Disconnecting to Connect: Nurturing Authentic Relationships by Limiting Media Distractions

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I’m old enough to remember (fondly) a more simple time when cell phones were non-existent, computers were scarce, and television had but four or five channels. I’m young enough to be immersed in a culture that has fully embraced the convenience of being constantly connected to the world outside their homes.

It’s this ever-present connection that threatens to disconnect us from the people we love and the work we are called to do as keepers of our homes. It’s the trivial distractions that come with these modern conveniences that alter our perspective and our vision.

We’ve let it seep into our daily lives slowly. Screens. Everywhere. What started out as a tool, a modern convenience, has grown into a distraction that can have a big impact on our lives. It can erode the relationships with our families and others close to us.

I recently watched the documentary Captivated. I was saddened with what I saw, but I was pleased to see so many of my own fears and concerns brought to light in this informative and eye-opening film. Modern technology offers many benefits, and I’m grateful to live in such a day, but these conveniences can also be crippling. And I fear we are sometimes missing out on so much because of it.

As mothers, we have access to a world of resources and sources of encouragement at our fingertips. We can connect to friends and family half a world away practically anytime we wish. We can glean wisdom from older women who’ve been where we are and yearn to reach out to us now. I’ve been blessed beyond measure by relationships with godly women who encourage me from afar. At the click of a mouse, we can search for information on anything from homsechooling resources to reviews for home appliances. We can find ideas on home organization and tips on cleaning or gardening. The list is endless.

But with this must come discernment. If we don’t use these modern advancements as the tools they are, they have the power to distract us from life.

What can we do to guard against these distractions?

Establish guidelines for media content. If we have established guidelines for the types of music we listen to, TV we watch (if any), and internet sites we visit, we can be protected by boundaries.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there isany virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” ~Philippians 4:8

This is a great verse to use as a guide for determining what we should surround ourselves and fill our minds with. Much of what we find in books and on all these screens that surround us is not only fruitless but harmful. We have limited time and much to spend it on, so we are wise to be selective with it.

Be strategic about where to keep the television, computer, and phone. If having a TV or computer in the main room is a distraction, it would be wise to move it. If they draw our attention from the relationships in our lives, we must move them or remove them. Bedrooms should be free from ALL media at ALL times, even and especially cell phones. Bedrooms should be a serene place of refuge and rest. The only outlet to the world outside should be a window!

Schedule into our days time for internet, television, and phone calls. It can be easy to loose track of time while browsing the web. Taking a phone call at any given moment can steal far more than a few minutes of our daily routine. Being at home with our children allows us to take a phone call whenever we wish, and that may be desirable and necessary at times. But if we keep our phones on us or take calls indiscriminately, are we prioritizing our families above everything else, even that which may seem legitimate? If we schedule time for making and returning phone calls as well as internet usage and TV (if any), we will most likely be better stewards of our time.

Leave the cell phone at home (sometimes). Many of us have cell phones and many of us tend to take them with us when we leave the home. This is a great convenience and measure of safety when driving long distances, but if we’re leaving the house to walk to the park or drive a few miles away, is it really necessary that we take the phone? It is rare that we’ll actually need to take a call while walking around the block with our children or playing at the park.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen moms sitting on park benches talking or texting away while their children play off in the distance. When their children try to gain their attention or need their help, they simply nod and “promise” to be right there, not even taking a moment to look away from their phones. In times past, mothers would find friendship and fellowship with other mothers at the park, engaging in real conversation that kept them present for their children. Today, we can be “with” our children physically while our thoughts and our attention is half a world away. If we choose to leave our phone at home, we are free to live in the moment with the people that matter most.

Be diligent about guarding our children from the trappings of media. It is our responsibility to monitor, restrict, filter, and limit our children’s access to TV, internet, music, and the phone. Internet and television access should be in a central location and never in a child’s room. Internet filters are a must for any child with internet access. Time limits for the internet and TV are essential for keeping these distractions under control and making sure they’re used as helpful tools and not abused.

We need to think hard about letting older children have cell phones. After deciding to let our older children have a phone, mainly to be able to contact us since we no longer have a land line, we realized the downfalls that come with this and quickly set up safeguards. We have to pay a little more, but we can limit their phone usage, including restricted hours and limits to calls and messages. We’re still a little uneasy with the idea of them having a phone to begin with. And of course, internet usage on a child’s phone is completely out of the question for us!

By taking steps to limit and monitor our access to media, it is easier to avoid the traps. By immersing ourselves in the Word of God and asking the Lord to help us conquer any trouble spots we may have, we can find true peace and contentment instead of seeking to fill a void with something shallow and never-quenching.

 

 

I want to encourage everyone to see the film Captivated and am pleased that my friend Jennifer from Family Vision Films is graciously offering a 20% discount! Just enter the code “captivated20″ at checkout to receive 20% off. (Disclosure: The above link is my affiliate link. As always, I stand behind all products I am affiliated with.)

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