Are you noticing your children spend more time online since COVID-19 and summer is upon us? A recent Wall Street Journal opinion (behind paywall), “Save Your Kids From Covid’s Digital Deluge,” addresses the topic of screen time. “Now is the time to break the trance of digital distraction” your children may be facing, encourages the writer Arlene Pellicane.
We frequently hear this reasonable, benign suggestion. Our children spend inordinate amounts of time in front of a screen for many reasons. We have many motivations for allowing it:
We want our children to feel good, and that’s why we often go easy on them. But maybe they’ll feel better if we require them to do good—help cook dinner, sweep the kitchen floor, read books, run outside, write a letter to grandma. – Arlene Pellicane
Ms. Pellicane’s point is sound. As our children engage in productive activities, they become productive people. Childhood and young adulthood are all about becoming. But primarily about learning how they fit into God’s kingdom.
Boiling spaghetti noodles for dinner or baking boxed brownies for dad’s birthday is a service to the family. Sweeping a kitchen floor may be about learning to respect authority. Reading books may encourage virtues, reveal ways to overcome struggles, and elicit flights of imagination. Running outdoors offers increased stamina and powers of observation, not to mention improved eyesight (through distance vision). Writing a letter to grandma shows respect to elders.
Let’s not forget why these activities are fundamentally valuable. It’s not: “When children take responsibility their self-esteem improves.” (Pellicane) It is because they are spiritually valuable as well.
Self-esteem has its uses, but it ranks beneath developing one’s commitment to God. When children serve, learn and respect, they are gaining a foundation for a life lived in service to God. Their actions are beneficial and constructive for the kingdom. They take responsibility in order to serve their Creator–and in the end may also notice peripheral benefit to themselves.
Learning practical skills like courtesy, mentioned by Pellicane, is time well spent during COVID-19 and summer. But again: Imagine if your children also learned the deeper spiritual lesson of the practical skill. What is more practical than knowing for Whom one is ultimately living? What is more valuable than learning to keep one’s eyes on God’s glory and grace as they learn, strive, step forward, miss the mark and strive again?
Sure, teach kids practical skills during lockdowns and summer break. But don’t forget to share the deeper reason they will want to do all those worthwhile things: to serve the Lord. To do it all for the Glory of God.
That just makes common sense if you’re a Bible-believing family, while making your children pleasantly uncommon.