Giving kids too much access to technology can encourage them to become “emotional islands” and inhibit their relational growth.
Parents often ask me about the technology available in their child’s room. When you walk into their bedroom they have a computer hooked up to the Internet, a television, video game consoles. Throw in their IPod and cell phone and they don’t need to come out if they don’t want to. Often they choose not to. Should we be concerned?
Your kids may be like most of their friends when it comes to having a technological Disneyland in their bedroom, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. In fact it’s a horrible one. Just because parents have the option to provide all of these amenities for their kids doesn’t mean that they should create a scenario that encourages them to become emotional islands. And that is exactly what these kinds of rooms create.
But that’s just one of the problems. Kids are not born with emotional sophistication or spiritual savvy. They are not innately gifted at birth with the discipline to do the right thing or make the right choices. These character qualities have to be developed. For most people, few of these assets are firmly in place until decades into their life. What kids are born with is a propensity toward laziness, selfishness, and temptation. That’s why God saw fit to create the context of family as a way of developing the character and disciplines these children need to become successful adults. Creating a world that doesn’t force them to connect to their family as well as be accountable to some reasonable standards is like inviting Howard Stern to be their nanny.
Most kids would choose isolation over connecting to their family any day. Especially if in their isolated world they have everything they need for self-entertainment. It accommodates self-centeredness. They don’t have to be accountable for what they access on the Internet or watch on television. Although there are wonderful things on the Internet and on television, there are myriad emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and sexual traps on these machines too. That’s why access to these devices should be in a shared environment where mature eyes and loving hearts are just a few steps away.
Creating a private asylum for your children creates a lot of other problems too. Studies have shown a direct connection between the amount of television a child watches and the level of learning problems they have in school. School is about sitting, focusing, and concentrating in a room full of other people. ADD, ADHD, and their various cousins can be outcomes of unbridled access to one-dimension entertainment. Video games have addictive powers. Instant messaging and chat rooms give people free access to your child’s bedroom that you’d never allow past the front door if they came in person. The sedentary nature of these kinds of environments is also a greenhouse for obesity as well as depression.
The biggest issue of all is that bedrooms like these make it too easy for a boy or girl to disconnect from the one thing they need to enjoy healthy relationships in the future — an interactive and honoring family foundation. Save yourself a lot of heartache and your children a lot of debilitation; provide these technological options in the context of the broader family dynamics. In the process, they’ll develop relational skills and enjoy the built in accountability that ultimately grooms them for greatness.