Kids & Screen Time

Eleanor Croker | 31 May 2017

Even when my children were little I allowed them ‘screen time’ (using technology such as an iPad or iPhone, DVD player, TV etc.) mainly to keep them occupied if I wanted to get something done or have a rest or to keep them from fighting (yes--they do that quite a lot).

But how much should they have? Is it safe for children to use the Internet? Should my child have their own screen in their room? These are all questions that I have been asking myself especially as the children are older and they see what their friends are allowed to do or not do.

I just typed in ‘screen time’ to the Google search and the first few things that came up were:

Dramatic rise in screen time putting children’s health at risk, WHO warns - Independent
Prince William talks about screen time and Prince George –
Most Kiwi kids have no screen time limits – National NZ Herald News
We were wrong about limiting children’s screen time – Gizmodo

I personally feel that a little screen time is a good thing. I need it just as much as they do and I think there are many fantastic apps and online resources that children can plug into. We have decided that all screen watching should only take place in a family room and we have set limits on how much screen time the children should have. And this all seems to work well.

What does concern me though is what my children can now access by going online. A few years ago my eldest was looking for something in a search engine, he wanted to find out what a ‘Bobby’ was (the name given to a policeman) but he miss-spelt the word and what came up was totally different! This was quite amusing (especially for my dad who was nearby) but it made me very aware of what could accidentally be seen.

In Matthew 13: 47-48 we read, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind. When the net was full, they dragged it up onto the shore, sat down, and sorted the good fish into crates, but threw away the bad ones.’

In his book ‘Parables for Counselling’ David Goodwin uses this parable of Jesus and comments,

This story is about fishermen who catch fish in their net, but there is another ‘net’ that is having an increasing influence on children, called the Internet, which contains much that is bad. For example, cyberbullying, sexting and violent gaming. Children can also be caught by predators who seek to meet them and do harm. The internet however, also contains much that is good and important to education. In this day and age it is not realistic or helpful to say to children not to go anywhere near the internet, but it is essential to help them know how to be discerning between that which is helpful and that which is destructive.

As a parent it is my job to teach and guide my children and to help them make good choices. I am also helping them to be discerning by teaching them to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit. is not realistic or helpful to say to children not to go anywhere near the internet, but it is essential to help them know how to be discerning.

-David Goodwin

When the children are watching something that I don’t think is very suitable for them (perhaps the programme has witches in it for example) I will often say “Would Jesus like you to watch this?” The answer that comes back is usually ‘No’ and then they turn the programme off.

I hope that in this way they are casting their own net and doing the fishing for themselves. 

You might be thinking that you don’t need to worry about this too much yet as your children are still young or you may have put this in the ‘too hard basket.’ If you have, I encourage you that as a parent you CAN can take little steps to guard your children. You can set up parental controls on the devices they use or simply talk to your children about what they are watching or looking at online and whether they think it is suitable or not.