Do you remember what it was like when you didn’t have a mini-supercomputer in your pocket all day long? Me neither.
And our kids will never remember a time when they didn’t have instant access to a world of information and entertainment. It’s weird. And it creates a unique set of challenges for parents.
In fact, it is so challenging that much is being written as research is beginning to show just exactly how are phones are affecting us… all of us… kids and parents alike.
It affects every aspect of our lives. Smart phones, and glowing screens of all kinds, have changed our relationships. And it would be foolish to say that it is all for the worse. We know that technology is not inherently good or evil. It requires discernment by each individual to use this powerful tool in a way that is responsible, wise, and particularly as a parent, an example to our children.
There are plenty of ways to model responsible technology usage. If you’ve started to educate yourself (if you haven’t, here’s a place to start), there are some basic lessons we’ve already learned: don’t go to bed with your devices; take breaks from your devices daily, weekly, etc; put phones out of sight during dinner time.
But what will we do when we put them away? Your screen-free time can be the best part of your week when you add intentional, fun Bible teaching in your home. Some people call it home discipleship or spiritual formation. I simply call it “Family Time.”
You may have family time when you watch a movie on a Friday night, or go to the high school football game, or get out Monopoly on a rainy day. These are all great ways to make memories and share special time together as a family. But when you add the element of “training up a child in the way he should go” (Prov. 22:6) because of God’s command to pass the faith to the next generation (see Deut. 6:6-7, Eph, 6:4), you are creating a powerful opportunity for transformation that has eternal purpose and significance!
Here’s the challenge: create an intentional time once a week for Family Time. Screen free. Bibles out. Looking at each other. Talking and laughing together. Put it in your calendar at the same day and time for one month. If you and your kids are not hooked after a month, email me.
Think of this like creating a new habit. Habits take time and planning. Here are a few ideas to give structure to your new, weekly Family Time:
- Enjoy a “no fuss” dinner: make Family Time a night when the meal prep and clean-up is minimal. This helps alleviate the most common hurdle to getting started, “I don’t have enough time!”
- Start the fun with a family theme song: this is a song of your choosing. It may be a popular praise and worship song you hear on the radio… whatever you choose, let it be the indicator to everyone that Family Time is beginning!
- Pray: you’ll want to pray to start and end your time together. Give everyone a chance to pray, if they want. Remember, prayer is just talking to God. Family Time is a great time to help kids learn to pray.
- If you find this list helpful, you’ll want to read our entire Family Time Format as a tool for getting started.
There are many different ways to talk to your kids about God and His Word. Family Time is unique in that you’re using memorable activities and object lessons to drive home an important Biblical Truth, Christian principle, value or belief. The Family Time activity is designed to be done in about 20 minutes, but can be adapted for a longer or shorter time span. So for example, if you decide you want an hour of screen-free time, figure about 20 minutes for dinner, 20 minutes for Family Time, and another 20 minutes for singing praise songs or hymns together. For older kids, you could use your post-Family Time for extended discussion or prayer. And for younger kids, keep the phones tucked away while you do your usual bedtime routine.
Want to sample a free Family Time activity? Start a free trial at Disciplr to see how much fun Family Time can be!
Just writing about screen-free time makes my heart lighter. We carry around heavy burdens and stresses… literally. We carry emails and world news and angry text messages and unpleasant doctor’s appointments on our phones. Laying that down at the feet of Jesus once a day, and certainly once a week, should be an absolute delight. But, the habit of our glowing screens can be hard to break too.
Remember that taking this screen-free time is not just for you and your health. You are modeling a healthy lifestyle for your children as well. And I truly believe that by replacing screen time with Family Time honors the Lord and grows a bond in your family that is so much more valuable than one more game of Clash of Clans or browsing more home decorating ideas on Pinterest.
Have you implemented screen-free time in your home? What has been the best part?
Six Ways Your Phone is Changing You: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/six-ways-your-phone-is-changing-you
Barna: How Technology is Influencing Families
Get instant access to Family Time Training as well as over 20 curriculum lines through Disciplr! This is a gamechanger for your church. And you can get 30 days free access with no credit card required. Start a free trial at Disciplr to see how much fun Family Time can be!