Appreciated this piece from Tim Challies. Especially liked his list of principles, he has been pondering, towards the end of the article.
As parents in this digital world, it’s like we have planted ourselves and our families on a beach. Though the water is rising, we have convinced ourselves that we can somehow hold back the tide. But inevitably it just keeps creeping higher and higher up the beach until our best plans, like feeble little sandcastles, are swept away. There seems to be a kind of inevitability about it, that before long we’ll all always be staring at our devices. In fact, it seems like our devices have wills of their own, and this is exactly what they want. They want to dominate our lives. They want to be our main thing.
Last November, Tabitha and I were struggling through the Fortnite craze with Wyatt. At the time, I penned a blog post that opened with this:
“I feel caught between being a parent and a gamer. Caught between my son loving Fortnite and me seeing the game for what it is, exploitative. I find myself fighting the urge to erase the game from my house. To pretend that Fortnite does not exist and funnel Wyatt towards games that are not built upon:
The addictive free-to-play foundations of games such as Candy Crush and Clash of Clans. Games that are built to encourage consumers to spend real life money to advance/keep playing. Pay-to-win, children!
Female characters designed to be objectified/sexual eye candy.
A non-stop gameplay loop.
An in-game store that creates an artificial need to buy skins (think: clothing/costumes) and items that will expire within an arbitrary time limit.
I can feel my parents surging within me, screaming, “JUST PULL THE PLUG!” But I’m trying to push through that deep rooted feeling. I’m trying to like Fortnite for my son; I’m trying to parent through it.”
I wrote much more than what I’m sharing above. The Fortnite post was up, on this site, for a couple of hours until I removed it. Not that I disagreed with anything that I had written, but I realized that the game had changed.
There comes a point, in parenting, where you need to work through things on your own. I realized that I was painting myself, as a parent, into a corner. Failing to realize:
That my attitude towards Fornite might change in the future.
That one day Wyatt might discover my blog and read what I have written about him.
That I want to be careful with how I represent my son online.
That some things are best worked out as a family. Privately.
Yes, we struggled as a family through Fortnite. I know many of you did. But me writing that unpublished blog post made me re-think how I blog about myself and my family. Not everything that happens in our homes, with our kids, needs to end up online.
Some of the points, on this list, seem like no duh parenting moments; other points come across as alarmist. But, I did find a few things helpful, like this:
Teach kids that when someone offers to show them anything on a screen, they should ask “What is it?” before looking.
And this regarding streaming services:
Many will tell you to just set up a separate profile for the kids–easy! But that’s not enough. The profiles are not password protected and kids can easily switch profiles. Your best line of defense is to set up parental controls. Some parents find it annoying that they have to enter a password so that they themselves can watch content, but it’s a small price to pay to protect your child from mature content!
I have to admit, I always thought that having separate profiles would be enough. Setting up a PIN, for all accounts, to help govern content watched, seems smart.
Love this. Reminds me that I need to start up Boy’s Club again with Wyatt. Be purposeful.
When I was growing up a man in my church gave me perhaps the greatest gift I have ever received…weekly, uninterrupted, quality time. Mr. Zechman was a busy guy. He had four busy and successful daughters of his own. He was involved in our church and community in all sorts of ways. He had a demanding job and was a public figure in our town. He was the kind of guy who should not have had time for a goofy ninth grade boy like me. And yet he made time.