Dads often ask, “How can I keep my kids off their phones?” The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry verifies that kids spend a lot of time watching screens, including phones, tablets, gaming consoles, TVs and computers. Kids ages 8–12 spend 4-6 hours per day watching or using screens, and teens spend up to 9 hours per day. Excessive screen time has been linked to psychological problems - higher rates of depression and anxiety, and health issues - poor sleep and higher rates of obesity.
The answer is, “Be Dad! Be the influence over the kids’ screen time.” But adults seem to be leading by example. Studies conducted in 2021 put estimates of screen time at over 30 hours per week, up 60-80% from the before Covid numbers. Beyond the screen time, there is the constant interruption of thought, discussion, normal one-on-one interaction and work. One is influenced by what one is tuned-in to.
Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. – Ephesians 5:15-18. … making the most of every opportunity… Opportunities pass by quickly between birth and age 18! Dads and moms are the primary influence on the next generation. The charge is to not get drunk on the distractions in this world but to lead spiritually by example in the Lord’s will under the influence of the Holy Spirit. ”You are from below: I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. … You belong to your father, the devil, and you carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” – John 8:23&44. … I am not of this world … Jesus provided the perfect example of living in this world while not being of this world. The 24/7 connection to the world that technology provides can draw man into the constant mantra around the latest disaster, tragedy or political unrest. And with competition to be relevant, news has moved from objective facts to subjective hyperbole and speculation. How is one not to get caught up under the influence of this world? Jesus’ example was spending a lot of time with His Dad. Tuning-in to prayer and scripture, and to relationships in marriage and family, and letting the kids tune-in to you to a new level.
Tips for dads to Be the Influence: (screen time limits per OSF Health Care)
- Set non-educational screen time for ages 2-5 to less than 1-hour per day;
- Set non-educational screen time for ages 7-17 to less than 2-hours per day;
- Establish and enforce start and stop times for screen use;
- Do not provide cell phones with data plans until high school, age 16 or so;
- Lead by example – Put cell phones in an out-of-sight area during dinner/family time.
Prayer guide: Lord, thank You for Your Word and for being the influence You are in my life. I confess that I have been under the influence of the world, oblivious to the impact that 24/7 information flowing from my cell phone has had on me and my family. Forgive me. Help me stand against the influence of various media on my life. I commit to step up and be the influence You expect me to be in family. That is the dad You call me to be, and that is the dad my kids need to see. Amen.
A faithful father steps up to be the influence he is called to be in family.