As the world grows more complex with each new generation, it’s no surprise that parents today feel parenting is more difficult than ever. Nearly eight of 10 parents in a recent Barna survey felt it’s harder for them to raise children than it was for their parents to raise them.
And when asked why, parents didn’t say it was because the world is more dangerous or more immoral. The main difficulty, they said, was dealing with technology and social media.
“Parents feel out of control, hopelessly overmatched by the deluge of devices,” says Andy Crouch, former editor of Christianity Today and author of The Tech-Wise Family.
Crouch points out that it’s not just that parents are behind the curve when it comes to monitoring their children’s digital use to make sure they’re safe. Many also fail to watch their own tech use to make sure their family is not sacrificed on the altar of business and entertainment. Either we’re taking our technology home with us to keep up with our work demands or we’re trying to decompress from the day with Netflix or other amusements. “If we don’t learn to put technology, in all its forms, in its proper place, we will miss out on many of the best parts of life in a family,” he writes.
The digital deluge was just one of six tech trends that emerged from the Barna study that seem to be changing the American home today. Here’s their list:
“Monitoring technology makes parenting even more difficult.” The landscape is constantly changing, and smart devices and apps have changed the way we interact with each other and our children.
“Life truly happens in the living room.” It’s always been the room where family most often comes together, but the proliferation of technology has changed the way connection happens within families.
“Now I lay me down to sleep … with my smartphone.” Seven in 10 parents keep their phones next to them while they sleep, and a greater number of their kids do. That means there’s little time when technology isn’t demanding our attention.
“Parents might limit kids’ devise usage—but don’t eliminate it.” Television used to demand kids’ free time, but now they’re spending an average of five hours a day in front of other screens. Parents report that nine of 10 teens and nearly half of pre-teens have smartphones.
“Video games and family time dominate after-school hours.” Other than doing homework and engaging with other family members, the majority of kids spend their after-school hours watching TV shows or movies or connecting with friends via their mobile devices.
“Parents say tech disrupts the dinner table.” About a third of parents report that they never allow electronics at the table, but more than four in 10 say that devices are a disruption at family meals.
We’d like to hear from you. We’re putting together additional content to help parents with these issues. Are you being eaten alive by the tech monster in your home? Have you found some ways to balance the blessing and the burdens of technology for your family? Tell us about your experience.
For some practical tips on overcoming some of these trends in your family, read “Helping Your Kids Think Straight About Social Media.”