Francis Chan joins us from San Francisco one more time as our guest on the Ask Pastor John podcast. Francis, I want to conclude our episodes with you by asking about parenting in the digital age. You have six kids, and number seven is on the way. As a dad, I find this to be one of the biggest struggles in parenting. Have you and Lisa found any keys to setting parameters around the time your kids spend on screens, computers, devices, video games, and so on, in their leisure time?
I am pretty authoritative in the house, so if I say, “Look, you know, you’ve got forty-five minutes a day,” or an hour a day, that is just the way it is going to be. And they know better than to argue with that.
But the whole computer, iPad, movies, video games problem, a lot of that is our fault. We can’t blame it on the kids. We get too busy to parent and so we let the videos keep them occupied. So in our home we do limit their time and we monitor what they watch.
But so much of it is me — like, I need to go out, grab my son, and throw the football. I need to grab my daughter, take her to dinner, go to the beach. We need to interact with them.
Another reason this is so important is that I am meeting more and more kids that don’t know how to talk to people; they don’t know how to interact. It’s like they don’t even want to look up from their screen. And we have to remember that it hurts the kingdom when we raise socially awkward children. We need to raise kids who know how to interact, how to have conversations with believers and unbelievers. I mean, we are raising soldiers. We are raising missionaries. Our job is to get these kids to the point where they can get into the world, and start conversations with people, and bring the light of Jesus and the message of the gospel to them.
And so to me the big crime in the video thing and the video game stuff is not just that they are attached to this screen, but that they are not being useful for the kingdom and conversing with people. And it distracts them in their prayer lives, and they can’t have that singular focus of what it looks like to just be quiet in a room, adoring Jesus and enjoying his presence.