With the growing influence of things like gaming or social media, today, kids spend an average of seven hours a day online, with that number quickly rising to up to nine hours for teens. Unfortunately, the negative effects of technology on children are only rising as these platforms are addictive—designed to harmfully reward the brain, train a short attention span, and inaccurately influence our children about how the world works.
For many teachers and parents old enough to have experienced the evolution of technology from chunky box monitors, desktops, and flip phones to thin tablets and smartphones, the constant changes in technology can be overwhelming. It’s easy to feel disconnected and out of touch with young people suffering under technology addiction in children. Kids these days are dealing with constant distractions, leaving many parents and teachers feeling like they’re in a battle for attention to show kids what’s good and teach them about God.
With such prevalent technology addiction in children, how do we effectively reach kids for God in a world where they are more and more connected to technology instead of us? Here are four Gospel-focused healthy alternatives to screen time for kids you can use to help fight against technology addiction in children.
1. Focus on Relationship
The first and most important tool in the battle against technology addiction in children is relationship. Humans were created to need eye contact, personal interaction, and feelings of genuine connection, camaraderie, and love. That’s why technology addiction in children is so prevalent, as social media often tries to simulate this need for human connection. However, it will never come close to beating the real thing. So, if you’re looking for healthy alternatives to screen time for kids and new ways to engage with them, it’s time you learn how to become as relational as possible.
Besides showing a personal interest in the child, introduce them to healthy alternatives to screen time for kids by playing a board game or card game with them, listening to a Gospel-focused audiobook together while drawing, or capturing their focus with a magic trick, science experiment, or mind game—anything that utilizes personal interaction. You could also use technology to your advantage to build relationships by laughing together over your attempts to play their favorite video game, or watching their favorite Tiktok videos and asking what they like about it. Be sure to show them good media content you also enjoy, and use it as an opportunity to have open conversations about what makes content good or bad in God’s eyes.
2. Emphasize Truth
The second tool for combating technology addiction in children and finding healthy alternatives to screen time for kids, is emphasizing the importance of truth. When kids hear the truth of the Gospel, the Holy Spirit within them will move in response and confirm it as good. Kids need answers to big questions like “why am I here?”, “why do bad things happen?”, and “what do I do with guilty feelings?” They need to find the hope and new life that comes only through belief in Jesus Christ. Screens and social media can help temporarily distract children from the deep pull of those questions, but it will never satisfy them the way God does, while consistently exposing them to the truth of the Gospel will only make this more and more apparent to them. If you are equipped to communicate the Gospel clearly, then you are equipped to reach children with it!
If you want to learn how to better share the Gospel to children of all ages, Child Evangelism Fellowship® offers many resources to help you grow in confidence as you lead children to Christ. To learn more, subscribe to our free print or digital IMPACT Magazine™ by clicking here or go to cefonline.com/impact.
3. Experience Nature
The third tool for fighting technology addiction in children and introducing healthy alternatives to screen time for kids, is getting kids into nature. Kids love nature, and for good reason too! Just look at this beautiful world God has created for us to enjoy! You’ll never go wrong by exploring nature with them and showing them how a loving, intelligent designer gave us all that we have—including their own amazing body and life. Fake waterfalls on a screen can’t compete with a hike to real falls or a conversation about the amazing design of water, the water cycle, and its utilization by plants, animals, and your body.
Even just five minutes with an insect on a window ledge provides an opportunity to pull kids away from screens and into God’s wonderful world of creation—making getting kids into nature one of the best healthy alternatives to screen time for kids. Be sure to make time in your schedule to prioritize regular outdoor adventures, nature walks, or lessons about God’s beautiful creation while getting kids into nature.
4. Enjoy Activities
Last but not least, the fourth tool against technology addiction in children and leveraging healthy alternatives to screen time for kids, is engaging in physical activity. Whether it’s engaging in team sports with a church group, using an active game to help review a Bible lesson, or simply taking a walk outside for a bit to appreciate God’s creation around us, encouraging kids to get up and move can be a big help in cutting down screen time.
Kids are active, growing creatures. It’s good for them to move around and play, especially after being sedentary in front of a screen all day! Make things fun, but make physical activity a consistent priority within every day.
Use CEF’s Healthy Alternative to Screen Time for Kids
Want to combine all four of these tools into one for an exceptional use of biblical, healthy alternatives to screen time for kids? Find or start a Good News Club® or summer 5-Day Club® near you for an after-school program designed to help kids experience relationship, the truth of the Gospel, God’s wonderful creation, and all the physical activity of playing games with their friends as they learn about Jesus.
While hard, today’s challenges of technology addiction in children only continue to show us why it’s so important to keep coming up with creative ways to disciple kids. Don’t give up—God is helping you! As one CEF® missionary from Armenia shares, “In clubs and meetings, kids have a short attention span. The world is dulling their attention and minds. Before starting our camp ministry, we told a child he would not be allowed to use his phone during camp, and he responded with ‘I will die without my phone.’ The answer to a statement like that for me is an enthusiastic ‘I’m going to show you a whole other exciting world!’”
For more encouraging stories from ministries around the world, check out our free IMPACT Magazine at cefonline.com/impact.
Battling against technology addiction in children by giving biblical, healthy alternatives to screen time for kids, like getting out in nature, isn’t only worth it—it’s essential for helping them learn how to thrive in this magnificent world God has given us.