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Family Time vs. Screen Time

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
November 1, 2021 2:00 am

Family Time vs. Screen Time

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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November 1, 2021 2:00 am

Do you feel like the screens in your home are competing with you for your family's attention? David Murrow discusses why it's so common and what can be done to help.

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Family Policy Matters
NC Family Policy
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
Family Life Today
Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

So our granddaughter Ali is six years old, made an interesting comment to you the last time we were with them.

I did like this, is that I don't even think it's true.

Tell our listeners what she said to you. Welcome to family life today where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most and will send it on Dave Wilson and you can find or on our family life.

This is family life today. She secures all the cutest little girl in the universe course is my granddaughter but I don't know what was going on she just turns over and looks at me and says Poppy are always on your phone, and my wife is laughing because you can laugh at you telling me this for you. I would say months, but it's been years and years and years like fruit. I completed I go through evidence of why this isn't true. And so, with no prompting from me are granddaughter said that, which depend on God moment by honestly, when she said it, I thought somebody's proctor but you know what that was a six-year-old innocent comment colonization absolutely true right yeah I hate to admit it because I put it away for the rest of our trip. You know with our grandkids, but all I know is this dad comment is sort of defining of our culture that I think and so today we get to talk about screen time. We've got David Merle with us who was authored a book on that. But David, welcome to family life today. It's good to be with both yeah really glad to have you back.

It's been 11 years.

You said since you been out for my life.

Today I came to talk about my previous book, which is called why men hate going to church. I was a subject that was near and dear to the hearts of Dennis Rainey. He was definitely focused on ministering to men. And so this newer book is focused on screen time because my day job is television producer and writer and so I kinda know the insider story of the tricks that those of us who are in the screen addiction business use to get you hooked on watching screen content while I know this is going to get you a great and I gotta tell you I got a Father's Day gift from my wife. Probably 15 years ago called why men hate church or book will thank you.

I was in the bookstore and I saw the title of your book and I thought this is exactly what Dave wants to know when you opened up that package you are super excited that we started a church in 1990 to reach unchurched men. It was specifically men and so I devoured your book I was underlining it I was quoting it I mean it was a powerful powerful read.

I'm hoping you are still reading. Yes, I hear from people all the time in the most exciting thing is that seminaries are using it to train pastors in the arm reaching men. It's always harder to reach the Mandela when you get the man usually get the family and the deal yeah so it's definitely worth the extra effort to reach out to guys yes so that's why we targeted men for our church. Not that we didn't care about women enjoy class we did but it was like just what you said, if you can reach the guy who can make an impact.

Let me ask you guys. The smart phone has really shaped man it's shaped families. It's almost it's if it's become omnipresent.

It's with us wherever we go over. People are constantly looking at it locked into it and that's shaped our culture. It has you know all of human history.

Visual novelty has been rare.

We lived in a monotonous world where we eat the same foods wear the same clothes see the same people all the time. And every once in a while there be something unusual, it would happen. A wolf would jump out in front of you or up in a lion would attack your village or something like that. But most of your life was lived with monotony novelty was rare. Now with the carrying of smart phones around for the first time we can summon visual novelty.

Anytime we want. We no longer need to be bored.

We note, we don't need to learn to live in a world that's monotonous.

We can basically summon the wolf anytime we want. And the producers of media content know this. They know our brains are attuned to novelty and to threats and so if you tune into any cable news show. It's going to be how the world is quickly coming to an end.

From this or that this threat of that threat or if you get onto the Internet. You do scroll the Internet.

