Our family had a very interesting "discussion" this past Sunday after church. I mentioned that I felt that it was not appropriate for children (meaning those 18 and under) to bring electronic media with them to church meetings. This generated quite a reaction from my adult children. Let me take you on a journey through my thoughts and then we will make a detour through theirs.
My position - First of all, I think that children are becoming too dependent on cell phones, iTouch, and iPad for their entertainment. I see preschoolers in the grocery store being pushed in a cart by their mothers while staring at a movie on a cellphone screen. We have all seen teenagers glued to their phones, texting frantically. It is my opinion that children can take a 3-hour break while at church services on Sunday and remove themselves from electronic stimulation and this is why:
* Small children need to learn how to control themselves. They need to learn how to sit and be still for a period of time. They need to learn how to do this without being hypnotized by a glowing screen.
* Older children and teens should NOT be allowed to bring an iTouch or cell phone to church. They WILL play games and text on it. What else would they do with it? It is not appropriate in Sacrament Meeting or Youth meetings. It is a huge distraction and disrespectful to their teachers. There is absolutely NO valid reason for this to take place.
* Church is for worship. Prayer will never be digitized. Worshiping should not be either. I do not feel it is reverent to fiddle with electronics during church meetings (this applies to adults as well). It is difficult to listen to the speakers, enjoy the musical numbers or feel the spirit when you are distracted by a cell phone or iPad.
* Children can detour from church related aps to regular games when their parents are not looking. Are Tiny Wings and Lady and the Tramp appropriate for Sacrament Meeting?
* Sundays should be set apart from other days. They should be different. We should make the Lord's day feel special. We can do this by taking a 3 hour break from our electronics. Or wearing Sunday clothes all day. We can avoid secular music and only listen to religious pieces. We can refrain from watching television. Or playing with friends. Many families have Sunday customs that they follow to set that day apart from all the others.
Now having said all that - some of my children (I will not mention names) have a very different opinion. Their position is this - electronic media is part of our lives. It is here to stay and we might as well just accept that and let our children use it at church. (However, they do agree with my position on teens and cell phones.) These are the reasons they gave:
* There are many religious aps for phones and iPads that are good for entertaining little ones during Sacrament Meeting. Puzzles, coloring pages, and other aps that utilize scripture heros are available. They feel that this is preferable to say a Mickey Mouse coloring book, or quiet book that has shape sorting, shoe lacing and other non-religious activites.
* It is difficult to keep small children entertained and quiet during meetings and parents need all the help they can get.
* Parents want to bring their devices to church meetings to access their scriptures.
* It is less cumbersome to bring a device to the meetings rather than a bag filled with activities for their child.
* Parents can supervise their children to help them avoid inappropriate use.
I am very interested in knowing how others feel about this topic. Please leave a comment and let me know your position, thoughts or feelings.