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Screen Time: Less is More

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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June 5, 2023 8:02 am

Screen Time: Less is More

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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June 5, 2023 8:02 am

Screens…they’re everywhere! In fact, you’re using one right now. Here’s an important question: are the screens that you’re using improving your connections with other people? Or are you becoming more isolated? What about the screens that your children use? Join us to hear Jonathan McKee’s perspective on how to trim down the screen usage that is distracting us from better things, like spending time with our family and the Lord.


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Hi, Jim Daly here. Today's culture deeply needs help, but in times like these, the light of Christ can shine even brighter.

So be encouraged to share his light in this broken world. Listen to the Refocus with Jim Daly Podcast. Without time limitations, I'll have deep, heartfelt discussions with fascinating guests who will encourage you to share God's grace, truth, and love. Check out the podcast at or wherever you get your podcasts. Today, Jonathan McKee shares ideas about connection and how that is influenced by all of the screens we use in our lives.

But let's just be honest, we haven't figured this thing out. This is a great tool for connecting people outside the room, but we're learning that it kind of interferes with our relationship with the people inside the room. Welcome to Focus on the Family with your host Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. Well, Jonathan McKee always has a lot of insight to share when it comes to media and its impact on the family, and today is no exception. Jonathan is a social researcher, a popular speaker, and an author of many books, including Parenting Generation Screen, Guiding Your Kids to be Wise in a Digital World, published by Focus on the Family.

And he's also a contributor to our Plugged In Show Podcast, and so he's really part of the family, so to speak. Here now, Jonathan McKee at First Woodway Baptist Church in Woodway, Texas, on Focus on the Family. If I were to walk into the typical American home at 7 p.m. on any night, it's not just young people staring at screens.

Let's be honest. Dad is sitting there looking at a big screen, mom's sitting next to, maybe watching that screen, but also looking at a screen of her own. You go upstairs, definitely sister is looking through TikTok videos on her phone, brother is playing games on his device, toddler's flicking shapes across the screen, and the family dog is on the treadmill because no one will walk him.

I mean, this isn't a young people problem. This is a, we love our screens issue here. And the question we need to maybe ask ourself is, is there a chance that even the fact that there's more screens, more screen time, more connections, you know, than anyone in history, are we more satisfied? Is there a chance that maybe less could be more?

I'm being very real with you. I like my screen. This screen can be fun. It is a great device for connecting with people outside the room when it doesn't interfere with the people inside the room. And what I'm just wondering, is there times that this screen is very helpful?

Is there times where maybe it just belongs in the pocket? It's funny to watch how things are changing from screens. It's changing the way we enjoy moments. We used to just enjoy moments. Now we have to post about the moment. It used to be that we would just enjoy a cup of coffee, but now we got to let our followers know how good our cup of coffee was.

We're all living the life of an eighties rock star. What do my followers think? You know, I just got to think about my followers and because it's all about the number of followers or friends we've got. So we live in a country right now where eight out of 10 young people want to be an influencer in one way or another. What's happening is this is kind of creating a lot of pressure on us because that number now is very important.

And here's what it does to us just emotionally. It's kind of an interesting thing. And not a lot of people are talking about this because again, this is brand new.

So this is kind of new research that's just emerging. But what people have started to see is that there's this moment that everybody does talk about where you post something. Look it, I'm enjoying a moment. Let me post about it.

But what we aren't talking about is after that moment. After we post about it, the waiting. Because after we post, there's this moment where we're waiting to see if the likes come in, see if the traffic goes up, see if we get the amount of followers we should have. And so some people are going to more lengths to try to, hmm, if I do this, I've noticed I've, you know, get a little bit more likes or this is when the followers start to spike.

If I do this. And there's this moment after post where it's affecting a lot of us because even if we've got a bunch of followers, even if we've got a bunch of friends, there's always someone with more followers. How come I only got 637 likes? Taylor got 1,122 likes.

I don't understand. And so it's starting to affect us and we're seeing this number in particular be something crucial. Let's try something real quick. Let's talk about this influencer thing for just a quick second. Let's pretend that this room right here is America who is, and by the way, we're talking, you know, literally when it comes to what percentage of America is online, it's almost pretty much everybody. You're in the very high 90s. When it comes to young people pre-COVID, it was like 97% have access online.