It's just this constant noise of all these horrible things that are happening. So this novelty is being misused by the producers of of media to keep us clicking, swiping, watching, and it's completely changing the interactive, dynamic, because we no longer know how to live in a world is not constantly stimulating hot so truly so true for our family. So yeah, I mean you know you're you're describing my life probably millions of others you know you click and you stay in you click it in me to title your yearbook is drowning in screen time so it isn't just that were sort of a little click here narrowed, there is a epidemic in a sense right with with screen time are defined drowning. How are we drowning in springtime. While I wrote the book with several parables at the beginning to the first parable of the story. I called Max on the sea. This is a guy was never seen the ocean before and so he decides to wade into the ocean and he goes deeper and deeper and deeper know that's parallel to what screens have done, you know, in 1920. There was no screen time of the go to movies and then televisions came into our home and then screen time became interactive with the computers we just got deeper and deeper and deeper into screen time when he gets out into the deep waters he encounters jellyfish and they start to sting him and jellyfish represents unhealthful screen content that would be everything from pornography to nudity to violence and unclean language. The things that Christians of been talking about for a long time. We really been alone in the culture and calling these things out. Christians are very good at identifying the jellyfish. What were not good at identifying is the depth of the water.

That's the other threat we can consume so-called wholesome content Facebook social media or whatever if were looking at it. 8 to 9 hours a day, which is the average for an American that depth of the water that's the drowning aspect. It's displacing other things that we used to do when we weren't looking at her saying see SF second 8 to 9 hours a day is average. There was a study done to my Nielsen media research, which is the gold standard in media in 2018. This is prior to the pandemic and they found that the average North American spends about nine hours of their free time every day looking at screen content wall. That's not counting the time for work or education for school so and that's happened just in the last 20 years, you know, back when it was just a TV on the wall we watched, you know, for five hours a day, but now because we can access screen content any time as you said with with smart phones.

Yeah, we feel in those little moments that we used to devote to just thought or prayer for others or planning our day we get those things over to Fox News C and hand Facebook words with friends in a whatever we do on our phone. It's absorbing those moments where our brains rest where we contemplate and meditate on the goodness of God and instead we replace it with these things that keep our our brain hyper stimulated and put us in fight or flight mode and it's like him.

Our brains are like muscles never rest and it's causing a lot of stress and anxiety so we can identify like you said the jellyfish we can meet. Hopefully we can wean him to danger, but sinful downtown depth of the water is the screen time that we just are the number of our time. The amount of time were devoting to it that were not devoting to what we used to do. I've used metaphor before and so my talks I like in screen time to binoculars. What binoculars do is when you put them to your eyes. You see distant objects and they become very close but you lose your peripheral vision. You lose the ability to see what's going on right around you so true when we absorb ourselves in screen time we see distant happenings. We see all the corruption in Washington DC. Here we see protests or we see fires we see earthquakes and these things come very close and they look very very close to us what we miss is what's going on right around us. The goodness of our people are relating to one another. The work of God in our lives. Jesus told us to love our neighbors will even see our neighbors because were always focused on what's happening far away. I think this is probably the greatest challenge to the church today was social media is these conspiracy theories we see all these happenings in the government that disquiet us as Christians and we think it's our responsibility to get on social media and rage about those things. But Jesus tells to love our neighbors whom you know we need to put our peripheral vision back stop looking for the binoculars and start looking side to side to the people that need to know the Lord and who need to be loved it so good because it's shaping what you're saying is it's shaping the way we view one another, shaping the way we view our families, our government, our world really tenets and like you said it's really sad. If I'm with someone and I don't see that someone literally within 5 feet of me like my granddaughter as I'm looking at her phone. I mean when she said that I got. Be honest, I didn't show it. I was mad mad at yourself at the comment that first it was like I mean, literally I thought her dad told her that my son, her dad told her that I was upset this was not just a six-year-olds observation. This is not true.

I can't believe she said that, I'm guessing. Austin told her that my Austin and tell her that she literally made on observation which has to be true that my wife is been telling me for months. And so then it's the do you deal like okay am I gonna deal with this and literally put it, I gotta be honest okay so I put down. Not only was I put down I want all of this see me on my screen and make that comment and the whole time I'm struggling to want to pick it up. It's that yeah important in my life.

Unlike what can I just turn this off for five hours.

No I can't. It's like I get an email or text or something. I don't know. But here's the ears or not ask you what is it one of the parables I tell in my in the beginning of the book as I talk about King David before he was King was a shepherd boy that I describe his monotonous life. You know it's flies that she dong still waters in green pastures and right, but then a wolf comes out everything about his body chemistry changes in a moment because this novel threat is presented to him.

