Turn my eyes from looking at what is worthless; give me life in your ways. Psalm 119:37 (CSB)
This verse reminds me of the wasted time spent looking at worthless social media. It is becoming more of a temptation every day, to turn away from social media, YouTube, email, or constant flow of texts.
Addiction to phones is becoming an epidemic around the world. It seems to have invaded all of our lives to some degree. Stop and take a look around you, when you are eating at a restaurant, or waiting in line at the supermarket, or in your car. How about in church? Have you noticed the degree and impact cell phones are having on humanity? Most people, including adults would rather converse with someone online than enjoy the company of those with them.
Have you ever wondered what causes this attraction? Why have we lost interest in the people around us?
A human is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow. Psalm 144:4 (CSB)
Parents must be an example to their children and those around them. This is difficult, I know, I was finding myself looking at my phone too often. First, I had to realize the time I was spending with those around me was limited. All of us must show we value those around us by giving them our full attention.
Instead of praising our children on social media, we need to show our love for them by being present when they are talking to us. Expressing our love means there is nothing more important than them, at the moment. There are no emails more important, no videos on social media more important, no texts more important, they are the most important person. Our children will not wait on us, they will grow up all too soon. We will be old, all too soon. Then, we will wonder why we are not important to our children. Do not let those precious moments pass by. If we are unavailable mentally when our children need us the most, they will probably be unavailable when we need them the most.
Parents are complaining about children being on their phones constantly. Parents are asking for suggestions when dealing with defiant children, as long as the suggestion is not taking away phones.
Many parents of teens soon realize the trouble that comes with phones and electronic devices. Be warned when you give a child a cell phone, this is the first step to disconnecting them from you and the family.
You see, we live in a world that is becoming accustomed to seeing people looking down, but almost no social contact. And parents are doing the best they can. So, let’s dive in and look at some ways to get children away from the online world.
- Don’t try to go “cold turkey”, do not attempt to take away phones and devices, this will lead to arguments, frustration, and usually giving up. Try subtle less dramatic changes.
- Parents must be committed to be a role model. It’s time for parents to put down their phones and focus on the people around, especially your children. No more checking social media or email. Live life, do not watch others on social media, living their lives.
- Go on non-tech outings. Take short trips to areas without internet. When this becomes frustrating to your children, distract them with family activities like hiking, biking, museums, movies, etc. They will return to their phones when they are able, but they are learning to have fun without phones, and they are learning to disconnect.
- Invite their friends over for “game night”. Children will balk at the term “game night”, be creative and call it something else. Cell phones are to be left at the door. Children will scoff at this, in the beginning, so be prepared, but don’t give up. The first few times of using this tactic, only take phones for the first couple of hours, gradually increasing the length of time. Game night should consist of board games, card games, competitive games, and most of all funny games. There are many of these available, it will just take a little searching.
- Encourage your children to have friends over to cook, bake, or build When we are using our hands and our minds for some purposeful activity, we cannot be on our phones. Be sure to find a need for this activity, something that is important to the children. Doing things with friends is important to teens and preteens. In addition, you are helping build a group of young people putting down phones, even if it is only for a short time.
- Create an outdoor project. Be creative, this could include anything from building bird feeders, to working in a neighborhood garden. Give them the responsibility of planning and completing a project. Avoid taking over or offering too many suggestions.
- Volunteer as a family at a food bank, homeless shelter, or after school program. The list of places needing help is endless, find the one that best fits your family and get started. You will all be glad you did.
- Encourage your children to start their own charity or become a leader in a charity near and dear to your family. When children are given responsibility, they usually surprise everyone by exceeding our expectations.
Whether you use one of these suggestions or others, try to be an example by disconnecting yourself and value family time. Children are very impressionable; they are seeking someone to validate their feelings. Try to give them your full attention. You may be surprised at how quickly things can turn around. However, do not misunderstand, depending on how addicted children are to their phones, this can be a long and painful journey, but it will pay off in the long run.