Earlier this week, I sat in the airport waiting for my flight connection. Looking around, I saw many young children on devices. Some of these children were too young to write their names, but the cute characters on the screens held their attention. These devices were protected by bright childproof cases, with handles for easy carrying. The children were happy and occupied, no whining, no running around. What more could a parent want? These devices disguised to keep children entertained are doing much more harm to children and their wellbeing than parents are told.
What Parent Aren’t Told
While playing video games and watching cartoons on these devices may seem like the answer to prayers for the 21st century parents, they are perhaps the most dangerous item in most homes today. Each time children are on these devices, they have entered the virtual world and left the real world. In the virtual world, life is better, more fun, and full of excitement. In the real world, there are problems, disappointments, understanding we are not always in charge. Retreating to the virtual world is much easier than living in the real world behind. Making compromises, taking turns, losing, learning to accept we are often wrong and that we need to learn from others are life lessons that are not taught in the virtual world.
As children go online more frequently, they spend less and less time with the family. They spend more time listening to the advice of strangers and ignoring the wisdom of parents. Children need the guidance of parents. Parenting is hard work, it is not an easy job.
Ultimately, children will encounter immoral acts, may even be pressured to participate in these, and become the target of a predator. While most parents are unwilling to admit this will happen in their own family, it is time to accept the reality. Many parents reveal that by the time children have reached their tweens they are texting, on social media, and video gaming at all hours day and night. Tweens are growing more and more agitated when away from their devices. They grow addicted to the virtual world and withdrawn from the real world.
The lack of empathy is another growing concern in the world. Compassion for others is overridden by the desire to please ourselves. Children become exposed to violence, sexual acts, and displays of illegal activity. Glamorizing the world of rebellion, a world where anything goes, where the device is more convenient and more valuable than parental interaction is taking its toll on families and society.
Children need Parents
The time parents spend with children is a treasure that cannot be measured. We are the foundation of the family with God as our center. Children need to know parents are the source to turn to for advice and guidance. We are our children’s best teacher. Devices are not substitutes for real life, real relationships, and real problems. Problems are a part of life, learning to deal with them makes more secure adults. Creating memories will last a lifetime. Do not let those opportunities pass by.
For those children at the airport, did they miss observing other people from different walks of life, did they miss seeing the big jets taking off and landing out the windows, did they miss learning how to sit still and ask parents questions? Each parent needs to choose their own priorities. There is no match for time with our children.