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A new study released by the Barna Group reveals that families are more technology- and media-dependent than ever and could benefit from a healthy dose of stewardship in regard to how they manage their time online, in front of the TV and on their digital devices. And most of those surveyed say they have not heard any kind of teaching in a church about how they can be good stewards of media, entertainment or technology.

Parents are using technology and media to nearly the same degree as their 11- to 17-year-olds, the study suggested. This includes using laptop computers, watching TV and movies, surfing the internet, talking on the telephone and emailing. While parents are spending more time on cell phones and desktop computers, their children are spending more time playing video games, texting and listening to music. 

Amazingly, by nearly a two-to-one ratio, parents think of technology like computers, cell phones and video game systems as making their family life better rather than worse. But the study also noted that families do not intentionally disconnect from the technology they say is so beneficial to them. This results in some behaviors that would have been considered appallingly impolite in previous generations.

Nearly half of parents and teens admitted to emailing, texting or talking on the phone during a meal in the last week. the study found. Forty percent of youth and 33 percent of parents have used two or more devices simultaneously during this time period. Fifty percent of students and 20 percent of parents have emailed or sent text messages in bed in the same time period.

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“Technology is shaping family interactions in unprecedented ways, but we seem to lack a strategic commitment to the stewardship of technology," noted Barna Group president, David Kinnaman. "Parents, tweens and teens need more coaching and input in order to face the countless choices they make regarding how technology affects their attention, interests, talents and resources.”

— The Barna Group

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