Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Real, safe conversation

What did your Thanksgiving look like?

I'm not talking about the weather. I'm not talking about the food.

I'm talking about the people around the table. Were the guests all talking together or were most of your family members looking at their own phones, scrolling through Facebook or checking emails?

Thankfully, my holiday was filled with much laughter and communication but sadly, this may be a lost art.

This is the first generation that thinks it's normal to sit in a group without participating in the group; to gather around a table while each person carries on his own conversation with friends far away.

Recently, my friend Susan Vigliano, posted a list of iphone guidelines. They were spot on. Our kids don't have phones but the older ones do have devices so we all sat down together and looked at Susan's list. We adapted it to fit our family, adding to parts, subtracting others, but all with the goals of safe device use and healthy social habits.

Grandparents and those without children aren't exempt from this, either. I recently spoke to a grandmother who told me that when she travels out of state to visit her grandchildren, she hates to sit down with them, only to have each of them pull out their phones and ignore her.  She has started to text them all while sitting amongst them, to remind them that she just traveled far to see them. And then there's the youtube video of a family sitting down to dinner and when the sons pull out their phones and distractedly pass the pepper instead of the salt, the father pulls out his typewriter and starts typing.

I highly recommend that you take this list, discuss it with your children and make it fit your own family or home. And parents, you might need to look at your own habits before you can enforce these guidelines among your children.

I Phone Guidelines for teens -- Copy and paste into a doc to go over with your teen.

1. It does not go to school.

2. It does not go into the bathroom.

3. It does not go into the bedroom.

4. It goes to bed with Mom and Dad at night.

5. It can go to youth group and church on Sunday to use the Bible Aps – no texting or games during teaching time. That’s really rude.

6. Only add apps that Dad approves.

7. The camera is for appropriate photos and video only. Anything mom can’t see isn’t appropriate. There should be no question or gray areas here.

8. Mom and Dad must have the passcode at all times and access to the I Phone anytime they ask.

9. No social media like Instagram, Snap Chat, Facebook etc….until we all agree that it’s a good idea. There are safety issues, but there are also other issues like social development that need careful thought. Developing teens don’t need to count their likes all day. That will make you weird and malformed. Your identity and security come from God. When we agree that it’s a good idea then we become your first friends and have access to your account. Any secret secondary accounts will result in high-level consequences. For instance – a season off sports and/or a long period of grounding.

10. Most of your conversations with friends should be in person, not over text. Text is not the same as communicating in person. People say things in text that they would not say to someone’s face. That makes development irregular. You are the first generation to develop in a significantly irregular way socially. Let’s limit this for that reason. Keep text to about 20% of all communication so that you don’t become a Franken-person.

11. Any more than 45 minutes a day of device use is harmful and unnecessary. People sitting in the same room interacting with other people through devices all the time is very strange and not appropriate. Please limit your use to no more than 45 min a day. Go outside. Go to the movies. Play a board game. Take a bike ride. You need to disconnect from multiple, ongoing conversations all the time. It’s really weird and unnatural. It can’t possibly be good for your brain or your social development. If you need studies, please let me know and I’ll find them. I think you already know this in your gut, but I’d be happy to prove it if you feel it necessary. Your brain needs some quiet and detachment each day. One of the signs of addiction is agitation when the substance is removed. If removal of your device causes agitation then we need to pay attention to that.

12. I don’t care what your friends are doing and what their parents let them do. Period.

13. Violations will result in confiscation of your device at ever increasing degrees for continued violations up to and including permanent loss. One week, one month, three months, six months….permanent loss.

14. Please sign here__________________________

Thanks, Susan!

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