“Put the screens away!” If you were a fly on the wall in my family, you would hear that sentence, again and again. And it only gets worse in the summer. Because of the lack of a school routine, boredom turns to binge-watching.
I feel like a class-A hypocrite writing an article on this topic, but we’re not the only ones struggling to get a handle on it, either. Over and over it comes up in counseling sessions, phone calls, messages, and discrete conversations in the halls of the church. What does it mean to rightly parent a child of the “on-demand” generation?
Do we have to choose between the luddite lifestyle of banning technology altogether, or is there a way to make “screen use” a shepherding opportunity?
The New Neighborhood
Everyone remembers the constant cries of “I’m bored!” It’s as much a part of summer as lemonade, barbeques, and beach trips. In times past, however, there were social systems that worked to help alleviate boredom. They were called your neighbors.
Neighborhoods were alive with children playing pick-up basketball, or riding their bikes, or doing anything they could to fight the specter of boredom together. It wasn’t a perfect system by any means, but it brought kids of various ages and abilities together to battle a common enemy.
These days, it seems impromptu play in neighborhoods has all but disappeared. The result is that a child’s entertainment and play needs — and yes these are needs for a child — fall to the parent rather than being distributed across a neighborhood of resources.