Children need our Christian guidance



Editor’s note: This is the first of a four-part series. Dr. Jim Schroeder, Ph. D., also contributed to this column.

“What father, if his son ask for a fish, will hand him a serpent instead?” (Luke 11:11).

After laboriously typing a 10-page college term paper for two hours (typing was my only D in high school), I discovered an important section on page three was missing. I was distraught. Recognizing my dismay, my 80-words-a-minute roommate traded me a week of laundry duty to redo it in less than an hour.

Fast forward 20 years. Our family was touring the San Diego Zoo when I realized that Jim and half of our children were not present. Since there was little we could do, we continued our visit and found them an hour later at the exit. In both cases, technology would have alleviated an otherwise-stressful situation. It certainly has its advantages.

However, the above Bible quote makes me think of iPhones, iPads, computers and even television in the hands of our impressionable youth. Have we, as guardians of our children, carefully studied what we are making accessible to them?  The findings and statistics about the many unhealthy effects of technology are alarming. Understanding the repercussions may cause us to reconsider our choices when our minors plead for the latest device, or an evening of primetime television or internet surfing.

In a series of four “Lessons Learned” columns based on extensive research accumulated by my son, Dr. Jim Schroeder, Ph.D. (, he and I will present many reasons for limiting and possibly delaying accessibility of technology to our impressionable youth.

A wide body of research has found that children are experiencing many detrimental effects as a result of technology. These include, but are not limited to, loss of adequate sleep, cyberbullying, decreased learning, sexting, inability to focus, an increase in viewing pornography, a decline in basic social skills, obesity, an increase in sedentary behavior, and a decrease in developmental skills like impulse control and emotional regulation.

While this list appears daunting, it does not infer that every child will suffer these results. However, without adequate understanding of the dangers as well as firm parental limits and monitoring of all technology, the risks definitely increase.

Many parents actually bemoan their children’s overuse of technology. Cell phones are the No.1 culprits, with iPads and computers close behind. We admit that our children or grandchildren often forego homework, chores or much-needed sleep to play one more game or text friends at 2 a.m. However, when asked why they cave-in to the electronics craze, a common parental theme emerges. “Well, all the students in his class have one;” or “I want her to fit in.”

What happened to the generation of parents who said, “Just because Jenny is jumping off the bridge, are you going to?” After which they firmly said no. Upon hearing this current rationale, one has to wonder when this role reversal took place. For a myriad of secular reasons, many parents have abdicated their responsibilities as heads of the family. Unfortunately, the results have been disastrous on social, educational, emotional and familial levels.

It’s time for a revolution. We need to be the courageous Christians we pledged to be at our child’s baptism. Our decisions should focus on the salvation of their souls – not the fleeting popularity of the world. Educating ourselves to the dangers of technology gifts should be a prerequisite before we present these possible serpents to our children.

Let us pray for God’s grace and guidance to prioritize our children’s health and holiness above their immediate gratification, and the societal pressures of a consumer-driven world.