So what you are doing what your brain was seeing on your screen is you were in a home with your granddaughter and everything was monotonous. It was predictable. It was normal.

Granddaughter was where she should be your kids wherever they should be that the table was where it was should be. Everything was normal right but your screen provided with a wolf, something interesting, something new that would would cause your body to go into this hyper aroused mode same as David the shepherd boy when he saw the wolf.

That's what that's literally what it is and when I turned that off right. It was hard it was like I guess it was sort of a little bit of withdrawal but actually dopamine is the reward for seeing something new. Using something awful in our brains are hardwired for it, but that's something that has to come under the Lordship of Jesus, just like everything else. Our attention where we fix our eyes. The Bible says fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. Most Christians have their eyes fixed on cable news and doom scrolling the Internet and that's what's ruining our faith.

That's what ruling or witness. That's what's making you so angry online is because these bad things and admittedly they are bad, but we weren't meant to see them nine hours a day and that's discouraging honestly because as a family. How can you compete with the wolf you now because it is boring. It is monotonous for doing the same old things.

Our kids are doing the same old thing and so it's hard to compete against that as a wife, as kids he now because it's stimulating to the mind while give you another variance on that Shelley Terkel, who is a professor at MIT has coined a phrase called being alone together and increasingly what family evenings look like is not families doing something together. It's everybody parked in front of their individual screen. No sons playing video games daughter is on social media wife is watching a sitcom husband that is on his iPad or whatever and so were physically present but were not involved in each other's lives.

We don't see each other and this isn't the increasingly unhealthy dynamic that is emerging in one of the reasons it's so unhealthy is because if you're not talking to each other regularly and having those healthy little interactions what's left to say only the urgent, why haven't you cleaned your song yeah why is your room. Such a pigsty. You only say the things you have to save your kids.

You don't have those those serendipitous moments where you get to rub their heads, or how was school or hey, you're looking good, or it does all go away because your your absorbed in your screen.

That's interesting because Dave and I were watching a TV show the other day and I told him this, and I found this true. They know more ripping out done with me. I just made this comment that a lot of times help will be watching a show together and he'll have his iPad on his lap and he's a pastor so a lot of times he's working on his sermon. Now you're trying to be nice now, but I'm just saying. And I told him I said have realized that I've stopped talking to you, even during his show to comment about the show because I feel like he's not in the room with me.

This is starting to feel like an intervention but not the same thing. No, if I can say I can start scrolling on my phone think our kids we all do that.

Honestly, we all do it, but I realize like I'm becoming more quiet and I'm wondering that's probably happening in homes where you just not talking because it's as if they're engaged talking to someone else on their device. I think it's very unhealthy. This being alone together. We need to fight that so hard we be physically and mentally present with our loved ones or to lose him and you experience this with your dad. You know I did. I was born in the early 1960s kind of when television became ubiquitous in American homes and in the Morrow household. If we were home and awake.

The television was on.

We started the day with today show and we ended the day with the Tonight Show.

The TV was always on that noise, even at the table. It was never turned off and I and a lot of people still live this way.

Yes, always TV noise not comfortable with silence that kinda disgusted me, and so on it when I became a teenager I just basically turn the TV off. I became a Christian I had other priorities.

You know the Holy Spirit was working my life. I really didn't see the need for that until about 2003. With the advent of Wi-Fi and all of a sudden I got very interested in following the news and I had this laptop and it could bring in dozens of websites and came out the what appeared little 13 inch screen and my kids and my wife had to have an intervention with me Dave so you're not the only day of the thing in trouble. This way, Dave, that it is a day that they had in hand things they had to take me aside and say you know dad.

