On Smartphones, It’s About You

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Controversies are not uncommon to Facebook. This is why I usually don’t pay too much attention to them. But a friend made me notice the school teacher who posted what some of her students told her on a school assignment, and it is so sad it is worth noting. Did you see it?

The teacher posted that several students told her they wished the phone was never invented because their parents were always on them. The story was noted by USA Today, which quoted one response agreeing with it saying, “I don’t like the phone because my [parents] are on their phone every day … I hate my mom’s phone and I wish she never had one.”

The story noted how the topic of smartphone use has been mostly aimed at children and teens, and appropriately so, but this incident points to concerns with adult use. Several studies have shown that the more time children spend online, the less happy they are with their lives in several areas.  But the truth is that this is not only about what they see online, but about the interactions and experiences they are losing in the real world by spending so much time in the virtual world.

The more time a child spends online at home, the less time he spends interacting with siblings or his or her parents. This works both ways, though.  The more time a parent spends online, the less time he spends investing in the crucial personal relationships at home.

So, on the use of smartphones at home, it’s about you, whatever your age.  Parent, grandparent, child, brother, sister, whoever you are. Sure, parents should limit their children’s time online, but they must also limit their own.

The interesting thing is that, once we spend some time thinking about this issue, we realize that it is not such a new issue after all.  It is still about quality time with each other — the age-old problem that has plagued parents from time immemorial. The only thing that has changed is where we are spending the time. Parents use to take time away from their children by working too much or playing golf all the time. Now they spend it on social media. Still, it is about time, in many ways.

The new danger, I see, is that you are “there” in the case of the new smartphone problem.  But, of course, if you are “there” with someone on your phone, you are not really “there.” I think we all can understand that.  There is no question we must be proactive on this for our children and for ourselves. I think most people would agree. How to do that is a bit more complicated, but I tend to think that as long as you are aware of the potential risk and you are doing something, even if it is something that doesn’t work, you are working at it, and it will be a net positive for you. We will find the right approach for our family if we are intentional about it.

But why are we discussing this here at Concerned Women for America? Well, I hope you see that the answer to many of the public policy problems that ail us are rooted in the weakening of the family structure. I’ve written to you about it in many contexts.

The family unit was God’s invention (Genesis 2:24). One man, one woman having children for life. This beautiful cycle where a man “leave[s] his father and mother and hold[s] fast to his wife, and the two … become one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31) is powerful and life-giving; it is the key to a free and fruitful society. It is no surprise to any of us that the enemy seeks to destroy it with everything it has.

So, let’s not let the smartphones outsmart us. Let us use it, and not the other way around. It is an incredible tool, when used in moderation, giving priority to those things that are truly valuable. God and family should always be at the top.

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