Home Children's Ministry Leaders The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Screen Time for Kids

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Screen Time for Kids

The Bad

All of the good certainly could also be used for bad. Screens are not sinful in and of themselves. What we do with them can be. Job 4:8 says, “According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it.”

Although there are many positive aspects of screen time that parents can encourage children to enjoy, there is certainly a negative side to screen time. We can “sow iniquity” that will reap a lifetime of “trouble harvest” if we are not careful with our devices.

Some of the negative effects of screen time include:

  • Impact on sleep, attention, and mood: According to the U.S. Library of Medicine, too much screen time can lead to unhealthy sleep patterns, attention and focus issues, mood disturbances, and increases the risk for obesity.
  • Change in brain development: The brain is still developing until the age of twenty-one and research has shown that screen time can significantly slow or change a child’s brain.
  • Less time engaged in healthier habits: Childhood is a time for exploring and interacting with the world. Screen time can steal the time for skill-building by limiting a child’s engagement in playing outside, reading, riding a bike, building a fort or playing at the park.

While not all of the content accessible to children is negative, much of it is simply a waste of precious time for them to enjoy the days of being a child. Curating your child’s engagement and investment in screen time can help lead them in the way of Christ as their minds are exposed to content that will help and not hinder their faith journey.

The Ugly

The Internet, for all its good, does certainly brim with mature content that offers nothing positive to children or adults. Moreover, it’s amazingly easy for even our youngest kids to access it. Some of the ugly impacts of too much screen time include:

  • Exposure to harmful content: Studies suggest the age of children’s first exposure to pornography is eight years old since the increased access to platforms like YouTube. Having unlimited, unmonitored connection with devices can be an open door for content that is harmful and damaging for your child.
  • Cyberbullying: With more opportunities to bully and harass one another, kids in this generation are facing the painful challenge of bullying extending well past the schoolyard and into their homes through their devices.
  • Online predators: With the anonymity that screens can offer, it is impossible to know who is on the other side of a device. Too much access and unlimited use can leave our children vulnerable.

It only gets easier for kids to access questionable content online as they get older because they often understand how to navigate devices better than their parents. As parents, we can’t afford to simply shrug our shoulders and give up so easily. To not fight for your child’s innocence is to abdicate your God-given responsibility as a parent. You simply cannot be passive about your children’s screen time. You must take an active role in protecting your kids from bad actors or content that’s simply too mature for young eyes. This isn’t just your kid’s mind at stake — it’s their future marriage (if they do get married), their perspective on love and relationships, and most importantly, what they believe is permissible and not sinful in the eyes of our Creator God.

I Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled. Bad company corrupts good character.” When we think that the screen isn’t affecting our kids, we must think again.

There are undoubtedly good, bad, and ugly aspects of screen time. However, being a fully engaged, Gospel-centered parent who actively disciples your child is the best way to help them grow in their faith and future as a follower of Jesus. Screens are rarely the problem. How we engage with and what we allow ourselves to engage with on our screens is often the greatest battleground for your child’s heart and faith. Stay strong, stay present.

This article about the good, bad, and ugly about screen time originally appeared here, and is used by permission.