By Lori Boyd
Isn’t it true that sometimes situations look differently when you are observing them as opposed to being caught up in the middle of them? When that happens, it can result in a sudden realization, or an “A-ha!” moment, if you will. Mine came a few weeks ago at the Outback Steakhouse.
Our family had gone out to eat together and after giving our name to the hostess, we sat down in the crowded lobby to wait for our little black box to come alive. I noticed another family of five sitting side by side on the bench across from us. I cannot recall anything specific about their facial features, but I can describe in detail the tops of their heads as each one stared down at a glowing electronic device held in their hands. In the time we spent waiting for our table, I never once saw them speak to each other.
This bothered me. It still bothers me. No laughing about the funny thing that Brother did earlier, no recounting of what happened to Sister at school, no brainstorming plans for the next family trip, not even a firm “keep your hands to yourself” reprimand, or a quiet “keep your voice down” reminder. Not a thing. Just each person, head down, in his or her own virtual world.
As I replayed that image in my mind over the next few days, I kept coming up with the same troubling conclusion–the devil must have been pleased. Don’t get me wrong; I think technology is wonderful: It can be fun, it can inspire learning, and it can afford us unique opportunities and help us to accomplish great works! However, like so many other “good” things, the devil will pervert it and use it in such a way that can bring about harm or even destruction, if we are not careful. He is all around us, using technology in many various forms, to gradually erode the lines of communication within a family and to continually interfere with precious opportunities for strengthening the family bond.
Texting is a wonderfully convenient way to send a message, Facebook can reunite old friends or keep you in touch with family members, and a DSiXL can be very handy when your children have to wait on you at the hair salon; but we have to know when to “turn off” and “look up.” I don’t want my children to see the top of my head more than they see my face! I also don’t want them to be so saturated with nonverbal, electronic activity that they forget, or maybe never even learn, how to cultivate and nurture a personal relationship. Charles Dickens, the famous English writer, once said, “Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.”
I was talking to my older sister about this the other day and she told me about a new policy that her family has instituted at their house: something they refer to as “no media” days. Every Tuesday and Thursday all forms of media, including television, movies, computers, iPhones, iPads, iPods, and video games, are off limits at their house. She said her boys initially thought that the world would come to an end, but it didn’t take long for them to find other activities to do on those days and it gave them all a renewed focus on “family time.” I loved the idea and talked to my husband about starting this same practice at our house. (Although my sister made me promise not to tell my children that we got the idea from their Aunt Jenny).
God designed families for a divine purpose, and throughout His Word He provides instruction on how family members should function in their respective roles. In order to provide training and discipline for their children (Ephesians 6:4), parents need to keep their “heads up.” For children to honor and obey their parents (Ephesians 6:1-2), they need to keep their “heads up.” As Christian families, we need to know when to set our gadgets down and take the time to look at each other, talk to each other, and listen to each other.
I remember a time when Kate was five years old and she brought me a picture she had drawn during Bible Class. It had a big red heart on it and at the top of the page she had written the words: “Wii LOVE GOD.” Looking back now, that probably should have been one of those “A-ha!” moments I mentioned earlier. Heads up…it’s never too late!
Heads Up, Families!
By Lori Boyd