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Are We Missing It?

If you were to track your screen time daily (Oh wait! Smartphones actually do that for you!) and all your other activities to show how your time is spent, what would a pie chart reveal about your priorities? What are you missing out on because of your screen time?

Shelby Pruitt, one of our guest bloggers, gives us a glimpse into her own struggle as she points out the daily tug-of-war many of us face. Join Shelby and me (Holly) today as we address something hurting our children and keeping us preoccupied with things that DON’T matter for eternity.

From Shelby:

I’m trying to put down my phone. It’s hard. There’s so much on it that is more than a phone. In fact, I hardly use the phone portion of my phone; it’s a camera, a timer, a record-keeper, a recipe resource, an encyclopedia, a store, a radio … there’s always some good reason why I need to have it close. But I’m trying to put my phone down.

And then I wondered how much had been happening around me that I missed because my eyes were on the screen.

Not long ago, I sat in my rocking chair to feed the baby and stopped my hand when I reached for my phone. Instead, I sat. Before long, the littlest girl toddled by, and I decided to observe her: how she walked, how she stooped to pick up the tiniest thing on the floor, how she tipped her head as she babbled away, how she carried her selected toys. It was adorable! And then I wondered how much had been happening around me that I missed because my eyes were on the screen.
Putting my phone down during the day feels less efficient. But when I think of the fun expressions on my children’s faces that I’ve glimpsed or the conversations I’ve tuned into or the changing sunlight moving through the windows as our day progresses or spotting the hummingbird by our bottlebrush tree, I realize there is more to life than efficiency. In some ways, I’m starting to feel like every moment my eyes are on a screen could be better spent elsewhere.
I certainly don’t have it all figured out since I am on my phone even by writing this blog (hence why it has taken me weeks to finish). For most of my social connections, it is the only way we can keep in touch, and I am thankful for the enrichment opportunities it offers. But moving forward, I no longer want to feel like the majority of my life has been spent on a screen or is dependent on one. My world is bigger and richer and deeper than that; it’s time to give my spirit the chance to experience the hidden layers that are otherwise easily missed.

From Holly:

After reading Shelby’s blog, my heart was heavy. I’ve heard more times than I can count how there is such a problem with teens being addicted to their cell phones and tablets, leading to social media addiction, depression, suicidal thoughts, and a myriad of other problems. But are teens really the problem? Who buys the cell phones, pays the monthly charges, and manages the teens’ access? Where is the accountability?

Ironically, here’s what I observed: the adults were the ones more engaged with their screens than the children and teenagers.

Recently, I’ve spent some time in planes, trains, and automobiles traveling to my granddaughter’s third birthday party in one state and my father-in-law’s Celebration of Life service in another. During the travel and the visits, and with ample time to watch people, the Lord directed my attention to the screen time and cell phone usage of those around me—fellow passengers, family members, and acquaintances. Ironically, here’s what I observed: the adults were the ones more engaged with their screens than the children and teenagers. In fact, as I enjoyed reconnecting with many nieces, nephews, and other relatives on my husband’s side of the family, I was blessed by the fact that the Generation Z members were eager to engage in conversation and other interactions—attentively and enthusiastically. They appeared to crave connections and learn more about the relatives they hadn’t seen for years.

Many of them feel invisible and want to know that they matter and are seen—seen more than the latest YouTube video, TikTok post, or Reel.

You see, we’re now seeing in research studies that the younger generation (who just endured two school years of social isolation due to COVID-19) suffer from feelings of loneliness and insecurity—exacerbated by the influences of social media and the distracted adults in their lives. Many of them feel invisible and want to know that they matter and are seen—seen more than the latest YouTube video, TikTok post, or Reels.
As Shelby shared her own epiphany about how these very productive tools can also be a harmful deterrent from being present in the moments with her children, each of us needs to evaluate how our screen time invades our relationships, which often leads to distance and ultimately division between us and our children.
Parents, I want to challenge you to evaluate your screen time—if you don’t think it’s that bad, just access the data available on your phone that will tell you the truth about it. I’m pretty confident that if you start setting goals of reducing your at-home screen time by 30-60 minutes per day and use that time instead to be fully present and engaged with your spouse and children or grandchildren, the Lord will bless those times exponentially.
A recent research study in which over 40,000 people from the general population ranging in age from 8-80 were polled revealed that huge benefits are realized when meaningful Bible reading occurs four or more times per week. Interestingly, one time or two times made no difference (showing that if you only read the Bible at church, it’s not going to yield noticeable spiritual growth and benefits). Three times showed a slight improvement, but Bible reading four times per week was when significant, measurable, undeniable effects occurred. And they’re pretty amazing.
  • Feelings of loneliness drop by 30%.
  • Anger issues drop by 32%.
  • Bitterness in relationships drops by 40%.
  • Alcoholism drops 57%.
  • Feeling spiritually stagnant drops by 60%.
  • Viewing pornography drops by 61%.
  • Sharing your faith with others increases by 200%!
  • Discipling others increases by 230%!
Our mission at Reasons for Hope is to train and equip a new generation to stand boldly on the Word of God. We invite you to join us in this goal by engaging with your children in reading and studying God’s Word. As you can see, the data shows what a difference it will make in your faith and theirs. Don’t miss this opportunity! They are within our reach!
AUTHOR BIOs:
Shelby Pruitt was raised on the island of Oahu, where she earned her Masters of Education in Teaching after being home-educated from preschool through high school. She taught language arts for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades at a private Christian school until motherhood became her next full-time position. She and her husband live in Florida, where they homeschool their eight young children. Shelby desires to honor and serve Jesus in all aspects of her life. She filters life through the lens of both mother and educator, for the two are truly interwoven; she believes that one of the primary objectives of both roles should be to keep the spark of learning alive—in herself and the children in her care. 


To read more of Shelby's blogs, click
HERE.
Holly Varnum, Director of Curriculum Development at Reasons for Hope, serves as the Managing Editor for our book projects and weekly blogs, writes blogs and curricular materials to support many of our media resources, speaks at conferences, and trains Christian educators. With degrees in education, curriculum and instruction, and educational administration, she comes with over three decades of experience in working with teens and adults in camp ministry, teaching and administration, and curriculum writing (A Beka Book, Focus on the Family, and Answers in Genesis to name a few). God has provided her with a well-rounded educational perspective through service in Christian schools, charter schools, public schools, homeschooling, Christian camps, and local church ministry. She has been a classroom teacher, instructional coach, administrator, camp counselor, Sunday School teacher, ladies’ Bible Study teacher, and conference speaker. She looks forward to using her passion for God’s truth within the context of Reasons for Hope.

Her hobbies include cooking, baking, hiking, camping, traveling, and working on do-it-yourself projects. Holly and her husband, Paul, also enjoy any time they can spend with their three grown daughters, two sons-in-law, and three grandchildren (with another on the way!). They live between the beautiful states of Maine and southern New Jersey, and yes, they eat lobster (properly pronounced “lobstah”) and crab whenever they get a chance!


To learn more about Holly, or to book her as a speaker for educational, ladies', or girls' events, click HERE.

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