And during COVID because of schooling, everything like that, we're like, we need to get everybody. So I mean, we're at the 98 or 99% mark. So let's just say that this is America right here.

This room is. Let's try something. If your birthday is January 1st through November 10th, go ahead and stand up where you are real quick. Let's just do something.

January 1st through November 10th, go ahead and stand up. Okay. This is how many young people want to be influencers today. Go ahead and look around you.

If this was America, this is how many young people want to be influencers today. So just look to your right and left real quick. Okay. Sit down unless your birthday is May 3rd and you were born between 12 a.m. and 3.53 a.m. Do we have anybody? Do we have anybody?

Hey, we have two? Yes. Give them a hand. Look at that.

Or maybe even three. Okay. You may sit down. They right there represent the one 2,250 second that actually can make it as an influencer full time. Okay. That's just what the numbers are. Okay.

They represent that. And we got to be careful here because I mean, we don't want to squash. I mean, honestly, that's better odds than making it in the NBA.

Okay. You know, we don't want to tell LeBron, hey, buddy, you know, the odds aren't good. We don't want to squash LeBron's dreams.

There might be a future LeBron right here, you know? But the fact is, there's a lot of young people out there who are trying. And the question we need to start asking is what kind of effect is it having when a lot of us aren't making it or aren't quite seeing ourselves as being as popular, as liked as everybody else around us? And as a guy who studies this a lot, interview after interview, study after study of people with hundreds of thousands of followers who are saying the pressure was too much. Those who even made it to the top. And this isn't just a social media thing, folks.

A lot of people who made it to the top can't handle the pressure. We've seen it a lot. And in the world of screens right now, what we're seeing is we're seeing depression spiking more than it ever has before. And folks, this research went before COVID because a lot of people considered, well, with COVID.

No, no, no. Pre-COVID, depression had spiked more than it ever had before. Teenage suicide among teen girls was at an all-time spike. Anxiety, everything. And of course, people are looking, hey, screen time's going up.

Depression's going up. People started drawing those lines. Of course, some people started putting blame right away. So we start seeing studies come out. We start seeing people saying, hey, these technology companies knew about this.

We're seeing reports coming out naming certain social media. Hey, comparisons on Instagram are making it really tough out there on young girls because there's this constant comparison going on. How come I'm not getting as many likes? How come I don't look as good? My daughter and I embarked on a book.

We were actually finishing it up last time I was here two years ago. And as we wrote this book, it was fascinating to hear her perspective on this because as someone who loves social media and who actually enjoyed Instagram, she was very vulnerable in this book. And she said, every time I posted something on Instagram, she goes, in all honesty, I thought everybody else looked good in the pics and I couldn't help but compare. She said, that's the one thing Instagram always does to me. It makes me compare.

And she says, comparison is the thief of joy. Then COVID came along. And when COVID came along, basically all of a sudden it hit a generation that was already pretty lonely.

It's ironic, more connected, but less intimate friends. COVID comes along and all of a sudden it's hitting us in the face and a lonely generation got even lonelier. And we started to see actually depression and suicide go up.

But also we saw an awareness where a lot of people start to admit, hey, you know what? I like face to face relationships, but is there a point where maybe enough is enough? What do we do as parents and grandparents and people who care about this generation? But the question I want to focus on right now is I want to ask as a family, as a church body, is it too much? Are there possibly some unforeseen consequences to being so over-connected that we don't connect anymore? We live right now in a country where the average mom and dad spends more time on a screen than they do with each other or their kids.

Is there a chance that we are so over-connected that we don't even connect anymore? What's the answer? Well, to get the answer, let's go to a place where I think all the answers are and let's go to Luke chapter 10. And just to prove to you that I don't think screens are bad, I'm going to go on my screen right here. Here we go.

Luke chapter 10. And honestly, it's because I can make the font really big and that really helps me. Yeah, no, I mean, I got it big.

It's like for God, so loved. Yeah. Okay, I can read that. There we go.

