Lately I have seen a series of pictures pop up on my Facebook feed showing children playing outside in the mud alongside pictures of children looking at their phones, seemingly completely unaware of their surroundings. The caption under these pictures proclaims that the person posting these pictures is certainly thankful they grew up in a time of interactive, outdoor play rather than in our current screen absorbed culture.
I am one of those people who grew up before personal screens entered the picture. However, we did have screens. Sometimes the television was referred to as the “boob tube” as even at that time there were many who objected to the use of the television for entertainment. We grew up watching television as a family in the evenings after dinner and enjoyed our screen time as it was a time to be together. We all laughed, cried and cheered through our favorite shows. Steve and I raised our children with television as well, although we definitely limited their time in front of the screen. As computers entered the picture, we monitored time spent on that as well. We had one computer and four children. Obviously computer time was limited!
As our grandchildren are now entering their teen years, I have become aware of their fascination with screens. Access is so much easier now as everyone seems to have their own personal device. It becomes increasingly difficult to engage them in conversation or activity. They can easily become completely absorbed for long periods of time. When they visit our house, one of the first things they ask is if they can play on the iPad. With their high activity level and my lower energy level, sometimes it is too easy to allow them to entertain themselves, yet I miss the opportunity to hear what is happening in their lives.
I can certainly advocate for less personal screen time even as I realize how I enjoy being able to do my own thing on my screens. I love my iPad and iPhone. It amazes me how easy it is to spend many hours a day on those devices! It concerns me that I am sometimes choosing to spend time on my screen rather than with the people I love and want to grow in relationship with. I find it challenging to limit myself, so I can imagine how difficult it is for those who have had these devices their entire lives.
Recently, a book came across my desk at WGA that caught my attention. The title, Screens and Teens, was intriguing. Reading this book has certainly opened my eyes to the dangers of too much information being so readily available for this generation of teens. However, I have been pleased in reading that the author, Kathy Koch, has also taken time to illustrate the potential that this connection provides as well. This book offers some very wise advice to parents as they attempt to guide their children in using technology wisely. She addresses topics involving technology and our deepest needs, the current teen culture, and specific lies that come to our teens through the technology in their lives. Her advice is encouraging and practical.
It is a fact that “technology and the Internet are part of home life, with all the good and bad that brings. The voices, noises, screens, and distractions of our culture can sometimes feel like a tsunami threatening the security of our homes and children.”(Screens and Teens, pg 223) As we consider how we should function with this in mind, the advice given in this book provides a solid foundation to build upon in constructing a plan for your family. It is a resource I would recommend to anyone who is navigating these issues.
Family & Friends Coordinator
In 2005, Jill and her husband Steve began attending WGA’s support group when one of their adult children disclosed their same-sex relationship. They began participating in the Friends and Family group and over time joined the leadership team. Steve and Jill have been married for 38 years; have 4 adult children, and 8 grandchildren.
Jill joined the leadership team in 2007 and started serving as a volunteer staff for the Friends and Family group in 2010. In 2010, she started organizing the semi-annual gathering of Friends and Family activities and other activities such as the 25-year WGA anniversary celebration.
Jill has a BS in Home Economics Education from CSU. She was a licensed teacher for many years. Jill enjoys planning and organizing events, meeting with individuals, and providing hospitality. In 2013, she joined the staff to coordinate the Friends and Family ministry. She is active in leading small groups, discipleship counseling and coordinating the monthly newcomer breakfast.
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