Do I Need To Renew My Mind, And If So How?
In her 2019 book, The Enchanted Hour, Wall Street Journal columnist Meghan Cox Gurdon shares the power of reading (particularly reading aloud) on our brain development vs. the hours spent on an iPad or iPhone which provides little to no brain stimulation—particularly on young children.
When it comes to “Understanding Our Vulnerability to Media,” (a topic I cover in Chapter 2 of In Whose Image?) Gurdon cites multiple studies that document the importance of reading vs. the negative impact screen time has on our brains—particularly in our formative years. As Gurdon states, “The evidence has become so overwhelming that social scientists now consider read-aloud time one of the most important indicators of a child’s prospects in life.”
Along these lines, Gurdon demonstrates how “too much screen time is a setup for atrophy, or underdevelopment of…higher order brain networks [such as language, imagination, and attention].” As a matter of fact, she declares that “If what we know about brain plasticity is true, it will be harder for kids who grow up with underdeveloped networks to learn, to come up with their own ideas, to imagine what is going on in stories and connect it with their own lives, and they’ll be much more dependent on stuff being fed to them.”
Yikes! So if a teen was not read to growing up, and he is now spending hours on screens every day, how does he renew his mind?
For starters, activate your teen’s iPhone “Screen Time” and limit their screen time to less than two hours a day. As San Diego State Professor Jean Twenge discovered, “Teens who spent more time seeing their friends in person, exercising, playing sports, attending religious services [church, youth group, Bible study, and/or devotion/prayer time with God], reading or even doing homework were happier.”
While this may sound like common sense, I think your child/teen will be pleasantly surprised by the power of honoring God through the renewing of their mind—emotionally, academically, and spiritually—when they put down their devices, turn off the TV and computer, and engage the world around them—especially the Creator whose image they bear.
Gurdon does not spurn technology, but instead encouragers parents and educators to heed the warnings of groups such as The American Academy of Pediatrics, which provide healthy parameters around screen time—beginning with no screen time from the ages of 0-2 years old—to allow for proper brain development.
As Gurdon shares, “The Enchanted Hour is for anyone who loves books, stories, art, and language. It is for everyone who wants to give babies and toddlers the best possible start in life, everyone who cares about the tenderhearted middle-schooler and the vulnerable, inquisitive teenager…[T]his book is for everyone who has felt the dulling of emotional connection and the muddying of once-clear ideas and priorities in an era of noisy ephemera, technological enthrallment, and an overbearing news cycle.”
Pick up a copy of Gurdon’s The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in the Age of Distraction today!