Okay. Luke chapter 10. Here we go. It started with verse 38.

It's amazing how this, by the way, 2,000 something years ago, so perfectly relevant today. I'll start in verse 38. Jesus and his disciples were on their way. He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened up her home to him. She had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was, what's the next word? Distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to and asked, Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me. Okay, let's pause right there for a quick second.

Picture this. I mean, I love this, that we see this story about these two sisters. And we don't know exactly what went on, but it was something like, here's two sisters that wanted to connect with Jesus. Maybe the conversation was, Martha, when you cook, oh, I mean, you've got a gift, girl. So tell you what, you cook a meal and I bet you anything Jesus and his posse might show up.

It might be a cool thing. And sure enough, they invite. Jesus says, sure. And he and the disciples show up and when they show up, they're like, this is great. We want to connect with Jesus. We thought if we do the meal thing, we'll be able to connect with Jesus.

Mary, she gets it, immediately plops at Jesus' feet and it's just soaking him in. But Martha was distracted. Let me ask you a quick question. Anything wrong with cooking? Anything wrong with the gift of hospitality?

No, I mean, it's a good thing. Those are good things. There was nothing wrong with what Martha's intentions were. She with good intentions set out to do something that would help her connect with Jesus. The problem was that she got so focused on that something that she forgot about the connecting with Jesus part. As a matter of fact, she allowed it to become a source of bitterness between her and her sister. And next thing you know, she's coming to Jesus and going, can we do something here?

Tell her to do it because, I mean, come on, I'm doing all the work here. She was so distracted by something that she set out with very good intentions to connect. And that very thing that she was using to connect kept her from connecting. Hmm.

Kind of weird, huh? She was so distracted by what she was trying to use to connect that she forgot about connecting. Sometimes in life we get so distracted with something that it distracts us from the connections, from the stuff that matters. And a lot of us, when I say there's something that's distracting us, you know exactly what it is. It would fill in that blank. If we were to fill that out, sometimes I allow blank to become a distraction in my life.

You know exactly what it is. So what does Jesus say? What does he tell us about these distractions in our life?

Let's keep reading because his answer is amazing. So we left with Martha coming up and saying, Lord, Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me. And Jesus says, Martha, Martha, the Lord replied, you are worried and upset about so many things.

How many of you by the way are right there? Worried and upset about so many things. But indeed few things are needed or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her. I love this modern translation.

Here's what it would be. Martha, Martha, chill, order a pizza. And I love the fact that Jesus doesn't even name what the one thing is because it's so obvious. Martha, you're so distracted by so many things. You're so distracted.

This went probably a little deeper than just prepping a meal. No, you're so distracted about all these things when only one thing is needed and your sister found it. And it's interesting because when we look at this one thing throughout scripture, so many of us were going through life and maybe with good intentions, we allow other things to become a distraction, other connections to become a distraction from the one connection that matters.

Some of us are actually connecting with people, complete strangers, and we're hurting the relationships of the people around us, our sister and our Lord who is begging us to just sit at his feet. Martha allowed her cooking to become the one thing instead of Jesus. Jesus talks, by the way, that this one thing is nothing new in scripture. We see it all through scripture. As a matter of fact, one of Jesus' followers, Paul, talks about it later in his letter to the Philippians. He says, brothers and sisters, I don't consider myself yet to have taken a hold of this, but one thing I do, forgetting what's behind, straining toward what's ahead, I press on towards the goal, which is Christ Jesus.

That's the one thing. We see later in the book of Hebrews, Hebrews does this summary, this cliff note version of the heroes of faith in the Bible, and it says, look at all these people, look at all these heroes of the faith. And the next verse says, considering these cloud of witnesses, these great people of faith, let's do something here. Let's strip off all that hinders that sin that's so easily entangled, and let's do one thing, let's fix our eyes on Jesus. We keep seeing this over and over again. We have these things that so easily entangle us, and we allow them to become a distraction.

