I remember looking at my cell phone on a Sunday morning and thinking, “How can this be true?” I set up my iPhone to compile a weekly report of my screen time as a way to take stock of how much time I spent using certain apps. What I saw was troubling. I was spending hours each week on Twitter. Doing what?
I was scrolling the news, watching hockey videos, and liking articles about basketball shoes. I could have been spending time with my kids, but I turned to social media to fight boredom. Twitter had become a vice, so, fully embarrassed, I deleted the app. Pretending we don’t have bad vices is silly. We all do, even if we don’t recognize them. Here are 6 bad vices dads should ditch.
1. Fast Food
Fast food is cheap, convenient, and saves time. No wonder so many people eat it every day. Americans opt for fast food one to three times per week on average according to TheBarbecueLab.com. But it’s bad for overall health. Just living near a fast food restaurant is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity. Dads should model healthy living for their children. You can’t engage with them when you’re sick all the time. For the sake of your health, skip the drive-thru. It’s one of the truly bad vices.
If enjoyed in moderation, alcohol isn’t necessarily evil. But, when you have too much booze, it can become a soul-sucking vice. Men are twice as likely as women to binge drink, according to the CDC. Turning to alcohol to deal with stress can negatively impact your family by impairing your judgment and altering your mood. Your kids need an attentive dad who isn’t dependent on alcohol to loosen up, relax, or have a good time. Find an outlet for frustration other than the bottle. Your kids will thank you.
Research conducted by Covenant Eyes shows that one in five mobile web searches is for pornography. But using it is like injecting poison into your soul. Porn rewires your thinking, sending a flood of hormones to the memory receptors in the brain, preaching the lie that the images on the screen are what sexual satisfaction looks like. Once you tiptoe through that door, it’s hard to back out. You’ll get incrementally sucked further into porn, like quicksand, until you eventually become desensitized to the images themselves and dissatisfied with your real sex life and your wife. Your newly rewired mind will demand more explicit and graphic material with each viewing in an attempt to satiate an insatiable appetite. All of this is a disaster for marriages. Cut out the porn, guys. This bad vice doesn’t satisfy.Don’t become so beholden to your emotions that you can’t let things go.
4. Cable News
Cable news is a playground for well-dressed adults to yell at and about other well-dressed adults, and it causes division. It’s (usually) a dish of inflammatory, sensational, bombastic commentary. Constantly ingesting its pretentious babble will drag you down. It frames others as villains and puts you on edge around everyone. That changes you as a person, which hurts your family. Your wife and kids need a leader focused on his role as a nurturer and provider, not someone who gets sucked into combative content on TV. There are far less polarizing ways to get information. Dump cable news.
There are times when getting angry is a good thing, like showing righteous anger when someone has been wronged. But anger that leads to resentment and bitterness is one of the bad vices men should unclasp. Living in perpetual anger shows your kids you prioritize your own preferences over progress. They will see you can’t get past disappointments, and it teaches them they shouldn’t either. Don’t become so beholden to your emotions that you can’t let things go. Getting perpetually angry often doesn’t solve your problems—it only exacerbates them.
6. Social Media Apps
A buddy once told me, “Twitter is my drug of choice.” I chuckled, then thought about it more deeply. We think of drugs as addictive and terrible, but rarely see social media that way. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok are all cut from the same cloth. These social media apps have a habit of baiting users into divisive banter. They will suck up your time, too. It’s easy to spend 45 minutes staring at YouTube when you only meant to watch one video. That is time you could spend with your kids, coloring, doing a puzzle, or talking. Step away from social media and hang out with your family.
Sound off: What other bad vices do dads need to ditch?
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are your top three favorite foods?”