE handing the child a screen;

  • Dinner table and car rides (except for long trips) are screen free zones
  • Screens are used in a common area and not my bedroom
  • Elementary students – do not use screens together with peers unless a parent is monitoring (i.e., football games, neighborhood, slumber parties, play dates, etc.)
  • Follow technology rules wherever I am: school – put it away, church – it is used only for scriptures in a pinch (an actual physical Bible is preferred), movies – silence it and stay off it, driving – turn it off!  
  • Screens are docked at night in the central charging location 
  • Screens go to bed before we do and wake up after we do
  • A fireplace is the original glowing rectangle, and centered the family together in the home where they gathered to tell stories, sing, share, and work with one another.  It would be very sad for these family times to be replaced by a different kind of glowing rectangle.  Screens should be used together for a purpose, not aimlessly and alone.
  • Having a cell phone (or any device) is a privilege that also comes with responsibility; it can be taken away if not being used in a responsible and wise way, or if the child is not fulfilling responsibilities, being kind and respectful to parents and siblings, and/or demonstrating trustworthiness.
  • Privacy is not a right for a child/adolescent.  Parents can and (sometimes) will read my emails, texts, and whatever else is on the screen.  This is because my parents are being loving, not nosey.
  • For anyone under 18, the Apple ID should be Child ID – (Family Sharing with the Parent as the Organizer – add member (child ID) under Organizer)
    • Do not give your child their Apple ID Password (or if you give it to them, require that they request permission for each app that they install)
    • Use “Screen Time” in Settings (from there use Downtime, control contacts, Content and Privacy restrictions, do not allow them to clear their history, do not allow apps you can’t monitor, and more!)
    • MONITOR the screen time – and pick up the phone/iPad, etc. and look through it!  Channel your inner detective

How to Use Parental Controls on your child’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod (there are very similar Android protocols as well!)

Parenting Screens is HEART WORK!

Three enemies our children have: Satan, the world and the “old man” – and we need to help them guard against all 3 when it comes to screen usage.  Just like we do, our children battle temptations and sin patterns and easily drift in these directions without careful examination of their own hearts.

We are responsible to shepherd their hearts toward love for the Lord.  We can control our own home’s routers and screens, but we cannot control other people’s routers and screens.  If we don’t have their ear/heart it will be like trying to bridle a bucking bronco. 

No monitoring software or parental control replaces ongoing CONVERSATIONS with your children about your expectations and God’s call on their lives (range of topics includes sexting, pornography, bullying, conflict resolution, time management, Phil 4:8 as it relates to music and videos, Deut 6:7-9, cheating, etc.)

Give them increased freedom as they increase in maturity and trustworthiness and parent their hearts through their successes and failures – we don’t want them to leave the house without having had lots of input from you on screen use!!!

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Digital News – November 1, 2021
Facebook is changing its corporate name to META (10/28). It will still have Facebook as the social network, but it is clearly dissociating itself from the negative image.

Snapchat is creating a Family Center (10/20). After 10 years, we shall see if Snap finally gives parents the control they deserve. I’m not shy telling parents that I think Snapchat is horrible for teens.

Google now allows minors to request that their non-sexual photos be removed from search results (here’s the form). Child sexual content should follow this process instead.

TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube Execs testified in the Senate on October 26. Highlights include:Snapchat and YouTube not understanding the App Store ratings process.Snapchat claiming its content is vetted and appropriate for 13-year-olds (even though it’s not).YouTube and TikTok support increasing the digital age of adulthood from where it is now at age 13. Only Snapchat was non-committal. TikTok would not directly answer what they are planning to do with the biometric data that they collect.

– According to a Today Show report (10/20), highly sexualized content continues to plague mega-popular Roblox. “Condo” and “Scented Rooms” are in corners of the millions of Roblox games where avatars can remove clothing and more. Follow our PYE Roblox parental control guide for help.

Google Photos will now have a secret, locked folder for both iOS and Android devices (10/29). Unlock via biometric (print) or pin. It cannot be turned off.

Around 142 million homes, globally, have watched Squid Game (post with more information). Have you wondered why more kids are playing red light green light? 

– **Instagram now allows you to post images and videos from a desktop browser (10/24). This means that a smartphone and app are no longer needed to use most of Instagram’s features (adding to teen distraction). 

– Based on TikTok’s 2021 Q2 transparency report (most recent), over 1,000 new videos are posted to the app every second (over 8B a quarter).