A few years back, our chiropractor had a contest. The point of the contest was for us customers to promote her on social media, give positive reviews, and to refer new business.
She had everything we did allocated on points, and there were a number of prizes. The Grand Prize was an iPad mini. They had just come out, and were a hot item.
Well, we won the iPad!
The next six months were a change for us. Everyone was excited! My wife started downloading all kinds of apps, and I kept seeing iTunes charges on our bank ledger. We downloaded a variety of games for the children. I got to hear all kinds of creative and musical ring tones and alerts due to Apple’s supreme creativity. Everyone love it!
But also, I noticed our children were playing on it…all the time.
They were fighting over who got to play on it.
They were fighting while they were playing with it.
They were fighting all the time, even when they weren’t on the iPad.
They would get so consumed by it that they couldn’t hear us call them by name.
Heather and I have been very intentional about how we raise our children. That’s why six months later it was easy to see the change, and what caused it.
Everything seemed to be going downhill. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, seemed to get in the way of iPad time…even Bible study.
When I saw that they were antsy to get to the iPad, even when we were talking about our Lord and Savior, I knew enough was enough. Heather had been thinking the same thing.
But what happened next shocked us both.
We gathered our children together on our bed. We told them about the changes that we had seen, and that we were going to take the iPad away.
My oldest daughter, Noelani, (around 10-11 at that time, I believe), started crying.
“Oh man,” I thought. “This is worse than I thought.”
Then she started bawling uncontrollably, and started thanking us.
She explained that she didn’t like what was happening to her. She explained that it scared her that she was having extremely negative thoughts and emotions. Anger, bitterness, jealousy, and an overall obsession about the iPad had become commonplace for her, when such emotions were very rare before.
Even my 10 year old daughter could connect the dots.
I was speechless. The other children were in shock, as well.
Noelani’s reaction cemented our decision to take away the iPad. But it also impressed upon us how little things that can do so much good, can also lead to dangerous temptations. (Later on, my friend Joe Martin, who runs the #1 Podcast for Christian men on iTunes, told me about an interview he did with Brad Huddleston, and that the symptoms I told him about were telltale signs of digital addiction. Check out the interview here.)
And my family was almost forever changed for the worse because of an iPad we didn’t even buy.
Was it because iPads are inherently evil? No.
Was it because as parents we mismanaged our children and their iPad use? Probably.
Should I let my inability to functionally integrate an iPad into the character development of my children get in the way of them having a free iPad? Absolutely.
There are some things I can handle, and some things I struggle with. I am going to parent with intention toward my strengths. I will work towards mitigating my weaknesses.
Maybe if my daughter was in your house, she wouldn’t have reacted so negatively to an iPad.
But I am doing the best I can, with the children I have, and the strengths and weaknesses I have.
Never, I mean NEVER, let ANYTHING come between directing your children toward Jesus Christ and having Christ-like character.
For me, it was an iPad.
What is it for you?