“This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.” 1 John 3:16-17 MSG
When we are faced with the potential to be used as a means of change, we hold a lot of power in our hands. It’s still beyond me why God would let us, the broken of the broken, be such a force for good. But this is exactly what He wants from us: use our power to be a force for good.
Friends, we have become a society addicted to phones and devices. But perhaps the term “society” sounds too broad to comprehend or personalize, so let’s narrow it down. Your family – your friends – your children – are addicted to their phones and devices. Most frightening is the fact that children, from teens to toddlers, are learning physical, mental, and emotional dependence to touch screen.
For a long time my motto had been ‘ignorance is bliss.’ It seemed so fitting considering the movie that made this quote famous was all about believing the life I’m living is all there is. Everyone claims, “this is just the way it is nowadays.” Well, if you’re reading this, neither you nor I can claim ignorance to this situation anymore. It is ubiquitous across the world: smart phones and devices have us in bondage.
The great news is, believe it or not, we have power to BE THE CHANGE.
Imagine God is giving us choice hands. This is the tried and true technique of moms of littles. Kids are visual and tactile, so, when we offer our children two options, we show them choice hands. One hand gets extended to represent one choice, and the other hand extends to offer an alternative choice. A lot of times these choices are responsibility and character developing options like “clean up the mess you made” or “go to bed early” or even “give the toy back you stole from her” or “take a 5 minute time out.” For some reason seeing the choices laid out before them halts the meltdowns, eases the tense situation into a positive transition, and speaks to them on their level.
God is holding out choice hands.
One hand extends allowing us to ignore what we see around us, what we know in our head and feel in our soul. We can continue on tapping away on our devices, searching for satisfaction and distraction. With this choice, the potential for God’s love to be illuminated disappears.
The alternative choice hand extends and invites us to be the change for good. We can change our own phone/media behaviors, seek counsel and wisdom, and help children who are in bondage to validation and instant gratification through phones and media. This choice radiates the love of Christ to those in need.
This may sound trite, but ultimately these choice hands are forever extended to us. We constantly have the choice to either ALLOW GOD TO USE US or to go our own way.
In a recent Common Sense Media poll they found….
66% of parents felt like their teen spent too much time on their phone…
52% of teens AGREED
Almost 7 out of every 10 parents know in their souls that smart phones are a problem with their kids. 7 out of 10 of YOU KNOW it’s too much time. YOU KNOW it can’t possibly be healthy for them.
What will you choose to do about it? Will you ‘be out for yourself’ as 1 John says, or will you ‘do something to help a brother or sister in need’?
Since a lot of us who are now parents grew up without a cellphone, much less a smart phone, it’s hard for us to imagine battling hormones and technology together.
We do know, however, what it’s like to sit at a cafeteria table and actually talk our friends. When we were young, we knew our friend’s parents because they answered the home phone every time we called, making us equally accountable to them as we were our own parents. Most importantly, in our youth we experienced the invisible boundaries of disconnection and the benefits of delayed gratification.
These norms are no longer relative. In order for us to use our power as a force for good, we are going to have to step into their world. To save the 52% of our teens (and an unknown amount of our younger children) who know they are in bondage, we must take our knowledge of the past with us into their lives. The lessons we learned and knowledge we gained are still valuable today.
This knowledge is our wisdom. Our wisdom is the power we have to be a force for good.
Right now, you might not feel equipped or even led to help be a part of change. But if you have a child of any age, think about his or her future. Visualize who you wish them to be, the spouse they will have, the career they will lead. What character strengths do you wish for them? Ask yourself, “How are phones/media building this character? How might they be hindering this character?” Now: what changes do you need to make?
As I visualize this, I cannot help but wonder if my daughter’s future mother-in -law is reading this. If she is, here is my heart:
I want the best things for your son. I want him to know the peace-filled life that exists outside of a phone and the addiction attached to it. I cherish my daughter and want him to cherish her even more; more than a device and more than pornography. Furthermore, I want you, future mother-in-law, to feel empowered knowing God has called you to raise him with integrity and character. The knowledge and wisdom you hold in life is exactly what your son needs. Teach him! These are the life lessons he’ll never find on YouTube, Pornhub, or Vine.
We can’t sit by and let our children be sucked into something they don’t know how to escape from. Many of us parents are the last generation to have grown up without a phone. Many of us had the internet, but I venture a guess we didn’t experience pornography, distraction, and social bullying on such a high scale like teenagers do today. Our faces were not in a screen for nine or more hours (national average) a day. We knew boundaries such as when it was appropriate to call a friend’s house phone. We understood how to speak respectfully to peers and adults and even how to communicate through handwritten letters. There are so many things we know from 20 years ago which we can share with our children.
It’s time to bring back the lessons not taught on a computer, phone, or tablet. Face to face, voice to voice, with the human connection we were created for! It’s time to rise up and awaken those around us worshiping screens. Let us not be the believers who turn a cold shoulder and allows God’s love to disappear. We can be the change!
If you’re ready to choose to BE THE CHANGE, here are 3 things you can do:
Read these articles and any other news stories about phones, media, and kids. In order to help, we need to know what is going on. As much as we don’t want to know all this – we need to know it.
It is widely acknowledged we have yet to learn the extent of psychological and scientifically proven damage we are experiencing with smart phones. Trust your heart, spirit, and gut instinct. Does this feel right to you?? Is what you are reading and learning unsettling? Is it breeding a spirit of change?
Talk to your spouse. Share these articles and your heart. Brave Parenting is most effective when both parents are on the same page. How can you be better role models of phone/media use for your children? Do you agree with one another? Where can you find common ground?
It is a big undertaking to swim against the current, and you need each other. Most importantly, your children need both of you to be firm in your decisions and lessons.
If you want to Be The Change but want others to bravely walk with you, invite Brave Parenting to your church, school, or group gathering. Allow us to rally your tribe, community, or organization to choose the hand of CHANGE. Our sole purpose is to come alongside you, support you, and motivate change to happen.