Her face was flushed, and her nostrils flared as my wife asked, “Are you even listening to me?” My mind raced as I searched for the right answer. My phone had buzzed with an update to the hockey score, and I had reacted to that notification. My attention had drifted from the conversation I had been having with my wife to the phone screen on the counter. I knew I was in trouble and had no idea what to say next.
We naturally worry about how much time kids spend on their screens. We might even stress about our wives and their devices. But sometimes, we are the ones who spend too much time scrolling through our phones, working on our computers, or watching sports on TV. We can miss conversations, experiences, and precious moments meant to be shared with our families. If you think you might be spending too much time looking down, here are 5 strategies to deal with your own screen addiction.
1. Count, compare, and commit.
Spend a week tracking the time you spend in front of all your screens (your phone, TV, and personal computer). Track also the amount of time you spend with your family. Compare the results. Commit to ensuring your family gets their fair share of your time.
2. Take advantage of the built-in tools.
Most phones now have built-in parental controls to help us limit the time our kids spend on their devices. You can also use these controls yourself. Activate the parental controls in Screen Time (iPhone) or Digital Well-Being (Android) to set the limits you want to have for your phone. If you really want to level up, have your wife or a close friend set the password without telling you what it is, allowing you to have definitive limits on the time you spend scrolling and surfing.
3. Disable notifications.
The constant buzzing from our phones is designed to draw our attention back to the screen again and again. It cultivates screen addiction. Every time a notification comes in, we want to see who’s trying to get ahold of us, who liked our recent post, or what happened with our favorite sports team. You can fight these distractions by disabling notifications either on specific apps or by placing your phone in “do not disturb” mode, allowing you to decide when and where you check notifications.
4. Shut it off.
Choose certain moments in your day to be screen-free. These might include family mealtimes, the hour before your kids go to bed, or all day on Sunday. During these times, put the phone down, turn the TV off, and stay away from the computer. When you shut your devices off and turn your undivided attention to your family, you might find it easier to pay attention to the things that really matter.If technology is becoming a barrier to our relationships, we need to do the heroic thing and cut the cord.
5. Make a heroic sacrifice.
Jesus says that if something in our lives causes us to sin, we should cut it out. If technology is becoming a barrier to our relationships with our family, we need to do the heroic thing and cut the cord (literally for cable or proverbially for Netflix), quit that social media platform, or toss the phone entirely. If we absolutely need a phone, consider moving to a “dumb” phone instead of a smart one.
Sound off: What are other strategies to fight your own screen addiction?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What do you love to do that doesn’t include a screen?”