Last month I read an article about a couple who banned modern technology in an effort to inspire their kids. These parents were discouraged that their kids buried their faces in iPads and had no desire to go outside and play. Frustrated, their dad made a decision: for 1 year, they would live like it was 1986. They signed off of e-mail and social media, packed up the flat screens, cell phones, and computers, and they bought a rotary phone, a wooden TV, a radio, and a Nintendo! While I applaud the effort, there are a few potential pitfalls worth mentioning.
First of all, outside wasn’t all it was cracked up to be in 1986. I was 13 and smack dab in the middle of a Generation X, latch-key world. Most of the time, “playing outside” meant doing stuff we weren’t supposed to be doing! While I agree that outside time is good for kids, unsupervised is unsupervised…in any decade. Just sending kids out into the fresh air isn’t the answer. Spending time with our kids is an important lesson.
Secondly, technology is not the real problem. What about the 1950’s Dad who buried his face in a newspaper while his kids longed for attention? Is today’s electronically detached Dad somehow worse? Kids want attention from their parents. Whether it is a newspaper, a cell phone, or one more round with “glass Joe,” detaching from distractions is an important lesson.
Thirdly, Godly living is best in every decade. The article (Parenting like it’s 1986) was written about a couple who was not married, yet they had two sons together, ages 5 & 2. This couple clearly wants the best for their family. But is shutting off e-mail a better lesson than a lifelong commitment in the eyes of God? Children need parents who submit to God’s laws. Following His way is the best lesson.
Will I be returning to 1986 any time soon? NO WAY! But I will try to do the best I can for my family by seeking God while He can be found (Isaiah 55:6). How are you training up your children (Proverbs 22:6)?