We really feel like you're ignoring us. That was the words they used. You know I felt like I was a good dad I'd never been cut so deeply by anything my children said, and then I realize that my folly was just to repeat what my dad had done to me. Did you feel that as a son toward your dad. Oh, I certainly did his television obsession disgusted me. I just felt was avoiding real life and here I was doing the same thing that you think I would learn my lesson yeah but in about 2017. A friend of mine turned me onto a little game called words with Fred on my phone. I love words, I'm an author. Okay I'm all about this and I started playing words with friends, and I figured you notes 15 minutes here 15 minutes or doesn't add up that much wealth. Thankfully, about that time, Apple introduced its screen time feature which shows you how long you were on your phone I get this report. I'm sitting in church on Sunday.

They come on Sunday. By the way, I'm sitting in church is that it's and I looked at it, I had played words with friends for 12 hours a week that week 12 hours and you could probably think this is making me smarter or engaging with people. I'm engaging the little yellow tiles and I was so mad at myself again. I foresee I was in church so I didn't say anything, but I repented right then and there I deleted the game and which is really hard because their friends yeah just disappear from the game like that you feel like a disappointing but you know I had to make that second act of repentance to get to the point where I am now.

I think my screen use is somewhat under control. Our brains are so wired for novelty and so wired for something new, and a challenge that it's very easy to fall to the whole many asking so he decided okay I need to stop playing this game for this amount of time was a hard you know it's it's in my experience mirrors the experiences of many people I've talked to. It's very difficult at the beginning.

Within a week. You hardly miss it.

It's so interesting to just because of that downtime that space I remember feeding our kids in the middle of the night's babies and just being in the dark and in that darkness. Just praying, nice nothing else to deal need not, can't turn on a light, and some just praying and praying this is beautiful time of connecting with God. It's just@once and now you know having grandchildren and I'm seeing all these young parents.

There's no time for spacelike in the middle the night will feeding the babies your scrolling on your phone that is so true. Get the word you said there is nothing else to do.

There is now always something else to do and that is really unprecedented in history. It's not how were meant to function.

Our brains are meant to rest and his followers of Jesus were meant to use those downtimes for communion with God and we are just preempting that with screen content. I saw just last month and I were speaking at our church on our book on parenting in somebody that morning. For whatever reason, because I knew her talk about parenting sent me a little clip from the Internet so they got off their phone member this is that it's a dad feeding his little baby daughter so she's over here in his right arm with a bottle in her mouth. He has taped on the side of his head facing her a picture of his mom so she's looking right off of the babies you know his wife. The babies mom and he's got his phone and he's looking at his phone and his babies looking at his wife. If I got pulled out of the whole car gazes broke out in laughter by thought. It's funny but it's also sad. It is his entire you know everything is all all his energies chase and the wolf. I guess you don't really own. Yeah, it's just so pervasive and so easy to fall into that trap. Because biochemical is much even more so that their child. There is a need to survive.

You know our brains have to notice novelty because it's something that you can eat or something they can eat you because it's primal and so advertisers and screen content producers are using our brains against us using that those urges those chemicals, and against us to addict them on their products. Yeah what's it really is the night I thought. I don't know if I've ever read it anywhere else but in your book was how you describe how screens have socially distanced us again. I don't think I've ever heard that term before the pandemic. You know, social distancing, I'm unsure. It's been around, but the other. That became the term you know you had a social distance and yet you bring out the idea even from the TV screen to now the phone screen. We have been socially distanced by our screens look at architecture.

I mean, in the 1940s. All houses at front porches mother got rid of those because nobody sat outside anymore starting the 1950s.

They stayed inside watching Ed Sullivan.

So guess screens have been socially distancing us as soon as I entered our homes. We spend way more time looking at them. Then we can spend looking at each other and I think that's a reason for a lot of the mistrust it was study was done that just broke my heart.

Among baby boomers and older's about only about 1/3 of them are called load thrusters. They asked him questions about you know, if you give another person an opportunity will they take advantage of you, only about 1/3 of the older generation were 73% of the younger generation are load thrusters they feel like everyone's in it for themselves. You can't trust the government.

You can't trust your neighbor, you can't trust the church, you can't trust the schools and all this mistrust is the fact that we simply don't see each other anymore. What we do is we see an image of ourselves and that the images that were fed are typically images of people doing bad things.

