There is a commonly used sermon illustration that is very powerful. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be true. It’s the story about a frog in a kettle of hot water. If you turn up the heat, the frog won’t notice the gradual change in temperature and will eventually be boiled to death. Although the story is not true…the point it makes about ignoring gradual (and not so gradual) change is powerful.
Because our world is in constant change, as parent I will ask myself, “If I had it to do over, what would I do differently?” I don’t dwell on this a lot because parenting can be somewhat like squeezing a balloon. When I do one thing differently…squeeze a balloon…and something else happens…the balloon expands on the other side. Yes, I might be able to improve one aspect of parenting but as a result, something equally concerning might develop in its place.
Still there is one area I wish I had an opportunity to do over: Being a frog parent in the hot kettle of technology. When I first had kids, cell phones were relatively new. I didn’t even have one. The Internet was relatively new and use was minimal. Before I knew it, these new technologies were having a powerful influence in family’s life. A cell phone became a smart phone. A single TV show became binge watching a whole TV series.
In the September/October 2014 Psychotherapy Network magazine there is a powerful cover article titled, “There & Not There: Growing Up in an Age of Distraction.” The article highlights the rise of a new form of fragmented attachment and the two-dimensional parent.
Author Ron Taffel, Ph.D. writes, “So we see in our offices a generation of late teens and young adults who’ve grown up getting this kind of agitated, fragmented, distracted attention from their parents…But the insidious effect of jagged consciousness on attachment from well-meaning parents is still insufficiently recognized…If love is, as has been suggested, focused interest, how can chronic distraction translate into secure attachment?”
When it comes to smart phones, Internet and TV I would squeeze the balloon and be prepared to deal with the consequences of something else arising to take its place. So, you ask, “What would you do differently?”
• I would keep Family Time—fun and exciting Bible teaching at home.
• Eat meals together.
• Participation in church, school and sports.
• Change is the influence of technology on in-between times.
• Tech timeout for both parents and children. Phones turned off for several hours a day and during the night.
• Television and computer limits accompanied by creative and fun tasks to do together.
• We used Internet security but I would annually review the latest safe guards.
My kids might grow up and abandon these limits. But they would at least have an example and would be making a choice instead of unknowingly continue to cook in the hot water of technology.
Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path.
What is the hardest part of navigating technology for your family?
By Kirk Weaver
Husband to Trudi
Dad to two
1 Corinthians 13 Parenting Team Member
Founder and Executive Director of Family Time Training
Ron Taffel, Ph.D. September/October 2014 Psychotherapy Network Magazine There & Not There: Growing Up in an Age of Distraction