In a technology saturated society, how have you found balance as a family?
Mark: We have taken a very conservative view. We are a homeschool family, so traditional pressures aren’t as strong for us. But I can’t say we’ve landed well on this subject. This is something that I feel like my wife and I have been chasing balance in from the beginning.
Tonya: I’m with you on that, Mark. As homeschoolers we were able to stay away from it longer than others. Our kids didn’t get any phone, let alone smart phones until mid-teen years. However, my husband is an IT director, so technology is all over our house in many forms. Finding a healthy level of balance and accountability has been a challenge. I was stricter than my husband, with wanting more protection put in place – time limits, software that prevented viewing certain sites, accountability on how they used it, etc. My husband did put a filter on our internet at home which keeps anyone connected to it from going to certain sites or conducting certain searches. He also had talks one-on-one at times with the boys about using wisdom around the technology, discussing some of the pitfalls. We set limits at the dinner table for all of us; phones off and preferably stored away from the table. My husband felt strongly that this technology was a part of our world now and so it was important to teach them how to use it properly. He wanted our boys to realize whatever they put out there through twitter, text messages, snap chat, etc. is forever out of their control.
Mark: That’s such a hard concept for teenagers to understand. They are in the prime of life, enjoying these freedoms and social interactions. Understanding one little discretion is out there forever with implications in hiring decisions and choices down the road. Like we’ve seen dug up for political purposes. This has been a challenge for us, for sure.
Tonya: Absolutely! And also teaching them that a relationship by text message is not really a relationship. It’s a fantasy world and we can all be whoever we want to be. Until you meet somebody face to face and spend real time with them, you don’t really know them.
Mark: That’s another component of the technology piece; not losing the face to face interaction and real depth of relationship. Nothing replaces face to face whether that is a romantic relationship or with an authority figure. Teaching them to make eye contact and shake hands, basic skills of manners. There’s been that balance of accepting and embracing technology while navigating how to manage the consequences of what it brings.
Tonya: I’m curious, John, how this works for you as a single person. How easy is it to flip into not having the face to face?
John: Oh, that’s very easy. And the younger generation needs awareness of how easy it is because it’s all they know. They need guidance from older people who that’s not all they know. One thing coming to my mind on this topic is input and output. As a single person, at times I find myself needing to check the quantity and quality of my intake. I remember dealing with this when the sitcom Will & Grace first came on. I thought the writing was really good, but the more I watched it the more I realized the intake was not healthy. It may be funny, but it’s laying the foundation for something that does not match my values. So I had a little self-conversation, “Yeah, you like this show, but you’re not going to watch this anymore.” A single person either has to develop those self-disciplines or have someone else speaking into their lives challenging their input. There have been seasons in my home where I have purposefully taken a fast for a lengthy time from the Internet or TV to do some corrective action but also to just unplug, create an exercise to test my balance on what I’m bringing in and how it plays into what I give off.
Tonya: I remember a pastor challenging us several years ago to take a fast from TV for a few weeks and see what happens when we resumed watching. He was making the point of how quickly we become desensitized by the things we take in over and over. When you resume your intake after you’ve re-sensitized your spirit, you might be shocked by what you were allowing in.We were very big on what you put in matters. I always told my boys, “I’m not going to tell you what kind of music you can listen to. But if you cannot talk to the Lord in the middle of your song, something’s not right with the song.”
John: Another viewpoint for singles is the trap of escapism. You can find yourself deep in a hole using these venues to escape something. If you can get ahold of that awareness, there’s where you’re going to find balance. Getting that awareness of why you do what you do when you’re at home is a big deal. Ask yourself, “Why am I watching what I’m watching?”
Next we will discuss the gift of balance in a marriage and singleness! Do our values show?
John Gregory – pastor, coach, writer and musician – https://johngregoryjr.com/
Mark Stanifer – life coach, 20 yrs experience in corporate America, husband, father – https://dare2livecoaching.com/
Tonya Waechter – leadership coach, 22+ years therapy experience, wife, mother – www.tonyawaechter.com
The Digital Invasion: How Technology is Shaping You and Your Relationships by Archibald Hart & Sylvia Hart Frejd