Our televisions are so much more than “TV’s”. They are now called “Smart TV’s”. They allow us to watch our favorite programs offered by our satellite or cable provider. Additionally, we can surf the web, stream YouTube videos, watch programs from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and more.
Our houses are automated. With a small device, or your smartphone, you can unlock your doors, turn on your lights, watch a live feed of who comes and goes, and adjust the temperature of your thermostat.
The cars we drive are getting “smarter” every year. Our automobiles are lighter, faster, and more luxurious than they have ever been. Some cars can park themselves, will correct you if you’re about to bump the car in front of you, and warn you when you’re crossing the center line. In our cars we can watch movies, stream satellite radio, talk on the phone, and use them as a mobile wifi station.
Technology is all around us, and limiting its use is becoming increasingly difficult. It used to be that for parents to control their children’s use of technology (sometimes called “screen time”) it was just a matter of turning off the television. Now, with the advent of all these other media devices, “screen time” has taken on an entirely different meaning. According to Sanders, Parent, Forehand, and Breslend (2016), “Total daily screen time, the summed exposure to devices capable of displaying video content (e.g., smartphones, tablets, computers, televisions, and video game consoles) for children 8- to 18-years-old, has risen from 5 to 7.5 hr since 1999, far exceeding the recommendation of 2 hr or less by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)…” (para. 2).
When we think about the most influential forces on our families, we can no longer consider those to be just parents, educators, and peers. Likewise, those influences are not just movies, television, and the radio. “Cell phones, iPhones and BlackBerrys, e-mail, instant messaging, twittering, and texting, which are an integral part of the [Facebook] generation’s lives, shape everyday attitudes, values, and relationships in fundamental ways” (“How technology changes everything (and nothing) in psychology,” 2009). My how times have changed over the last decade and a half.
There is no way to escape, at least totally, the technological age that we are in. In my view, we should not even try. Instead, we should embrace the blessings of technology and avoid the blatant evil uses of technology. Additionally, we must unplug—to take a mini-vacation from our devices.
Sometimes, we need to unplug so that we can plugin to people’s hearts and lives. When we spend more time on Facebook than we do visiting face to face (perhaps even living under the same roof--husband/wife and parents/children), there's a problem. When we only communicate through texting instead of talking, there's a problem. When dinners are spent surfing the web on our smartphones instead of savoring every family moment, then there's a problem.
The Bible says, "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Heb. 13:16). The word "communicate" here is koinonias and is the same translated "fellowship." How interesting. The concept of good deeds, is connected to communication, and the idea of fellowship.
Don’t let technology hijack your brain, your family, your faith, and your life.
How technology changes everything (and nothing) in psychology: 2008 annual report of the APA Policy and Planning Board. (2009). American Psychologist, 64(5), 454-463. doi:10.1037/a0015888
Sanders, W., Parent, J., Forehand, R., & Breslend, N. L. (2016). The Roles of General and Technology-Related Parenting in Managing Youth Screen Time. Journal Of Family Psychology, doi:10.1037/fam0000175