“Come on, let’s eat. Put the tablet up.” “Go start your shower, put the tablet up.” “Did you have a good day today? Hello…. I’m talking to you. PUT THE TABLET UP!!!!!” Does this sound like familiar dialogue in your home? Please tell me I'm not alone! My oldest son got an iPad for Christmas. Despite having rules and restrictions with his new device, it seems we are constantly having to tell him to put it away! I feel like I sound like an “old person” complaining about kids nowadays. How they have their nose stuck in their phones and seem to be so disconnected. What is the appeal? Is it the bright screen? A desire to be informed? Or a fear of being uninformed? Maybe we, as parents, and adults, should ask ourselves these same questions. Are we not just as guilty? Maybe our children's attachment to their device is a learned behavior. I constantly find myself on my phone. There are many times my boys are begging for attention when I give them a “glance up” or an “uh huh” or a “just a minute.” I'm not always on social media. I use my phone for recipes, banking, Bible reading, calculating, communicating, shopping, you name it! But your children don't know what you're looking at. And they don't care. They want you to look at them. Recently a relative was visiting. My son was excited, wanting to show them his new toys. Our visitor was preoccupied responding to a text message. He knew they were not invested, so he waved his hand in their face and said very matter-of-fact “FOCUS ON ME!!!” And it got their attention. Two days later my oldest was building a fort. I was looking at my phone when he asked me to come and look. I glanced up and said “yeah, thats cool.” Then he asked again. I said “yeah, I saw it buddy.” I then noticed his whole demeanor change. His expression turned to sadness and disappointment as he climbed under the blanket. I walked over to ask what was wrong, and assured him that I had seen his fort. He said, “but I wanted you to REALLY look at it.” What I didn't realize until later were all of the fine details. He had little soldier action figures lined out on top of the stools, like the men were preparing for battle. He was so proud. And I was so ashamed. I had failed. The next day I intentionally left my phone aside and took my two year old to the park. We chased birds, went digging for worms, and played on the seesaw. When my seven year old got home from school we played basketball, jumped on the trampoline, and played chase. It was a good day. It's not just the kids addicted to technology. Have you ever seen the saying “Your cell phone has already replaced your watch, camera, calendar and alarm clock. Don't let it replace your family.” How eye-opening! What is it going to take for us to realize how important these relationships are? And don't forget the most important relationship, our relationship with Jesus Christ.
In Proverbs 4:25-27 it says “25 Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. 26 Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. 27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil. I can assure you that many times in my life God has waved in my face and said very matter-of-fact “FOCUS ON ME!!!” If I were better at recognizing and obeying this, my priorities would be in the proper order and everything else would fall into place. Not only would my parenting improve, I would save a lot of future regret…….. and cellular data.