The Demise of the Modern Family

Yes, that blog title was a bit extreme I will admit. Maybe it was too much, but it points to a real issue that is causing bigger problems than we’re actually acknowledging. Marriages and families are having less than ideal experiences and one cause of many are the little screens we cary with us everywhere.

Twenty years ago, it was the TV. I remember seeing pro-family campaigns that talked about how TV is destroying the American family and I’m sure this sentiment hasn’t changed, but if they only knew how little of an impact TV has on society compared to the effect mobile technology is having on society. It’s time for families to have real conversations about how always on connectivity and media is impacting the home.

I’ll confess, I struggle with mobile and technological addictive behaviors. My default mode is to look at a screen as opposed to just sit and think, rest and enjoy a moment. I’m far more productive with technology than I ever was without it, but I realize that this does come with a cost. I’m not really calling for throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but I do feel that conversations need to be had.

This past March, I got a little dose of reality. I took two weeks off of work and I decided to do a social media fast. I disconnected my phone from my email, social media and just about ever other way I was connected while on a family vacation. I learned two things.

1. I’m addicted to that little phone. I still used the map app for driving and I found that during a meal or in the evening, I’d spend more time than necessary getting lost in the map app, looking at routes and exploring the area I was traveling through. I wasn’t tweeting or posting pics, but I found something else to do showing that it wasn’t just social media, but a need to be doing something all the time.

2. My wife didn’t do the social media fast. I’m glad because she was capturing the moments of our vacation and making a record of it. However, there were multiple occasions that I hated her phone. Multiple times I wanted to grab it and throw it out the window. I wanted to say, “Hey, I’m right here. Talk to me.” Then I got a does of my own medicine. Wow, this is what I’m like 90% of the time.

Just last week I came across this article on how our phones are impacting the relationships we’re having with our kids. It’s causing behavior issues since kids will often do what it takes to get our attention… especially when we’re sucked into our phones. The article goes on to explain that so many of our kids aren’t learning appropriate social cues because they’re not receiving the training that  comes when people are fully engaged around the house.

The time we have is limited. Are we sacrificing precious moments with our loved ones for the perfect picture post of our kids or catching up on the family events of that person we didn’t really like in high school?

Limitations are needed. Priorities need to be set. What does family time need to look like in your home? What does practicing digital solitude look like in our lives personally? It’s time for conversations like these before it’s too late.

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Kenny Conley
Kenny Conley is the primary author of Childrens Ministry Online and the NextGen Pastor at Gateway Church in Austin, TX. In addition to creating the Illuminate Conference, a high quality kidmin conference designed specifically for volunteers, Kenny is a published author and speaker.

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