Is Technology Getting in the Way of Your Child's Independence?


I sent my older daughter off to camp this week with our church. It's the first time she's ever done something like this on her own. Outside of spending a week with my parents every summer, she's never spent more than one or two nights away from home.

The tough part is she couldn't take her phone with her. I think it's a great idea that our youth leaders asked these kids to unplug from electronics for the week so they can fully engage with the people they are going to camp with. I talked to my daughter yesterday, and it sounded like they were having a great time. But not having her phone means that I can't check in with her whenever I want to.

As much as my daughter has gotten used to being in constant contact with me and her friends, I've gotten used to constantly being able to keep in touch with her. I love being able to text her no matter where she is just to check in. I love the security of knowing that I can reach her on a moment's notice.

But this week, I have to rely on her best friend's mom, who went as a chaperone, to send me an update on how things are going. I'll have to wait until my daughter gets home to hear all about the adventure of her week. And that's good for us both.

For, while I love the convenience and opportunity of this wired world we live in, I also think it can take away some of those critical moments of learning independence for our kids. Knowing that they can always reach us for advice, knowing that they can always call us to pull them out of a sticky situation means that our kids don't learn to problem solve for themselves. It can mean that they don't learn to rely on God instead of on their parents.

Don't get me wrong. I think having a cell phone can save a life in the right situation. I don't really want to go back to a world where they don't exist. But I do think it's important that we examine exactly how this wired world is affecting our kids. We need to make deliberate choices about how we use technology. We need to think about whether we're hovering too much and stealing valuable moments of independence from our kids.

My daughter is learning to make choices this week. She's learning that she doesn't need my input on everything. She's learning to rely on her own judgment and on God's power and strength. Because I'm not available on a minute-to-minute basis, she can learn those things.

Our job as parents is to move our kids from dependence on us to dependence on God. If, as our kids mature, we're constantly in between them and God, they won't ever learn to seek Him first. They won't learn to rely on Him instead of us.

So, take some time today to think about how connected you are to your kids. Is the technology in your home impeding the transition from your child being dependent on you to your child being dependent on God? Are there changes you need to make in how much you help you kids when they have a problem? Do you need to change your role from problem-solver to someone who points them to God, the ultimate problem-solver?