Summary: The simplest answer to the question of technology and whether it is a good use or not is “Knowing the nature of God, would this be honoring to Him and the message He wants for us to live and offer to others?”
Infants and toddlers under the age of 2 should not spend any time in front of screens, according to new guidelines issued by the World Health Organization on Wednesday.
The WHO recommends against any screen time for infants, as well as 1-year-olds. Instead, they encourage sedentary time "engaging in reading and storytelling with a caregiver" for up to an hour at a time.
For children between ages 2 and 4, the WHO advises up to one hour at a time in front of screens.
The recommendations are part of broader guidelines on physical activity, sleep and sedentary behavior. The guidelines encourage more physical activity for infants and younger children, with up to 30 minutes of "tummy time" per day for infants, and at least 180 minutes of various physical activities for toddlers and older kids.
"Early childhood is a period of rapid development and a time when family lifestyle patterns can be adapted to boost health gains," said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement.
The guidelines for screen time are similar to recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which suggests no screen time for kids up to 2 years old unless using a video-chatting app like FaceTime.
Multiple studies have linked too much screen time with physical and mental health issues. Last year, the American Heart Association issued a scientific statement urging parents to cut back on their kids' screen time, saying it will increase the odds they become overweight or obese.
A separate, observational study released last year found less time in front of screens combined with the right amount of sleep and physical activity can improve brain function.
In response to concerns, both Apple and Google, which manage the iOS and Android mobile operating systems, respectively, introduced features to mobile devices in 2018 allowing users to monitor and manage how much time they spent in front of their screens.
Did you know 9 out of 10 Americans are online every day? Did you know 8 out of 10 have a smartphone? Did you know 62% of get all their news from the Internet? Did you the majority of usage of the web is for social media, gaming and pornography? Did you know 51% of households now own and use a tablet? http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/01/12/evolution-of-technology/
Technology has been affecting our lives - public and private - with ever increasing regularity. Its effects have been researched and blogged about for some time now. Many would propose that technology is morally neutral. It is but a tool that can be used for evil or good. Technology is “amoral.” However, that is a naive statement when we admit our motivations are never fully altruistic. As Christians, we admit since the days of Adam, our hearts lean towards immoral. As Tim Challies states in his book “The Next Story,” “The things we create assist us in overcoming the consequences of the curse also seek to dominate us, drawing our hearts from away from God rather drawing us toward Him in dependence and faith.” Technology changes how we think and know other human creation poses a greater risk of increasing our thinking of being self reliant, no longer in need of Savior.
Technology not only changes us individually, it redefines community.
An article by the Harvard political science department asked some questions regarding its effects on democracy, political culture and even government policy. The article did little to answer the question except to note the original hopes of greater engagement by more in people in the process has been altered significantly in recent years through the analysis of the public's habits, preferences and viewing habits. It went so far as to state the hope of more involvement has been dashed by a savvy few who have figured ways to effect the debate with sheer amounts of data (some true and some not so much). https://ash.harvard.edu/promise-and-perils-digital-technology
Wes Avram from Yale University also wrote a great piece in 2011 on the connecting of Theology and Technology. As a part of the article he talks of secular gathering in tech capital of Silicon Valley where the young and the old gathered to discuss technology and career. He shares the question many of us are asking tonight as we look at the intersection of theology and technology.
“...Do we resist it, with the hope of preserving an older memory? Do we harness it, with sure confidence that it is a gift from God? Or do we find ways to critically but realistically engage?”
He concluded in a hypermediated world where everyone is connected at all times and much of the under 30 crowd are victims to FOMO - Fear of missing out. We must begin to discuss the reality of missing the greatest of all announcements - life with purpose. While FOMO has been a part of every new generation in the same way there is predictability in the stability of age, there is something different about this moment in history.