The other night while at a local restaurant, I noticed a family sitting at a table nearby. The dad was talking on his phone. The mom was checking messages on hers. Their teenage daughter was texting and their elementary-school-age child appeared to be playing a game. They were all on their phones. I am not judging this particular family because I have seen this scenario many times over again.
But, more and more it seems that this is becoming the new normal. Cyber “relationships” are taking the place of real relationships. Why? Is it the grass is greener syndrome? Is it because in cyber space, you can portray your best self, whereas in life people see the real you?
How many beach pictures, family Christmas pictures, face book posts, tweets, etc. have you seen that that actually portray the “perfect” life? It is easy to slip into thinking that others have it better– leaving many of us feeling like we don’t measure up.
Our children are not exempt from this either. Instagram, Snap Chat, Twitter and other social media sites and apps are constantly vying for their attention. And the messages they send are simple – get more, do more, and be more. Another pitfall is that we allow on-line relationships to take the place of those relationships right at our dinner table.
Every person has the need to feel love. We were created by a loving God who desires a relationship with us. He knew it wasn’t good that man was alone, so he created Eve.
Genesis 2:18 (NIV) says, The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Our children and our families need our attention. Our children need to know that they matter and are significant to us. Ask yourself how many times a day you are on your phone. When someone talks to you, do you focus on them and what they are communicating, or do you continue texting? Do you make eye contact, or do you continue answering questions while looking down at your phone screen?
The Bible says in Luke 12:34 (NIV) For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Never before has a generation of people been so connected and yet so disconnected from others. How can our loved ones, especially our children feel important if every time they talk to us, our attention is focused on are our phone?
Last of all we are created with a need for security. What breeds security? Eye-contact and attention provide security. Boundaries provide security. Knowing we are heard perpetuates security.
Proverbs 22:6 says, Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Instead of seeing only seeing the perfect pictures at sunset and wishing for more. Realize that life is full of sunburns and tired, crying children with sand in their eyes. Instead of seeing the perfect family, recognize that we all struggle. We all have off days, and broken pipes, illnesses and stressors. None of us have a perfect life. If we did, we wouldn’t need our savior.
So put down the phone, look your family in the eyes. Listen to your children and ask them to listen to you. And lastly, give them boundaries with their phones and social media remembering to keep healthy boundaries yourself.