Sometimes we worry that theology will not help us with our practical problems.But for parents, few things are more practical than, “How can rescue my kids away from the flickering screen?!” Does our theology help us at all? Read the following quote, and theological thoughts, on how to help our children with screen time.
Faith Hacking: Managing Your Kids’ Screen Time
One of the big challenges for every family today is placing limits on their children’s screen time. After all, if you leave the kids on their own, they will watch TV or play iPad games from the moment they wake up to the moment you force them into bed (or my kids will at any rate). How do you motivate your kids to pick up a book or go outside? How do you govern screen time without it collapsing into constant bickering?
I found an interesting solution in Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism. This is not a Christian book, but the solution is sound and could prove very useful. He, too, is a parent and he, too, has tried to limit his kids’ access to their devices and to increase their reading.
To do this, he and his wife devised a token system. They created various ways of earning tokens, and allow those tokens to be redeemed for money or for screen time. The kids have various ways to earn those tokens and two ways to spend them.
The children were given ten tokens at the beginning of the week. These could each be traded in for either thirty minutes of screen time or fifty cents at the end of the week, adding up to $5 or five hours of screen time a week. If a child read a book for thirty minutes, he or she would earn an additional token, which could also be traded in for screen time or for money. The results were incredible: overnight, screen time went down 90 percent, reading went up by the same amount, and the overall effort we had to put into policing the system went way, way down.
It is an interesting system. Of course you could adapt the dollars and the hours to fit your family, and you could extend the system so chores could earn tokens as well. My guess is that McKeown’s children are quite young, and you may need to do some work to extend the system to kids in their teens. But overall, I quite like it, especially because it allows the children to make decisions that teach them to read, to earn, and to spend wisely.
Read the whole post at “Faith Hacking: Managing Your Kids’ Screen Time” Challies.com→
What does this teach us theologically? It matters what our children stare at. The writer of Hebrews told us to “fix your eyes on Jesus” (12:2), and while this doesn’t mean we cannot occasionally watch television or movies, we become what we look at, and our children need to be trained to look more to Jesus than cartoons. And further, we learn that even non-Christians like McKeown are blessed with common grace wisdom, and that believers can learn from them.
Put your theology into practice, and practice your theology!