Is it any surprise that technology has become as much a distraction for children (with their Nintendo Switch, Fire tablet or burner iPhone) as it has for adults? How can children practice hearing the nudges of God—which may sound like help this friend, play outside with your friends, read the Bible to learn what is true—when access to instant entertainment entices and ringtones beckon?
Overlay Distraction with Thinking
There are ways to help your children distance themselves from the siren call. You can encourage and inspire them to engage in thoughtful–thinking–activities.
For example, show them an online article you printed (or, if you’re really edgy, a newspaper article–remember them?), magazine article or Bible verse you noticed and share a memorable point. Let them read any picture caption and tell you what it means to them. After that, ask them in your own way to relate it to their own life. Extend it by suggesting they look up a word in the dictionary (the book variety–you’d be surprised how intriguing they can be to kids these days), which often leads to finding other interesting words. Or find related pictures in a reference book you have. The point is, help your children make connections and extract interesting aspects appropriate for their level. Then allow them to articulate their imaginative ideas or responses. Listen to them and comment affirmingly about some part of their idea. This process will help them create a habit of thinking more deeply about things. For older children, an informal research process like this can intrigue them to learn more online and play less online. You are more likely to create an autodidact this way.
Your Own Parental Distraction
You may also want to notice how much of their thought life you pay attention to. Notice and verbally acknowledge when your child has formed a complex idea requiring attention. Then sincerely praise the most interesting aspect of it. And, of course, encourage others like it. By talking with your children about their thought life, they will be encouraged by your recognition and probably attempt more of it. Goodness knows, the world needs more critical thinking. By engaging them with opportunities to think more deeply, they will be better inured to distractions caused by available technology. Or, at a minimum, they may begin to use their screen time for more productive learning activities.
And finally, a vital reminder: Set down your own technology (or other distractions) while attempting these tactics and prepare to be engaged yourself. Check out https://www.christiantechkids.com/children/talk-not-tablet/