Friday, March 1, 2013

Device Distractions

Our great grandparents would never have believed that one device could be used as a...
  • phone
  • mailbox
  • map
  • flashlight
  • compass
  • messenger
  • calendar
  • game room
  • camera
  • movie theater
  • bank
  • library...
Amazing! But is having so much at our fingertips really such a benefit?

In 1965, The Byrds put King Solomon's words from Ecclesiastes to music. If Solomon were writing those words today, he might include a disclaimer about smart phones/devices.*

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sow; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
A time for phones, and a time to put them down*

*Disclaimer: There will be a time for all of the afore mentioned things unless you choose not to set the device aside. Device distraction hinders having the "know how" and time to plant, reap, kill, heal, break down, build up, weep, laugh, mourn, dance, embrace, show restraint, get up, win, lose, keep, sow, speak, love what you need to love, hate what should be hated, go to war with things/people to be battled, find peace in the everyday things...

We face a challenge as parents today, not just raising our children, but raising them while holding a device in their hands.
  • Some parents have chosen not to supply their children with a phone or device
  • Some have trusted their children with them, but place restrictions on the use
  • Others moms and dads have given the phones with no limits or boundaries.

Our family has fallen in the middle. We have provided phones for two or our children for several reasons:

1. Convenience of getting in touch with them. (no more wondering if you have track practice and if so, where/when should I pick you up - texting can be a great tool for families)

2. When in history have we been able to look up what we need/want to know without visiting the library? Phones can be a huge help and educational resource when used in that way.

3. Our kids will soon be living in this world as young adults without our guidance. Because of that, we felt it was necessary to teach and train them about restricting themselves before they are on their own.

Those sound nice and neat, and I'm just telling you now, not much is black and white. Life is messy and so is this phone/device issue. Here are some of our guidelines:

1. The phone is ours...We paid for it so I can pick it up and read the texts, instagram, etc. to get a feel for where you are as a person and who you are "hanging out with." I know you won't like it, but it's my job to protect you right now so it just has to be. 

2. After school, the phone is turned in to me or dad to give them time to get their school work done/rooms picked up, clothes washed, help with dinner, outside to play basketball, creativity, etc. They get it back after dinner if their "stuff" is done. If they say they need their phone to do homework, I will give them mine or they can use a computer/ipad that doesn't light up or buzz when they have a message. (Notifications can be turned off. A good idea) For all the great things about smart phones, one of the worst is the distraction and time sucker that they can be.

3. Phones come to our room at bedtime (9:30 for younger, 10:00 for older). There is a time to sleep and a time to be awake. With the phone vibrating, it's hard to get the sleep they need. There are about a million excuses to this rule, (believe me, I've heard most of them) but we stand firm on it for their sake. We sometimes look through the texts. It usually depends on how that child is doing with relationships, school, etc. Seems like moms have a God given sense about when something is being hidden and when kids are being sincere and honest.

We also try to know the passwords to most of the apps they frequently use, but there are new apps everyday. So, developing a trusting relationship with your child is still the best way to know what's going on in their lives. How do you do that? Having them put their devices aside will frustrate them at first, but it's usually a great way to spend some time with them and get on the same page.

Our kids are not the enemy in this and neither are you (though your child may make you feel that way). God has a plan for each of our children - we are all here for this time in history when over 600 million smart phones/devices have been sold. As the parents, it's part of our responsibility to see that they aren't hindered from knowing who God is, who their family is and what His purpose is for them because of the electronics in their possession. Not an easy task, but definitely worth the effort.  Empower them to use their phone, not be consumed by it. There is a time for everything and now is the time to be wide awake as a parent, to sow what is sometimes difficult; to reap what only God can accomplish. Now is the time...

Check out this article for some helpful tips on determining if you or your children are addicted to the social side of what our devices offer. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
Are You OverDosing on Social Media?