February 16th, 2019| Topic: RaMbLeS | 0


A recent UK-wide survey of 2,000 families with children below 14 years of age—conducted by CensusWide—revealed an interesting fact: On average those kids were spending 23 hours a week on smartphones and similar gadgets (3:18 hours a day)—twice as much time they spend conversing with their parents—12 hours a week (1:43 hours a day)!

This comes after England’s chief medical officer, Dame Sally Davies, issued a warning to parents to take control of their child’s devices and ban them at mealtimes and bedtimes.

Parents are responsible, too, of course. 80% of parents said they had tried to persuade their kids to spend less time on those phones. 40% confessed they had given the children these devices in order to keep them occupied. 66% wished they had more family time. And so, 54% of parents worry their wards are missing out on life by attending to electronic gizmos.

And worry, they should.

For all kinds of reasons. But one of them caught my attention.

Jack Shonkoff, pediatrician at Harvard and Boston Children’s, and Director of The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, calls the signaling system between children and adults the “serve and return” style of communication, a duet of sorts.

Serve and return interactions shape brain architecture. When an infant or young child babbles, gestures, or cries, and an adult responds appropriately with eye contact, words, or a hug, neural connections are built and strengthened in the child’s brain that support the development of communication and social skills. Much like a lively game of tennis, volleyball, or Ping-Pong, this back-and-forth is both fun and capacity-building. When caregivers are sensitive and responsive to a young child’s signals and needs, they provide an environment rich in serve and return experiences.”

Responsive and mutually reciprocal communication is, apparently, critical for proper development.

Noted Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, professor of psychology at Temple University, and Director of its Infant Language Laboratory:

Language is the single best predictor of school achievement, and the key to strong language skills are those back-and-forth fluent conversations between young children and adults.”

So, Shonoff recommends, parents should notice the “serve” and share the child’s focus of attention, return the “serve” supportively and encouragingly, and take turns to keep the interaction going.

After all, all speech is answering speech. We were all spoken to before we uttered our first words, be they “Mama,” “Papa,” “Mine!” or “No!” Immersed first in a sea of words from birth, over a period of months, we learn to babble, vocalize, and finally speak.

And this goes for the interaction of the sons and daughters of God with their heavenly Father.

Prayer, too, is always answering speech, a response to what God has first said, primarily in the Bible, the Scriptures of the Christian church. There would be no praying were it not for the first word that came from God.

And keeping that duet going is critical for our proper development and children of God.

O You who hear prayer, To You all men come.
Psalm 65:2

Because our God is a prayer-hearing God, we go to him.

With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view,
be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18

All prayer and petition. In all times. With all perseverance. For all saints.

So …

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18

Less talking to others; more praying to the Father!

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