Everything from crime dramas on television to endless stories about corrupt politicians and pedophile priests and all these terrible people because their wolves and wolves get our attention, and you think that's why the anxiety percentage has gone up so high in our kids. Well, it's one of the reasons you guys. Of course, track family dissolution. You know what's happening to our families. It's a chicken and egg question which was first. I think they're both contributing to that but yeah a lot of the anxiety is certainly because of social comparison would be another thing to think about it.

A young woman who grew up let's go back to King David's day if she was trying to catch the eye of a young man she had maybe four or five other girls to compete with that was that. That was all the women in the village tribe who you competing with now Kim Kardashian with dozens of social media influencers I meet. How is a woman supposed to compete with that this go back to where we started. Speak to the guy or the gal who has a six-year-old, saying to them or their wife or somebody in their life is said, you know, I think you might be on your screen too much.

What would you say to you is an old saying in recovery of 10 people tell you have a tail you better turn around and look you gotta realize that if somebody saying you have a problem screens.

You probably do so, you have to accept that word with humility.

Second, you have to understand the biomechanical things that are going on in your brain. The reasons why you turn to your screen and you have to understand that you're fighting your biology here that takes effort it takes prayer. It takes the support of others, and I'm hoping we can get into this in our next say I know what we do if we are severely screen addicted, which is overseeing a lot of young people and you got to go for maybe professional help or counseling. Are you really got to get some really skilled allies in this fight or you're gonna lose it daily give us a good homework question for tonight at our dinner table with families like as a parent, what can we ask you like can we ask the question, do you guys think that I'm on my phone too much.

That's an excellent question.

Yeah, I mean that just that humility. Who are you cadet you could start off maybe with a theoretical do you know anybody who's on their phone too much, does it ever met. How you feel when somebody looks at her phone is that of you how you feel about that and then turn around yourself and boy that that humility will go a long way. It's a pray before you have those conversations, and even to ask your spouse if your kids are gone to ask your spouse. Do you feel like this is dominating my life. That's a great question for me. Even with that day with all of the action step was look around, not down is that simple is like him looking down a lot at a screen I need to put that away. Look what's around me and I have a precious six-year-old granddaughter that I'm not gonna get every day with I'm only their first your present him to miss that miss her miss my you know her little brother and me. This is crazy to think we could get so caught up in the screen and miss what's around. So I hope today's the day that people say not as a question and answer it with humility and a minute take the step God wants me to take you probably heard someone say some point or another, wherever you are. Be all there and honestly we have devices attached to us that keep calling us to be somewhere else when we are where we are, but if we value relationships has David and Wilson were saying if our kids and our grandkids matter to us if our spouse matters to us.

We need to know how to manage our devices and not be controlled by them. David Morrow has helped all of us in a book he's written called grounding and screen time. We feel this book is so pivotal that we want to make it available this week to every family life to a listener who can help support this ministry in our ongoing mission. We seek to effectively develop godly marriages and families. We believe godly marriages and families can change the world one home at a time and our goal is that every home would be a godly home. So when you support that mission help us reach more people more often with practical biblical help and hope for their marriage and their family we want to say thank you by sending you a copy of David Morrow's book grounding in screen time, you can make your donation online that family life or you can call to donate one 800, FL, today is our number again. The website is family life to or you can call one 803 586-329-1800 F as in family L as in life, and then the word today make a donation. Ask for your copy of David Morrow's book grounding in screen time.

We trust that the book will help you and we want to say thank you in advance for helping expand the ministry of family life through your donations tomorrow morning to talk about how every minute of every day we face the choice to either be engaged in a real relationship with a real person who's right there with us or to have a digital relationship which is a whole different kind of relationship with somebody who's on a screen somewhere else. David Morrow joins us again tomorrow.

We hope you can join us as well on behalf of our hosts Steven and Wilson on Bob Lapine will see you next time for another edition of family life today family like to is a production of family life accrued ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most

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