“Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”
Proverbs 23:20-21 (NIV)
The Book of Proverbs isn’t quoted as often as it should be, but King Solomon knew what he was talking about – even if the wine and meat of years gone by has been replaced by technology so addictive it stops our children from ever focusing on anything else.
Our families need a detox program to step away from digital devices and focus on their relationships – smartphone addiction is a very real problem in today’s society, and the sooner families can address it, the easier things will be.
Now, it’s important to remember that we’re not encouraging the elimination of all technology. There are many perfectly valid uses for mobile phones, and teens who think we’re just anti-technology are more likely to rebel than think about improving their relationships. Indeed, Paul himself counseled on this matter, noting “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4, NIV)
Instead, we’d like to focus on helping everyone in the family see the phone as nothing more than a phone – it’s not their friend, it’s not important to their self-image, and it’s certainly not worth paying attention to when there are other things happening.
The Simple Detox Strategy
A technology detox plan should be started as early as possible – if family members are never addicted in the first place, they won’t need to recover from anything! Unfortunately, many families are already past that point, so you’ll have to set a few rules in place. Do not be afraid to set the rules for your family, either – in Proverbs 22:15 (NIV), King Solomon also wrote “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him,” and there are times when some sort of discipline is critical for a child’s development.
Here are some of the things you can do to implement a detox plan:
- Establish Phone-Free Zones: There are times when using any type of phone is completely inappropriate, and everyone in your family should be on the same page here. Phones should not be allowed during meals, at church, during most events, or beyond certain times of the day (such as after dinner). Start thinking of evenings as a time to be together – watching a movie together might be appropriate, but having everyone scattered and doing their own thing is not.
- Start Small: It can be hard to do a detox all at once, so try creating small goals that you can work on meeting until they become a habit. As always, the earliest days will be the toughest – but once you’ve changed your entire lifestyle, keeping it going will be so much easier.
- Keep Things Out Of Bedrooms: Few things are more conducive to technology addiction than having all of it in your bedroom! Keep the tech – computers, phones, and everything else – out in public areas. Checking messages should be something done once or twice a day, not every five minutes. In fact, consider setting a specific time to check each day.
- Stop Using Phones For Everything: There’s no need to document every moment of your life with your phone’s camera. The more each device is seen as a basic tool instead of the solution to every problem, the easier it is to stop picking it up. Try uninstalling every feature you don’t truly need and going without them for awhile.
Smartphones and other pieces of technology should be seen as a privilege, not something we have an intrinsic right to be using every moment of the day – and detoxing from their presence can help everyone start focusing on family again.