“I just like the music. I won’t repeat the words I heard in the movie. Those games are just fun. I would never do any of that stuff in real life!” You might have heard some of these statements from kids regarding their music, movies, or video games. Is there any truth mixed in with the emotions kids have for their media?
Could You Fast From It?
Generally, people feel invincible and untouchable by the influences around them; adolescents even MORE so. But the old computer principle of garbage in, garbage out applies to us all. In evaluating the effect media is having on your family, ask yourself the question, “How would our family handle no media for seven days?” No media. No screens. No computer, television, Wii or video games, iTouch, etc. for a whole WEEK! Our family tried it (almost). Living in the 21st century, working without the computer or smartphone was an impossibility because we have to work and communicate with others, but the adults limited their use strictly to work only. No social networking, no news or weather. It was TOUGH. The kids struggled, too. What that week did for our family, however, was reveal a dependence that had crept in, despite what we felt were vigilant standards.
Does It Cause You to Miss REAL Life?
If you notice that your children decline to play outside or you, yourself, are hooked to a fictitious set of characters, more than you are to real people in real life, it’s time to pull back! For me, this realization came during an intense TV show when I realized I was praying for the characters in the show. I had a snap moment of awareness, seeing myself from an outside perspective. With that view came the realization that I was investing myself in people, situations, and problems that don’t even exist! Within our church and community there are plenty of people who really DO have these types of problems and worse. They need my prayer and time. I asked the Lord that night to help me to let go of fictional storylines and to invest in and pray for real people and their very real situations. For my boys, it was seeing them turn down playing outside and doing whatever it took so they could go downstairs and play Wii. We can allow ourselves to MISS so much of what God has created and desires for us…
If you feel convicted to box up the Wii or call the cable company for a disconnect— do one thing first. Run it by your spouse. Aside from that, I wouldn’t try to stop you! A balanced approach may keep the peace a little better, however. Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Corral your own screen useage. If you are continually affixed to your screens, it will be pretty hard to convince the rest of the family.
- Pray for the ability to be present in real life. Ask the Lord to show you when you are choosing digital life over real people.
- Talk to the kids together and set up some guidelines for your family that reflect your values, set up some healthy boundaries, and keep screens to a minimum.
- Be consistent with the guidelines you set. View our family’s guidelines for a launching point.
- Replace the time previously spent with screens doing some fun things together- play a game, take a walk, head for the library, enjoy a hobby as a family. Help the family to have so much fun, that they don’t even miss it.