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Families go through a lot these days, from divorce to death, and there is a need now more than ever to connect. Rather than filling these connection needs with wholesome relationships, Forbes suggests that people have been using technology, specifically social media, to fill in the gaps where meaningful connection belongs (Rohampton, 2017). Further, Forbes cites social media as being a prime factor in jealousy, distrust, and lack of personal attention in relationships.
Fellowship is a mutual bond that Christians have with Christ that puts us in a deep, eternal relationship with one another (Piper, 2017). In our relationships with family and friends, there are several ways that we show our love to one another; through words of affirmation, through acts of service, through gifts, through quality time, and through physical touch (Chapman, 1992). While most people have their preference of how they like to show or receive love, it is important to use all of these methods when engaging with others. Physical touch is vitally important to humans (Moll, 2017). It is essential to every human being. As infants, our brains do not develop properly without it. Physical touch causes neurological chemicals to be released in our bodies that make us to feel good. It also releases neurological chemicals that fight stress.
You need not look far in the Bible to find moments of physical touch between friends and family. The Bible is full of examples of how we were created to engage each other. Jesus welcomed little children into his lap when His disciples discouraged parents from bringing their children to Him. He washed His disciple’s feet. He rubbed his fingers over the blind man’s eyes to heal him. Many of the people in the Bible embraced each other in hugs and greeted each other with kisses.
It’s impossible to engage with others in the way we were designed to, if we are constantly putting our attention on things that do not matter. Technology, while great to stay in touch with family and friends that live far away, does not provide what we need in human relationships. But it’s addicting, right? Sure, it is. However, the Lord equips us with the ability to avoid the temptation to get lost in technology at the expense of our family and friends. One of the Fruits of the Spirit, is self-control. Don’t be deceived. Self-Control is achievable when you allow God to be in control of your life.
So, what are some steps you can take to limit your technology use and repair the connection with your family and friends?
Here are 5 practical ways that you can take control of technology, so that technology does not control you:
1. Give up social media for Lent, or take a vacation from social media for a time period equal to lent.
Whether you are observe Lent or not, a period of fasting in your life can do things for you that you wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. The purpose is to give up something in exchange for focusing that time toward God. Think about how much time you spend on social media. Imagine if you spent that amount of time focused on the Lord, or even half that time with the Lord and the other half with your family. If you’re like me, that’s a lot of time. When I became convicted about the amount of time I spent on social media, I decided to give up social media during the season of Lent. It was like a detox for me. My priorities began shifting to what they should be. My life was happier. My family was happier. I had many moments of connection with my spouse and my kids that I would not have had otherwise.
2. Declare Sundays a Technology Free Day.
Sunday is the Sabbath. Many people choose not to work on Sunday. Some businesses believe that their businesses benefit greatly from closing on Sunday’s in obedience to the Lord. Sundays are an easy day to adopt as a tech-free day, because we already observe this day as a time of worship. Rather than coming home and everyone getting onto their devices, have lunch together, play a game together, spend time baking together, etc.
3. Make a “No Devices at the Dinner Table” Rule.
Dinner time is a great time to connect with your family. If you do not currently sit at the table with your family to eat, start making a habit of doing so at least once a week and then gradually work your way up to more. Research shows that sitting around the table together as a family and having quality interaction while eating dinner, is associated with lower risk of smoking, drinking, and using drugs; with a lower incidence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts; and better grades (Tarkan, 2005). If you find it difficult to know what to talk about at the table with your kids, you can start by asking each of them about their day or what their favorite thing about their day was. Other things we have done is: have each individual in the family say one thing they enjoy about each of the members of the family; having each individual share how they saw “God at work today;” select a character trait to talk about and why that trait is important to have (for example: honesty, integrity, obedience).
4. Set a Curfew for Devices.
In our home our teenagers have a curfew of 8:00pm for all devices. This helps them focus on their bedtime routine, getting ready for the next day, and spending time with each other.
5. Set Limits for Yourself and Your Family.
For a one-time fee, we purchased the Circle with Disney. This allows us to pause our house’s entire internet so that no one can access it or to pause individual devices from accessing the internet. It also allows us to set time limits on individual social media sites and other websites, restrict content that is inappropriate for our children, set a “bedtime” for any or all devices, and track the usage on each of the devices in our home. For a small monthly fee, you can do all of these things when the devices are outside of the home as well. Part of teaching self-control is providing boundaries for your children and modeling healthy boundaries as well.
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Spending quality time with family and friends is important for everyone. We are made to love God and others. God created us to “connect” with each other regularly. Technology robs our relationships of the genuine connection that we get when we sit face to face with each other, as well as the physical touch our bodies need in order to be healthy. Look at your cashier in the eye, shake hands with those you meet, share a hug and a smile with your friends and family, and for those who have a hard time with physical touch, give them a high five or a fist bump!
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
Piper, J. (2017, April 19). We Need Each Other: Christian Fellowship as a Means of Perseverance.
Retrieved January 18, 2018, from https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/we-need-each-other
Moll, R. (n.d.). The Spiritual Power of Physical Touch. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from http://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2014/october-online-only/rob-moll-spiritual-power-physical-touch.html
Chapman, G. D. (2015). The 5 love languages. Chicago: Northfield Pub.
Rohampton, J. (2017, May 3). Millennials, Here’s How Social Media Impacts Your Relationships. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/jimmyrohampton/2017/05/03/millennials-heres-how-social-media-impacts-your-relationships/amp/
Tarkan, L. (n.d.). Benefits of the Dinner Table Ritual. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from https://mobile.nytimes.com/2005/05/03/health/nutrition/benefits-of-the-dinner-table-ritual.html?referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F