Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do…….. I Chronicles 12:32
Teenagers are digitally connected like no other generation before. Cell phones, iPods, iPads, Xboxes, Facebook, Twitter, Mp3’s, DS4’s etc etc etc. As a father of five I often hear from my “Screenagers” that I am not “up with the times”. Fortunately, God has challenged parents not to be up with the times but rather understand the times.
Like the men of Issachar, God has called this generation of parents to understand the technological age in which we live and respond in a fashion that channels our children’s digital passions in a Godward direction.
Navigating the internet and the multitude of screens that my teens have mastered is a skill that almost seems impossible for this technologically challenged dad. A little reminder for the electronically faint of heart: Be of good courage! Jesus has overcome world. If His Spirit truly indwells us then we have a power and understanding to overcome any device that this culture may throw at your family. Remember, God put you here as parents in this particular time in history for a purpose. He can and will equip you to shepherd your tech savvy teenagers.
I have recently encountered some setbacks in leading my “wireless” family through these perils at bedtime. In my research I have discovered multiple dangers that can arise in this screen focused generation when it comes to sleep and rest. This is the first of a series that will discuss some of the modern technological perils that our young ones face and how to positively influence your children through the media maze.
A reminder about sleep from God’s word: “The fear of the LORD leads to life, So that one may sleep satisfied, untouched by evil.” Proverbs 19:23
When used at the right time in the right setting with the right supervision, these gadgets can become tools for mental and spiritual growth. But if we are not diligent as parents, this media culture can become an instrument of evil – especially during the nighttime hours. Just as God’s eyes never close in slumber, we must keep in mind that Satan is just as active in the darkness. The Devil also has his own purposes for this media age: squandering time, displacing affections, and distracting attention away from God who deserves all of our worship.
Texting is becoming one of the greatest intrusions of sleep and rest among teenagers. One recent study revealed that teens on average were texting 33 times per night with up to three different people. A 2009 study in Belgium noted that 44% of 16 year olds were loosing sleep over texting issues with 12% being awakened every other night to answer texts.
Unlike the days gone by where the phone was permanently placed on the wall, cell phones, laptops and iPods are portable. Many adolescents bring their gadgets to bed with them setting them up for interrupted sleep.
Remove the temptation to text
The simplest way to deal with the hazards of twilight texting is removing the temptation altogether. Have your kids turn in their various computer gadgets before bedtime in a central location at a specific time. Until adolescents are wise enough to make good decisions about their emotional, physical and spiritual health they need to be directed by their parents.
Educate your adolescent on the perils of bedtime texting
Instruct them on the health hazards of not getting adequate interrupted sleep such as daytime drowsiness, poor daytime functions and mood swings. If these habits persist for long periods of time psychiatric disturbances can surface. The habit of nighttime texting can also lead to a lifetime of poor sleep hygiene. Once these poor sleep habits have been embedded they can persist into the chronic insomnia of adulthood. Encourage your children to establish good sleeping habits early in life that will promote rest and health.
Ever heard of sleep texting? Just like sleep walking, kids are now unconsciously texting during their sleep–unaware of the fact that they were texting during the night. New maladies are surfacing to describe these changes in sleep patterns of screenagers. Ironically these “connected” kids usually fail to understand the connection of their poor sleep habits with drowsiness and diminished daytime function.
Instruct on God’s plans for boundaries and dealing with temptation
This is a great opportunity for believing parents to instruct their children on dealing with peer pressure and learning how to set boundaries in interpersonal relationships.
A lot of texting revolves around being on top of everything that’s happening with their peers. Teens fear the possibility of being left out. Being aware of what’s happening in the group–no matter how trivial it seems to parents–is of paramount importance to teenagers. Think about the pressure to answer texts from the opposite sex–a delayed reply may convey the impression that one texting is not liked. The pressure is real. Parents–step up the challenge and instruct your teens.
Instruct them on God’s plan for sleep and rest
Remind your children of how they were created to turn off their brains and rest. God did not create humans like ducks in which one half of the brain is always on while the other sleeps. God never intended for the brain to multitask during sleep. He physiologically created man to rest for about eight hours in a day. Just as God created your brain to turn off and turn in during rest encourage your children to turn off and turn in their electronic gadgets.
Remind them of how God works for them as they rest. That He is in control of their relationships–especially when they are placed in the proper perspective from a God centered life.
Model this lifestyle as parents
In child rearing, more habits are caught than taught by our children. Kids are smarter than we know. They are watching to see if what we teach is in line with our daily walk. Sound familiar? Turn off the gadgets and tune in to your kids.
As you model and instruct what it means to “fear of the Lord” to the next generation, the One who never slumbers or sleeps will place a hedge around your family. As parents, one of the disciplines we need to pass on to the next generation is that of good sleep habits.
Read more at Sleep: The Great Physician’s Prescription For Rest
– – – written by Charles W. Page, M.D., FACS. Dr. Page, who is a sleep deprived author, surgeon and father of five, enjoys watching sunsets with his family in their Texas sized tree house. You can download a free video clip that explores the spiritual component of sleep and insomnia at http://surrenderedsleep.blogspot.com