For a lot of us, that one thing that we would write in that blank, we know it's something that's entangling us and needs to go. What do you need to trim? I love mountain biking, and I won't say I'm a great mountain biker, but I live by some great mountain bike trails. I live in California at the base of the Sierra Mountains, right near Folsom. And you can literally go right up the hill to one of the most beautiful places on earth, I'm not exaggerating, Lake Tahoe, the deepest, bluest lake you've ever seen. And it's set up at an elevation so high that it's surrounded by snow-capped mountains and pine trees, gorgeous. And when you look at it, the blue is entrancing.

It's just, it's so majestic, it's amazing. I'm going on this mountain bike ride with my friends Mark and Amy who coach mountain biking. I don't coach mountain biking, okay?

I have a mountain bike, and my mountain bike is worth about the same amount as their back wheel of their mountain bike. And it's funny that I mention the back wheel because right before the ride, Mark says, okay, Jonathan, today there's lots of distractions on this ride. He goes, listen to me if you don't want to die.

I said, you got my attention. He says, we're going to be up on some precarious trails, we're going to be next to some edges that if you fall off, yeah, you'd probably die. And so what I want you to do is I want you to focus on my back wheel. You can't take your eyes off this trail. I'm going to be in front of you, so just watch my back wheel.

You're going to be tempted to look. He goes, we could sight see later. He goes, when we're going on this precarious trail, do not look to your right or left.

Keep your eyes focused on. And he said it, one thing, my back wheel. I said, okay, back wheel, don't die. Got it. That's good.

I'll try it. And so we start on this ride and he wasn't kidding, man. This was a crazy ride. We're going and it's like, we're going left. We're going right.

We're on this trail. And I'm just sitting there. I'm just like, watch the back wheel. Don't die. Watch the back wheel. Don't die. And I'm doing that.

And pretty soon we go up and we hang this left and we're in this clearing where I see from my God given peripheral vision, this beautiful blue, big something over there. But I'm going, watch the back wheel. Don't die. Don't look right or left.

Watch the back wheel. But it was blue and it was there and it was open. It was entrancing.

And I was just like, maybe I could just, oh my gosh. I mean, it was amazing. It was there. It was Lake Tahoe. It was gorgeous. It was surrounded by snowcapped mountains, trees.

Gorgeous. And that's why I didn't, true story, see the trail, turn left and Mark turn left. I went straight right off the edge.

True story. And as I go off, it's happening in slow motion. And I'm like, oh, darn. And there's this pine tree right there. And I just grabbed it like elf, man.

I just grabbed it. And as my body kept going and I'm like, my bike is hooked to my feet, you know, and I just go like this. The pine tree goes, literally just grabbing this poor little Christmas tree. And when it got all bent down like this, the Christmas tree was like, hey, dude, you need to lay off the pizza a little bit. I'm like, shut up. You're a tree. And Mark comes back and he goes, you took your eyes off my back wheel, didn't you? I was like, but the lake is so beautiful. Is there anything wrong with looking at a lake? The fact is sometimes things become a distraction from the one thing that's important.

What do you got to trim? I'll close by telling you this. A few years ago, my, one of my kids were still in the house. They've grown up now, gone out of the house. They were getting ready to go on a missions trip. And on this missions trip, the youth pastor decided to do something kind of bold.

He said, I want to prepare our hearts for the missions trips. We're going to try something. We're going to do a media fast. We're not going to fast from food.

We're going to fast from screens and music and entertainment media. We want to fast a little bit. And everybody's like, okay. And they're like, and he said, so if we want to do this missions trip, we're going to fast for the month before the trip.

And everybody starts freaking out. My kids are like, a month? I'm not going. I mean, literally kids are like, I'm not going on this stupid trip. And you know, and we as parents are like, ah, come on, grow up a little bit. And then the youth pastor literally says, and as families, it'd be unfair for them to do it. So we're going to do it too.

And immediately the parents are like, this is stupid. You're not going on this trip. You know what I mean? I mean, we're just, you know, come on. I don't want to miss NCIS Waco. I mean, come on.

It's NCIS for every town in this nation right now. But so we all were kind of like rebelling a little bit and we're like, you know, and finally we're like, okay, let's pray about this. And so we prayed as a family and as a family, we're like, okay, let's try it. And I remember like literally the first couple of days, it was just weird. We got in the car, I'd flip on the radio and my kids were like, dad, don't. And I'm like, it was Chris Tomlin. I thought it was okay. I'm sorry.

