The Screen-Balanced Family: Six Secrets to a More Connected Family in the 21st Century

Christi and I love working together (okay, most of the time). She’s a go-getter and drives what we do. I want to begin this week by honoring my wife for her persistence in coming up with a way to answer the most commonly asked question we receive, “How can we as parents set limits on technology in our home?” Asked another way, “How can I know I have my child’s heart more than the technology does?

 I realized with the number of parents asking this question it was time to do something to help them. And Christi made it happen.

That’s why I’m super excited to share with you that our first project together is officially complete. It’s called The Screen-Balanced Family: Six Secrets to a More Connected Family in the 21st Century. It’s a video series / workbook combination that walks parents through three phases: why we need to set limits, what limits to set, and how to set them, age appropriately.

And because you’re on this journey with us, I want to let you in on the first secret. Here’s an excerpt from the workbook:

The first secret to being more connected in your marriage and with your kids is respecting the power technology has on your life. I heard my friend and colleague, Dr. Diane Langberg, once say, “Anything you cannot fast from, owns you.” Relationally and emotionally connected families respect the powerful reward mechanisms and positive stimulation built into today’s technologies. They enjoy the rewards, but are not owned or controlled by them. In other words, they know when to shut them off.

When was the last time you turned off your phone for an entire day?

A chopping knife is a valuable tool for cutting up vegetables with greater ease and quality. But a chopping knife must be respected for its purpose, lest you lose a finger. When we respect technology, we’re better able to use it for its purpose, lest we lose control.

One way to respect technology is to learn all of its parts—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Of course, we know the ugly. Or do we? The ease of access to pornographic images, apps introducing your kids to unknown strangers, and social media sites connecting us and our spouses with high school sweethearts or past lovers can set the stage for ugly family breakdown.

On the other hand, the ease and frequency of connection through text messages, social media sites, and other apps are fantastic ways to honor and strengthen our relationships with our spouses and kids.

More connected families also respect one another. For instance, where previous generations might hang out together at the mall, today’s generations hang out together on social networks. Your teenager’s social life is directly linked to today’s technologies. Setting hard limits against these technologies without respecting the motivation behind your son’s or daughter’s use of them could infuriate them and build bigger walls between you.

Respecting your children means you don’t assume the worst about them. Respecting your children also means you don’t give them free reign either.

How to strike a balance is the focus of this series and workbook. Our hope is to genuinely help as many families as possible struggling with this dynamic. If you or someone you know could benefit from it please forward this on or share it.

Now for a brief, but shameless, sales pitch: The Screen-Balanced Family is the most comprehensive resource of its kind I’m aware of.

My favorite part is the printer-friendly interactive family resources. They are super useful. Here are just a few of my favorites:

  • The Good, the Bad, and the Dangerous: Awesomely Helpful Apps and Ones to Watch Out For
  • Screen Life Emotion Log
  • Family Screen Schedule
  • Moments that Matter: Family Activities to Engage in RealLife, Not ScreenLife
  • Family Links: #Selfie Ways to Serve #Otheries

For more detailed information on The Screen-Balanced Family, simply click here.

Thanks for celebrating with us in completing this project and helping families become more connected in the 21st century.

Joshua Straub, Ph.D. is an advocate for families and parenting in the 21st century. He loves coming alongside families to provide encouragement, support and practical counsel. Josh loves combining scientific research with biblical wisdom to provide the best-of-all-worlds perspective on raising stellar kids, having an awesome marriage and enjoying life while doing it. You can read more of the boring professional stuff about Josh and his books here, if you’re interested. Together with his favorite writing partner and wife, Christi, Josh has fun parenting their son Landon and daughter Kennedy. For more encouragement and ideas on marriage and parenting in the 21st century you can join Josh and a growing tribe of awesome families at and follow him on Twitter @joshuastraub or Facebook.