This one is for me as much as it is for anyone else. Hi, I’m Katie and I’m one of those “millennial moms.” I grew up watching modern technology develop. I remember going to work with my mom occasionally and happily typing away nonsense on a type writer. I was about 12 when we got our first dial-up internet connection and ridiculously huge computer. In elementary school, I remember getting to play Oregon Trail in the computer lab when we finished our work. I remember how cool it was to get a flip phone and then *gasp* a camera phone. Back when texting was as time consuming as phones got.
Fast forward to today. I’m a wife and a mom of four kids and I, like many others, am addicted to my phone. There, I said it. My phone is more than just a phone to me. It’s my source of news, I read books on it, I shop on it, I take pictures and videos of my kids with it, I send messages to people, I make to-do and wish lists, I check my email, I google a million things every day, I set reminders and plan my calendar, it’s my map, I watch my shows, I check the weather, plan our meals, listen to music, pay our bills, plan vacations, spend way too much time on social media virtually interacting with other humans, and lots of other things all on my handy dandy little computer device I carry around with me everywhere.
All of those things I mentioned are made way more convenient with my phone. But there’s a problem with this. I spend too much time on this thing. If you’re a fellow iPhone user (Android people don’t hate), you may have noticed the latest update included a weekly screen time notification. This has opened my eyes. I don’t have a problem watching too much tv or even limiting my kids screen time. But I have realized I am terrible at limiting my own screen time.
I hope and pray this isn’t negatively affecting my kids. I believe I should try to be the best parent I can and so I feel the need to be better at face-to-face human interaction. So, here are 5 reasons why I think limiting our screen time will make us better parents:
1- First off, when we limit our screen time, we can have more QUALITY TIME! I can’t say this enough. When we are absorbed in whatever we are reading or watching on our phones, we are not paying our kids enough attention. Have you ever been sitting there on your phone and your kid comes up and asks you to play with them? Guilty. That’s when I put the thing down and get down in the floor and play with them. But, they shouldn’t even have to ask. I should be present enough to interact with them without distractions. Just to be clear, I’m not asking you to feel guilty about the time you spend doing necessary adult things: work, chores, other obligations, spending time with the baby over the older child, etc., but am specifically speaking of instances where we are absorbed in our screens in the presence of our children. Quality time spent with our children is so valuable to their upbringing. God entrusted us with these tiny humans that we are to love, care for, and teach, so let’s take advantage of the time we have with them. Deuteronomy 6:7
2- The second reason stems from the first. When we limit our screen time to spend more quality time with our kids, they will not have the opportunity to even think our phones are more important to us than they are. Ouch. Let that one sink in. What are we teaching our tiny humans by our faces being glued to those handheld screens all the time? I’ll tell you what. We are teaching them where our priorities lie. What does God say our priorities should be? Remember, phones did not make the list. God first, others second. Matthew 22:37-39 Self? Well, that didn’t make the list either. I don’t want my kids to EVER think my phone is more important to me than they are. I’m ok with them thinking God is more important to me, because we know God wants to be first in everyone’s lives and I’m even ok with them thinking their dad is more important to me because I want them to see what a healthy marriage should look like, but that’s where I should draw the line. Just as we need to feel loved every day, our children need to see and feel our love for them each day.
3- Thirdly, when we limit our screen time, we will not let discipline slide. Ever notice how kids will act up more when we’re not paying attention? They conspire against us. “Hey, look, mom’s busy talking on the phone. Let’s be loud and obnoxious and we’ll have a few moments of bliss before she gets onto us…hee hee hee.” It’s the same when we’re distracted by our phones. When you tell them to stop doing whatever they are doing wrong, but your heart is not in it, they can tell. They know we’re distracted by our phone and won’t really punish them until the phone has been set down. Sadly, I have recently realized my sweet, little, terrible two year old’s temperament has been much better since I’ve been actively trying to be more present and in the moment and without my phone as much. We should be consistent with how we decide to discipline our children so they know what to expect as God is consistent and unchanging in His discipline for us. Proverbs 29:17 says,” discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.”
4- The fourth reason why we should limit our screen time is that we will be more patient and kind in our interactions with our kids and other people too. Phones are such a distraction from real life. It’s not a good way to live being distracted all the time. Remember when we used to see those news stories of dumb people falling down or knocking things over on sidewalks because they were too absorbed in their phones to notice what was going on around them? We have become those dumb people, my friends. As parents, at the end of the day, we are tired and probably stressed about whatever adult issues we’re dealing with that day so we will already have reasons to be impatient. Let’s take a deep breath and give our kids the patience and kindness they need. Not to mention that we are commanded to give those things to others. Galations 5:22
5- And lastly, when we limit our screen time, we will have more opportunities to teach our children what being a Christian looks like. Teaching them God’s word and His will for their lives, answering their questions, teaching them what being a servant looks like, letting them see what it means to deny themselves daily. Teaching our children to love God…this should be our ultimate goal as parents, should it not? How we do this will look different to everyone, but it is so very important that we make the time to do it. They need to see what denying themselves daily looks like. They need us to teach them. Matthew 16:24
These are all things we know we should be doing, but I am also familiar with the struggle to find enough time in each day to accomplish what needs to be done. There’s the work, the laundry, the food, the parenting, the Bible study time, and all the other adult obligations we have each day. By limiting our screen time, we make better use of the time God’s given us. We’ll have more time for our children and our spouses and the other people in our lives.
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
Am I suggesting we get rid of our phones or that our phones are evil? No. As I said earlier, I like my phone as much as the next person. But have you ever heard the expression “too much of a good thing?” These phones have become too important to us. When our internet connection went out for a week this past summer and I didn’t know what to do with myself, that should have been a wake up call for me. Anyway, I’m going to try to be a more present parent and in doing so, hopefully make the best use of the time I’ve been given. Moms and dads…who’s with me?