“Dad, you are totally awesome! By the way, where’s Mom?”
“In the kitchen, bud.”
“Mom, you look really pretty today. I like what you did with your hair.”
It was nice to hear, even if my kid was totally insincere and he was only saying it because it was in the rules. Before you (correctly) jump to the conclusion that the Guenthers have weird rules, let me explain.
We love our technology in the Guenther household. We realize what a blessing from God it is when we can connect with our relatives in the Lower 48 all the way from Alaska via Skype or FaceTime. Mom and Dad love their iPhones and the way it helps us communicate. The boys love their iPad with the educational games and the fun games. We all love the Wii. But sometimes we need to rein it in a bit.
“No iPhones at the dinner table.” That was a rule the boys came up with. And it’s a good one, even though it’s hard to resist pulling it out of my pocket when I hear that little noise signaling a new text message. It gives us a chance to actually interact as a family, sharing our highs and lows of the day—with no interruptions even from Dad’s phone.
But we have some rules for the boys too. First, they have to limit their time on the iPad. If left unchecked, hours could pass while they clash their clans together or pop the enemy monkeys’ balloons. Siri helps us out. “Siri, set a timer for 30 minutes,” they tell her, and she lets them know when their time is up.
But even before they get to play, there are rules they have to keep. They have to complete all the tasks on the laminated page that sits on the face of the iPad (the seventh task is my favorite).
- Is ALL of my homework done for tomorrow? (memory work too!)
- Is my bed made?
- Are ALL of my chores done?
- Have I played outside today?
- Have I spent time with my brothers today?
- Have I asked mom or dad if they need me to do anything for them?
- Have I told Dad how awesome he is today?
- Have I told Mom how pretty she is today?
- If the answer is yes to all of these questions then you don’t need to ask permission to play the iPad. Just set a timer for 30 minutes and have fun! : )
Okay, so the last two are really just meant to be fun. But we do want our kids to learn to enjoy the blessings of technology without becoming slaves to it. We want them to learn to use God’s gifts responsibly. We want to encourage them to maintain human contact and not get too absorbed in the games. And everything will be okay—the world probably won’t come crashing down—if I ignore my phone for 45 minutes each night around the dinner table too.
Thank God for his gifts of technology! And thank God for his forgiveness in Jesus for all the times that we’ve misused or abused them! And now, as we live lives of thanksgiving to him for these gifts, may he help us to use them responsibly.