Pandemic of screens infects adults too

BY AL EARLEY

Sun Columnist

Last week I took a look at the problem children are having with screens during the pandemic.  One family fasted from screens for a week and found all kinds of benefits including lots more quality family time, less fighting between their kids and less fighting about screens.  The kids also read more books and were more fun to be around.

This week I ask, “How are you doing with your average screen time a day?” Your phone keeps a record of all the different ways you use it. Go to your Settings app, find the “Screen Time” link, and take a look. You may find the results are disturbing.

The New York Post did a study of 2,000 adults and found that the average adult has gone from four hours a day to over six hours a day using their phone during the pandemic.

The results also found that there are many physical problems associated with the increased use which include eye problems, back, neck and shoulder problems. This increased screen time also takes us away from our families and the chance to build stronger families and marriages, and into social media and web sites that can further cause marital and family troubles.

Facebook has reported a 78% increase in use during the pandemic. People are trying to stay connected but past studies have shown Facebook time gives the illusion of staying connected but doesn’t actually satisfy our need to be with people.

Predictably, the use of pornography and gambling sites is also way up, which is certainly going to affect families in many negative ways. As the hours on screens add up, our experience of screen fatigue does as well.

Unfortunately, this rarely results in less screen time, but more time spent searching for new web sites that will help us get a new thrill, but won’t help our families at all.

So what can someone do to get their screen use under control? There is a wealth of information on the internet on ways to get screen time under control. I am going to offer some thoughts from a spiritual perspective.

The first and most important place to start is to realize you have a problem and desire to fix it.  Our faith reminds us in many ways that we do not have to continue on the same destructive paths.

Paul writes, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). So, take that desire to change to God in prayer and ask for God’s help.

Get a paper and pen and pray, “Lord, how can I reduce my screen use/avoid porn sites/stay away from gambling sites/etc?” Then listen. Write down everything that comes to your mind. When you read back over what you write you will realize some/all of it was from God.

Accountability is always a key to making changes, especially changes that affect our purity. Put your computer in a public place. Install an app to record your phone and computer web sites you visit. Invite a friend to meet with you regularly and review how you are doing, and pray with you.

Wise King Solomon wrote about the importance of trusting others to help us get stronger in Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”

Marriages have been hit very hard during the pandemic. Find quiet time to spend with your spouse and ask for forgiveness for allowing screens to invade your marriage. Begin working on plans to heal your marriage, spend less time on screens and more time together.

Start setting goals for your marriage. Find a good book on marriage to read together. If doing these things sound impossible, you may need to go to a counselor to move in a new direction.

Remember, God’s design and desire for marriage is stated many times in the Bible, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5, Mark 10:8, Ephesians 5:31). If you are not experiencing this, it is time to find out why and become a new creation in Christ.

How has the pandemic affected your screen use? What do you need to do to have a healthy balance of screen use in your life? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your family? Your marriage? Does your spouse agree?

I hope you will spend some time with your spouse and answer these questions together and find the oneness God desires you to have in marriage.

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous columns, see www.lagrangepres.org.