Last week my dear friend Wendy shared with us her family technology policy, and today I am grateful that my friend Julie Etter is willing to share with us how she and her husband are managing technology issues in their family. It is certainly a blessing to have more than one advice on this matter. Technology, Facebook, Skype, Twitter, blogs, all these are issues that concern all of us, and we must have a plan to safeward our families.
Our family has struggled a bit with what to do with technology. We have been encouraged by many to throw it all out, and others have said just embrace it, we live in the technology age. While we love the idea of the simple life and living without all of the distraction, the simple truth is, we enjoy technology. Not only do we enjoy it, but we do live in a technology age. There are three main reasons that we have chosen to responsibly embrace technology: 1. Since we live in a technology age, our children need to learn how to use it in a responsible and God-honoring way. 2. We believe technology is not different than any other past time that can be overused. It really boils down to self-control and we desire to train our children (and ourselves) in using self control in what seems to be the latest craze. 3. We aim to not have “extreme” reactions to things that are not biblically mandated.
We live in a time where technology seems necessary. Even our Amish neighbors seem to find this to ring true. We see them with phones in their barns, carrying around cell phones, hiring others to drive them places, etc. I cannot make a trip to the library without seeing an Amish person on the computer. Simply put, our children are going to need to use technology. We desire to be the ones to train them in the proper use of it. We want to set standards and goals before they leave our home to discover them on their own.
I always find it ironic that a parent has completely banned technology because “it is so addicting”. However, their children will spend the whole day shut up in a room, without fellowship, reading a book, drawing, or anything else you can imagine. Now, do not get me wrong, I realize these things are a bit different than wasting brain cells on a video game, but there are still a couple of core issues that stand true: 1. They have shut themselves off from the family. 2. They lack the self control to stop when it is time, and find fellowship with others.
I am blessed to be married to a man who finds danger in the “pendulum swing”. What I mean by this is it is always concerning to see someone swing from one extreme to another. You almost always see alarming results from this action. His favorite teaching on this came from a seminary professor who encouraged his students to “remain at the center of Biblical tension”. Unless scripture is clear, it is best to not jump on extreme bandwagons. In our many years of working with families, we have seen many children rebel after being raised in extremes that are not mandated in scripture. To pretend technology does not exist, would be quite dangerous to a young adult who leaves the home to find it everywhere and they have never learned how to use it responsibly.
Therefore, for the reasons listed above, we embrace technology. However, there is a need for rules. We find that these rules have to be changed from time to time as the children mature and as they deal with different sin issues. After each school break, we find the need to tighten the belt again. Here you will find our latest list of requirements for technology with our children. Please know that these rules fit the needs of our children and are not meant to be taken as law by others. Also, we believe in grace. If you see us making allowances, it may simply mean our children earned some extra grace that week.
- Television is limited to weekends for school aged children. Exceptions will be made if the parents desire to watch a family show/movie with the children and all chores and homework are done.
- Preschool aged children may watch television/movie once per day at the mother’s discretion.
- All electronic equipment stays on the table unless it is being used for school. After schoolwork is done, it may be used, but must come back to the table by 7:00 pm for pre-school aged children and 8:00pm for school aged children.
- You may SKYPE, with permission, with friends that have been approved. SKYPE hours most be within appropriate time range of our time zones, not those whom you are trying to SKYPE. Exceptions to the time of day may be made on Friday nights.
- Email may be checked in the morning and evening.
- Facebook maybe used after all schoolwork and chores are completed. You are allowed 15 minutes.
- There are to be no accounts which the parents do not have access to and the parents have the right to check them. Remember, even in the work place, nothing done on work email or computers is private. This is a lesson you need to learn and for your protection.
- At the parent’s discretion, we will have a “technology ban”. We will “pull the plug” on all technology that is not work or school related for 1 month in order to be sure we are connecting as a family and our priorities are appropriate.
- Each child is required to meet with your mother to develop a list of things to do which are productive and do not involve technology. As with your technology, these activities should not take the place of your time with God and building relationships with those in your family.
Again, I find the need to change these every few months as our families needs a sins change.
Bruce and Julie have a beautiful family, with 5 precious children. They have a love for teaching, (and yes, they both are some of the best teachers at VPSA!) they love spending time with their church community, spend lots of time chasing after the little ones, and driving the older ones around to all of their commitments. Bruce and Julie are very special friends to my husband and I, we love them very much!
And again I ask, What are some of the ideas your own family is using to set technology boundaries? How are you setting limits in your home regarding all things related to technology? How do you set limits for yourself?
Learning with you,