Influence

 the shape of leadership

Plugged-In Families Feeling Frazzled

Parents say technology is making it harder to raise kids.

Parents today believe their roles are getting tougher, and they point to technology as the biggest reason, a survey from Barna Group reveals.

Barna polled U.S. parents of children ages 4 to 17, and 78 percent of respondents said raising kids today is more complicated than it was for their parents. When asked what makes parenting harder, 65 percent cited technology. Other reasons included increased dangers in the world (52 percent); moral decline (40 percent); finances (26 percent); bullying at school (20 percent); high academic pressure (16 percent); and rising work demands (15 percent).

In probing the extent to which technology pervades family life, Barna found that the intrusion starts early in the day and carries over to bedtime. In fact, 70 percent of parents sleep with their phones near their beds; 72 percent of preteens and 82 percent of teens do the same.

More than 60 percent of parents reach for their phones first thing in the morning, with 74 percent checking email, 48 percent looking for social media updates, and 36 percent scanning news headlines. Just 17 percent are grabbing their phones to use a Bible or devotional app.

Meanwhile, kids average five hours daily on electronic devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and computers. Four in 10 play video games after school, and 3 in 10 send texts or log on to social media.

Kids average five hours daily on electronic devices.

The digital age even affects the way some families eat. While 32 percent of parents forbid electronics at the table, another quarter strongly agree that devices significantly interrupt family meal times.

Heath Adamson, national youth director for the Assemblies of God, says these findings highlight the need for churches to disciple families and provide resources that will help them navigate a rapidly changing world.

“A subtlety Barna’s research reveals is the prevailing issue not only of rampant use, but rampant unawareness,” Adamson says. “Ministry leaders can host parenting workshops, teach on boundaries and how to take time off from technology, and connect parents with one another to share ideas and strategies.

“The days of providing a safe forum for parents to sharpen one another and learn from one another are upon us. This is an inherent value in our faith communities.”

The information appears in a newly released book by Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place, created in partnership with Barna Group.

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