Written by Matt Eggert, Director of Technology
It’s that time of year again: Spring Break! This is a special time of year and I am sure that everyone is excited about travel, adventure, fun, or some good old “staycation” plans with the family. We always start planning for the break with the best intentions. However, we have all been there when “life” shows up and we are tired from long days of entertaining, celebrating, or just plain running after the kids. In times like these, we often look to technology and devices to help fill the void. Technology can be wonderful when used wisely, with discretion, and in ways that are age-appropriate. As I began to plan for spring break with my family, I came across the book The Tech Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place by Andy Crouch. The information available in this text serves as a great guide when it comes to technology use, and listed below are the 5 best commitments on using technology when we travel, or stay home, over the break.
1. We want to create more than we consume.
If we are going to use technology while traveling, let’s ensure that it’s being used to “create” awe and wonder instead of scrolling for hours on social media, playing Fortnite or binge watching a show on Netflix. Did you know that using an iPad, your children can line draw in Pages or Keynote? Or there are more robust creation tools available, like ArtRage. Finally, maybe they want to create a song or jingle with GarageBand. Using these tools for creation is a good use of technology and helps kids create “Awe” in their world.
In case you are curious about the effects of binging on content, what does your brain look like while binge-watching? A great blog on cognifit.com explains the effects of binging on content.
“When we are engaged in an activity that we enjoy, our brain produces dopamine– the ‘feel good hormone.’ Dopamine gives the body its internal pleasure reward which only reinforces the continuum of the activity. Essentially, when you were a kid and enjoyed playing on the playground, you realized that you wanted to do it more and more each time. That’s because your brain was happy while you were on the playground with your friends and released big spouts of dopamine into your system. While binge-watching your favorite show, the brain continues to produce dopamine which gives your body a drug-like high. You begin to develop cravings for dopamine which causes you to feel a pseudo-addiction to the show you were binge-watching.” (https://blog.cognifit.com/binge-watching/)
2. We are designed for a rhythm of work and rest. So one hour a day, one day a week, and one week a year turn off your devices and worship, feast, play, and rest together.
Is this your week to challenge your family to “break” from their devices? I challenge you to do this and reap the rewards.
3. We use screens for a purpose, and we use them together, rather than using them aimlessly and alone.
This is similar to #1, but we want to ensure that our children are using devices appropriately, so we as parents need to know what content they are consuming. Do you use an app like Circle to view the content used on the devices? Do you talk to your children about the content they are searching to understand “why” they are searching for it? It is our responsibility as parents to ensure we protect our children from inappropriate content like the hoax, The Momo Challenge. We were very lucky that this particular “challenge” was a hoax, but are you ready as a family if it wasn’t? Kids can still search and see disturbing images. Have you discussed your expectations of searching for content with your family? Let’s sure up our plans before we have to deviate on break.
4. Car and/or Airplane time is conversation time.
This is a hard one for me to break. I’m just being honest here. However, I thought to myself, when is the last time I stretched my comfort zone and just talked to my family on a plane? How nice and convenient is it when kids can just “plug in” and the car is calm and quiet all the way to Destin? But at what cost does this behavior become detrimental to the family core infrastructure? This is definitely something to ponder as parents.
5. We show up in person for the big events of life. We learn how to be human by being fully present at our moments of greatest vulnerability. We hope to die in one another’s arms.
I’m considering Spring Break as a big event in life. It’s a time to recharge the batteries and rekindle and mend any stretched relationships. I pray that all of our families stretch themselves during this unique time and find ways to strengthen their commitments to the Lord and their families by ensuring we are connecting with a lot of face-to-face time. Get the card games going, Pictionary, Charades…etc. Let’s be present for the entire Spring Break.
Remember, as Tech Wise Families we understand that all plans might not work out as expected. We strive to be a “judgment-free zone” as a community and we want to help lift up each family when they are in need. We are all in this together and in Proverbs 15:22 it says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”
I hope this blog encourages everyone to achieve their technology plans next week and I pray we can all have a safe and Tech Wise Family Spring Break!