23 Jun, 2021 What Were We Thinking? Parents’ Good Intentions are Reaping Harmful Consequences
by Angie Camp
What Were We Thinking?
– Parents Good Intentions Are Reaping Harmful Consequences, Pt. 1 –
If I could change one parental decision I’ve made
I would have never given my children their cell phones. In my defense, I never could have dreamed that today’s technology would exist. My oldest child was about to enter ninth grade when he received his first “flip phone.” That was in 1998. Honestly, I never anticipated harmful consequences from that decision. Myspace was the only social media platform in existence and could only be accessed on a laptop or PC. Then, almost overnight, the world of technology exploded. Today’s cellphone places the worldwide web at our fingertips. We don’t even have to type! Just tell Siri what to do.
We were created to have relationships.
Our children learn to give and receive friendship and resolve conflicts by interacting with others. Faceless communication is socially disabling them. Pictures and texts in this digital age have replaced in-person conversation. This hinders their ability to understand what relationships are supposed to look like. Smartphones and social media are teaching our youth what social-psychologists refer to as deindividuated communication.
Hiding behind the screen of a device emboldens them to say mean and hurtful things they would never say to someone face to face. One harmful consequence is Cyber-bullying. It has led to sky-rocketing cases of anxiety, depression, and suicidality among adolescents, leading them into an unparalleled mental health crisis.
Cell phone addiction is real.
A 2015 report from the Pew Research Center found that 73% of teens ages 13-17 have a smartphone or at least access to one. 24% of them say they’re online “almost constantly.”
A 2016 CNN/Common Sense Media poll showed that 50% of teens are addicted to their phones and unable to function without them. This harmful consequence is also disenfranchising our youth from their parents. It has halted conversation and increased isolation. On a side note, adults are just as guilty of contributing to this disconnect.
Our youth are affected physically.
57% of the average teen were more sleep deprived in 2015 than before the advent of the smartphone. This harmful consequence affects their performance as a student. Additionally, excessive time spent on their phones means much less time outdoors. This prevents them from getting much-needed physical exercise.
Our youth are an endangered species.
The most dangerous of harmful consequences is that they are a target for pedophilia. Pedophiles and sex traffickers have taken to social media in seeking out their victims as well as apps. They are created specifically to aid teens in hiding their behavior from parents and give predators an advantage. Additionally, pornography is also a major threat. The average age of porn addiction being 8-10 years old!
As parents, we see how drastic the changes have been. But for the present generation, it’s all they’ve ever known. We must face the reality that our children are being desensitized, victimized, and traumatized. This reality is overwhelming and seems impossible to backtrack.
Parents shouldn’t feel powerless!
Putting boundaries in place and enforcing them is much easier than dealing with the aftermath these harmful consequences bring. Keep that in mind to help you stand firm. Remember, it is an act of love. It is also an act of obedience to Almighty God. Besides that, he has entrusted them to you; therefore, He will empower you to do the hard thing.
TAKING BACK CONTROL
To be successful, parents must model it for them. First, be an example of how to limit the usage of devices and social media. Your expectations of them must first be met by you.
In addition, share statistics and personal stories of the harmful consequences that are possible and why boundaries are so important. Oftentimes, this leads to compliance. Regardless, it must be mandatory, not optional.
Utilize parental controls
in phone settings to block harmful content. Consider using Covenant Eyes to filter pornographic web content. Josh Ochs at SmartSocial.com provides courses and other resources that will help you navigate apps and social media in a very comprehensive, practical way! GABB wireless also provides a cell phone that has no internet, no games, and no social media! What’s even better is it looks like an iPhone and you can get it for $69.99 (normally $99.99) when you use code TINA. And lastly, one of our favorite device monitors that will help with the whole family is called the Circle Device.
The hardest step is getting started.
Unplug and get outside! Be intentional by investing in a kickball or volleyball net so the whole family can participate. For one-on-one time, take a walk or ride bikes. Good doses of oxygen, while decluttering your head, is very freeing. Turn off phones during dinner and engage in meaningful conversation about their day or current events. Play games that require teams. Strategically place family members on the same team whose relationship needs work. It is a great bonding tool!
Furthermore, you can help foster your children’s friendships by inviting them to dinner and participating in family game night.
Finally, set a curfew to turn in all phones and charge them in a designated place, preferably the parents’ bedroom. This way, everyone can get a good night’s sleep.
In all honesty, once you experience the joy that quality time brings and the peace in protecting your children from harmful consequences, you’ll wonder why it took you so long. In addition, you can also expect the resistance to pretty much disappear.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you already are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 CSB
Angie Camp is an author, speaker, and Christian Counselor. Aside from being a Mother and Grandmother “Peaches,” her primary focus is walking with women and girls along their journey from brokenness to healing, reminding them that the goal is not merely to survive, but to soar.
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