It seems as though our society has evolved to the point where parents are absent, and digital babysitters entertain the kids. Gone are the days where kids go outside and play in the mud. No more roughhousing or building blanket forts in the house. Now pre-teen children are being entertained by digital babysitters. You might ask what is wrong with that? My answer is everything.
I was fortunate enough to be born before the age of digital babysitters. The only non-human babysitter I was subject to was a TV. My generation was the last generation to get to be normal kids. Our generation was caught between the status quo and a technology wave. Growing up in the dot-com era, my generation was at the forefront of computer advances. We didn't get our first exposure to computers until high school. No one had cell phones in high school. A few kids had pagers though. Our generation fits between generation X and the millennials.
What makes my generation unique? Quite a lot in fact. We got to see what life was like before computers and technology. On the other end of the spectrum, we got to be the first to pave the way with new computer advances. Growing up in this time gives us a unique perspective on life. I didn't realize how lucky I was to be born when I was. When I became a father, it gave me a different set of lenses to see the world through.
Digital babysitters don't help you, parent; they destroy your children.
When I became a father, I wanted my children to have a great childhood as I had. Riding a bike, sledding in the snow, digging holes in the backyard were all things that I wanted to expose my children to. As a family, we made the vital decision a long time ago to not have digital babysitters in our home.
Have you ever walked down a crowded sidewalk and noticed how many people are looking at their phones? Instead of paying attention to what they are doing, they are lost in a digital universe. Look no further than your Church. How many young people are on their phones texting or checking their Facebook status during the sermon? Digital babysitters have become more than a distraction, they have become a way of life.
Instead of kids rushing out to get their driver's license or the first job at sixteen, they loaf on their parent's couch playing on their phone or video games. Remember Christmas a week ago? How many of you noticed the youth in your family on their phones quite a bit? Were they on their phones during dinner? How about when presents were being opened up? Instead of socializing and having regular human interaction, these kids can only function in front of their digital babysitters.
Are your children digital zombies?
Digital babysitters reduce face to face social interaction. You cannot make the same relationship with someone online that you do face to face. Often these digital relationships become unhealthy and are forever etched into the digital universe. Instead of trying to get the first kiss from a girl, is your son just watching porn instead? Does your daughter get her parental advice from a blog or a YouTube channel? Who is there to watch your kids and supervise what they are doing on their electronic devices?
God gave you your children, now do your job and raise them. It is your job as a parent to show your kids right from wrong. How on earth do you think that it is healthy behavior for your kid to wander around cyberspace? Would you drop your kid off in a rough part of town and tell them you will be back in a few hours? Well, some of you might, but the majority will say no way. If this is the case, then why would you let your children wander around on the internet?
You might think that a computer is harmless. Predators can't hurt your kid online right? Wrong. Why are young children committing suicide? Why are there so many depressed children with anxiety? You cannot possibly tell me that their behavior with their digital babysitter has nothing to do with their behavior in life. If you are not there to raise your kid, then something else will.
What does God want us to do?
Here are a few of my favorite verses about raising your children. Before you let your child be unsupervised by a digital babysitter, consider what you are doing. Don't give your children the tools to destroy themselves. Give them the tools to succeed.
Proverbs 22:6 NASB Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 29:15 ESV The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.
Proverbs 20:11 NASB Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright
1 Timothy 5:8 NASB But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.