We have a huge problem in America. (Well, ok, we have many!) but this one affects us all.
We are perpetually distracted.
Have you ever sat in a waiting room and noticed that almost every single person is on their phone? Even the toddlers have something to entertain them.
Have you been at a family gathering and everyone is looking at their phones and not at each other?
I'll be honest: I hate it. I hate it for the people scrolling, and I hate it for my children and the kids in their generation who see almost everyone constantly looking at their phones, almost everywhere they go.
A few thoughts on this in regards to adults:
People are missing out on so much by being glued to their phones in public places. People watching? Being observant? Being present? These are skills that are disappearing.
People have forgotten how to be bored, and need to learn again.
When we're constantly being entertained, there's no time for thinking. As believers, we need time to think, to meditate on Scripture, to ponder things. Being alone with our thoughts is not possible with constant entertainment at our fingertips.
Checking social media is an addiction. Checking our phones every single time we have a moment of doing nothing? Red light, bathroom break, sitting down for a moment to rest? We need to resist the temptation.
The people on our social media care nothing about us, and do not deserve every spare second of our days. That may sound harsh, but the most important people in our lives are the ones in our homes, the ones we talk to on the phone and the ones we see at church and family gatherings. The majority of the people on our social media accounts are mere acquaintances and are not deserving of our constant time and attention.
People are losing the art of communicating. At family gatherings, when there's more than a dozen people around, how many people do you see sitting on their phones? I would guess the answer is a lot. And when you're talking to someone, how often is that person typing or looking at something on their phone? In my opinion, that is truly unnecessary and shows that the person really doesn't care what you have to say, or that what's on their phone is more important. We have lost the ablility to listen well.
A few thoughts on this in regards to children:
They need us to be fully present. They need us to look them in the eyes when they talk to us, and when we talk to them. They need us to listen to them without distraction. They need us to watch them jump for the hundredth time and read them books. They need us to watch them play sometimes. They need us to be fully present!
Children do not need a tablet. Yes, that's an unpopular opinion in our culture, but it's the truth. They do not need constant entertainment because 1) children need to be bored. Being bored requires them to use their imagination and that is SO important! 2) children need to be taught to sit still without putting an electronic in front of them. Sitting still in the buggy, at a restaurant, at church... this is a skill that is learned, and we're not teaching them anything by keeping them distracted. We're just taking the easy way out and keeping them busy.
Children do not need a TV in their room. Again, constant entertainment is not healthy!
Children need to be engaged in life, and an electronic makes this impossible when being used. When they're riding in a car, let them just ride and look at everything through the window. When they're in a buggy, talk to them as you grocery shop and let them see everyone and everything around them. When they're at home, keep electronics out of their hands and let them play! They need to engage with you and their siblings. They need the space to use their imaginations.
Children learn by example. They need to see us listening well. They need to see us sitting and thinking, without picking up our phone. They need to see us reading books. They need to see us being engaged in life instead of a little device in our hand.
What is truly important? If we're being honest I think we were all better off before we had all this information at our fingertips... before we were told what's healthy and what's not when it comes to food, what's best for baby, and even watching reels about other people's lives. I think people were much more at peace before we had unlimited access to.. well, everything!
All that to say: nothing on our phone or computers is more important than the people around us. All of the information, all of the famous influencers, all of the opinions... none of it truly matters. Let's be people who take a giant step back from this little device in our hands, and take a leap forward into being present with our families. We as individuals will benefit from it, and more importantly, our children will be the better for it!