Lent is a time to turn inward, to find ways to return to God. It can be a good time for reflection on what leads us to or from having a rich spiritual life.

Some people choose to look at their use and misuse of something by limiting it during Lent. Our lives are now bombarded by media and technology. For parents of young children, this may be a good time to look as the family’s use of technology and how it affects their life in terms of passing on values, learning, laughing, being physically healthy, etc.

Below are different ways to look specifically at a preschool child’s use of computers. Some of these can also apply to the use of television programs and movies. Further below are additional ways to evaluate your family life. 

Pros and Cons of Computers: 

Look over the information, pray for guidance and evaluate how you feel the computer may or may not benefit your child. Proponents of preschoolers using computers say:

  • Having computer skills is akin to being able to read and write
  • Studies have shown that given a good preschool-level game, children can learn to:

       1. follow instructions 
       2. manage resources
       3. think quickly
       4. make fast decisions
       5. analyze
       6. persevere

  • Children who do not excel socially, academically or physically may excel at computer skills, for which they may gain respect from peers

Opponents of preschoolers using computers say:

  • Preschool children have difficulty separating reality and fantasy and computers do not make that distinction
  • Computers do not develop imaginative or creative thinking, while most spontaneous play of preschoolers does
  • Too much computer use encourages a child to be sedentary
  • Some computer games encourages violent play
  • Time alone on a computer isolates a child
  • Time spent on the computer is time not doing other important activities (using books, art, pretending, climbing, etc.)
  • Research suggests that some games can increase depression and anxiety in children 

Other considerations:

What does your family do to laugh together?

Does your family eat together regularly?

What opportunities do you have to pray with your child?

Do you talk with your child about God’s love for him/her?

Do you read together regularly? Many picture books offer opportunities for discussions, such as a character that is or is not unselfish, concerned for others, caring and appreciative for the natural world (God’s creation), or other values. 

Do you spend time outdoors? Numerous studies show a significant need for unstructured outside play. The benefits from this type of play are almost too numerous to mention. An excellent book on this topic is "Last Child in the Woods" by Richard Louv. See http://richardlouv.com/ 

Check out Anne's website at www.anneneuberger.com.