I have, for a while now, been trying to form some sort of set of rules or boundaries for digital media use around the house. I read a book a few months ago entitled ‘Parenting Against the Tide’ by Anne Benton which gave some good suggestions. Listening to a sermon by Dr. David P. Murray called ‘Raising Children in a Digital Babylon’ brought it to mind again.
One of the points Dr. Murray emphasises in his talk is not checking your digital device before your daily devotion. Obviously this helps us get our priorities straight early in the day. This is therefore my first point to work on. In order to encourage daily Bible reading before checking my phone I have tried to leave my phone downstairs at night. Out of sight, out of mind. So far, apart from a couple of nights when I took it upstairs, this has generally discouraged me from checking it until after reading my Bible.
Secondly, one I’ve been trying hard to succeed at, is no digital devices at mealtimes. I really want to stick to this, however, I struggle sometimes when I’m waiting for Herby to finish eating at lunchtime. Once she can make some conversation, I think it’ll be a lot easier but for now I’ll try and use this time to learn something useful (currently on our blackboard is a list of Kings of Judah and Israel). I do have one exception to this rule at the moment and that is Skyping Herby’s Nanna which we often do while eating lunch.
One thing that I particularly found helpful from Dr. Murray’s talk was the idea of just leaving time when our minds are free to meditate on God’s word or to pray. I realised that I miss out on this a lot by popping my headphones in and filling the silence while I’m washing up or ironing. I don’t think this is wrong to do sometimes but I’d definitely like to cut down and leave more time to think and pray.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
A digital Sabbath has always seemed like a great discipline but has been slipping slowly over the years. Would I be able to turn off my phone for the day? Probably not as I do use it for listening to sermons if I stay in to put Herby to bed in the evening. Could I turn off data/WiFi instead? I’ll give it a try.
Finally, in an attempt to cut down on the amount of time I check my phone each day I have tried to turn off notifications as much as possible. I’ve been through the list of apps installed and blocked notifications from as many as possible. I’ve unsubscribed from a lot of emails that aren’t necessary. I’ve deleted the Facebook app but kept Messenger. I’ve also had a purge of pages and groups that I follow on Facebook, so that when I do venture onto it I’m not bombarded with a lot of unhelpful or useless posts to distract me and waste time. This last point does seem to be working so far.
- Did I check my digital device before my daily devotion?
- No digital devices at mealtimes.
- Am I leaving time to meditate or pray?
- Digital Sabbath.
- Turn off notifications as much as possible.
Another thing that Dr. Murray advocates in his talk is using more theology to combat more technology. He makes some simple theological remarks that if believed and taught should impact our use and our children’s use of digital media.
- God is omniscient. Not just in a judgemental way. God takes pleasure in us when we use His gifts well.
- God is judge. We should pray that He would help us to have better discernment when using digital media.
- God is Saviour. Guilt sometimes stops sin but it can also multiply sin. It puts distance between us and God and sin can become easier. However, there’s nothing more motivating to obedience than forgiveness.
- God is omnipotent. We cannot face this foe on our own but “if God is for us who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
Edit: David Murray’s resources for assisting digital detox can be found here… http://headhearthand.org/digital-detox-resources/