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Does your phone, computer or tablet get in the way of your marriage and family? You know what I mean. You’re having a “conversation” with your wife and simultaneously checking email, a sports headline or Facebook. Or, you’re “playing” with your kids, but your eyes are glued to your phone and you’re mumbling and nodding where needed when they make a comment or ask a question.
Okay, maybe I’m the only one guilty of this, but I will have to admit that I do struggle with this. For the most part, it’s my iPhone and the incessant emails that come my way at all times of the day and night. I like to think that it’s okay to check it at all hours since it’s in the name of being successful at my job. And, my job is working at Focus, so that makes it even better, right? Wrong.
I still remember a short interaction with my son in the first year of working here. We were playing football, which involved him running out for passes and me throwing the ball his way. The nice thing about that set up is I could have the football in one hand and my phone in the other. I thought I was doing a nice job of multi-tasking until my son asked a simple question.
“Daddy, why are you always on your phone?” I immediately defended myself saying something about why I need to get some work done … and, I’m not really on it that much … and, blah blah blah. He was absolutely right. My whole family was taking a backseat to my phone, my emails, my phone calls, etc. Why wouldn’t he think I was always on my phone. Maybe because I was.
This got me to thinking about if I was the only husband/dad that struggled with this. So, I took a look at some of the research on both the use of social media and technology as well as its impact on marriages and families.
Did you know that nearly a quarter of Facebook users check their account 5 or more times daily and the average Twitter user has tweeted 307 times? 65% of tablet users surf the web while watching TV. The stats go on and on, but the point is that we are often consumed with social media and all of our digital outlets for entertainment and content. I’m not against using these things, but the problem comes when we get overly involved and consumed with any or all of this.
Being in marriage ministry, this is especially troubling as it inevitably leads to us being distracted which then makes us disconnected from our spouse. We have such little time to spend let alone making it quality time. And, to waste it on seemingly “important” emails, or seeing what everyone else is up to on Facebook, or what’s going on in the rest of the world, is not only unwise, but potentially destructive.
The research shows that Facebook and other social media not only drive a wedge between us, but they can definitely lead to emotional and even physical affairs, which then can potentially tear apart a marriage and family. So, the reality is, managing our time spent consumed with media and what we’re doing with the various social aspects of this really do matter.
So, how do you handle all of this? How do you make sure you’re not spending too much time on your phone, computer or tablet? How do you ensure that relationships built and maintained through social media or texting don’t go too far?
There are some practical things you can do like sharing passwords for Facebook and other sites. You can set aside some time during the week that is “media and phone free.” You can also regularly check in with your spouse and even your kids to get their thoughts on if they feel like they’re playing second fiddle to your phone or computer.
If you want more information and tips on how to make sure your media outlets are working for you and not against you, I’ll be doing a webinar for Net Nanny on Tuesday, July 30th at 12:00 Mountain time.
But, before then, we would love to hear tips how you do this in your marriage and family, or stories that might help the rest of us do this well.
Jackson Dunn (@FocusMarriage) is a contributor for Dad Matters and the Director of Marriage and Family Formation at Focus on the Family.
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