You know, and literally like at night, my kids would finish the homework like four or five o'clock and they'd come downstairs and they'd be like, what are we going to do? I'm like, I don't know. Here's a ball. Let's throw it at the dog.

The dog lost 30 pounds that month. All right. I mean, it was amazing. We started hanging out as a family. We started, we, I mean, literally we were like, what are we going to do?

So we'd sit there and we'd light a fire in the living room, which is really weird because we don't have a fireplace, but I mean, we just, we're like doing anything, you know, just hanging out. When the 30 days were up, they went on the mission trip, they came back and I'll never forget. They're like, dad, we, we can't go back the way it was.

They said, and they weren't ready to give up screens or anything. I mean, I think we literally did a Lord of the rings extended edition trilogy day where we were like for 12 hours sitting on the couch, like must have screen. You know, we, we kind of soaked it back in, you know, right into our veins. But we talked as a family and we came up with an idea and for our family, we came up with no tech Tuesday.

It was just a taste. It was like, Hey, on Tuesdays, what do you say when we're done with homework, whatever that we just make that a night where we just sit and read by the fire because we realized that less was more. And with that image of a family enjoying some quiet time around a fireplace, we come to the end of this presentation from Jonathan McKee on today's episode of focus on the family. I like that image, John.

And that's the perfect winter day here in Colorado. And I really appreciate the wisdom that Jonathan has shared with us today. And if you want to go deeper, let me recommend Jonathan's book called parenting generation screen guiding your kids to be wise in a digital world published by focus on the family. It will equip you to have important conversations with your children about social media, screen time and entertainment.

Get the book from us here. Focus on the family by becoming a monthly sustainer of the ministry that way together, we're doing ministry together. It doesn't have to be a large amount. It's the consistency that really helps us kind of even out our budget month to month.

Your monthly giving will help us provide tools and resources to parents who need that help. One example of that help is our plugged in show podcast featuring Jonathan McKee and our own plugged in team who will keep you up to date on the latest trends in movies, music, video games, and technology. It is a tremendous resource. It really is. And plugged in is just one of the many podcasts that you can access online.

New episodes are released weekly. It's really handy. Dina and I really relied on plugged in when our kids were teens and they'd say, can we go to this movie?

And I'd say, got to check plugged in first. And our boys would say, okay. But it's so important to be wise in our media choices today and help our kids do the same. Listen to this note we received from a man. I'll call Kevin who desperately needed help and had a consultation with one of our counselors. Kevin said, you guys do such good work.

I spent years listening to very sick music and it took me a long time to clean up my mind. A friend introduced me to focus on the family and I'm so thankful. Keep up the great work. You're making a big impact. That's a really powerful comment.

It is and media choices have consequences and parents need to be involved in those choices as much as possible. Well, I hope you'll consider supporting Focus on the Family as we do our best to help families thrive in Christ. And when you make a monthly pledge of any amount, we'll send you a copy of Parenting Generation Screen as our way of saying thank you. And if you can't afford to make a monthly commitment right now, we understand that. We can send the book to you for a one-time donation of any amount.

We want you to have it because we know that you'll use it. And you can reach us when you call 800, the letter A in the word family, or follow the link in the episode notes to donate to the work of Focus on the Family and request your copy of Jonathan's book, Parenting Generation Screen. And this reminder that when you get the book from us, we'll include a free audio download of Jonathan's entire presentation so you can listen again or share this great content with a friend.

And when you're online with us, look for links to the Plugged In Show podcast, which is so helpful, and our smartphone app as well. Next time, Matt and Lisa Jacobson describe how God can help you better love your spouse. Holiness only relates to one person. You can't be holy for somebody else.

And your holiness is not predicated on the behavior of another person. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to this Focus on the Family podcast. If you would please take a moment or two and leave a rating for us in your podcast app and tell others about this great content. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

and help you find out which program will work best. That's 1-866-875-2915.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-05 09:35:44 / 2023-06-05 09:47:23 / 12

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