CTPress May 6, 2016

Dear Friends,

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Nancy Jo Sales’ American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers. I was not yet finished the book when I wrote that review. I was so captivated by the content of her reporting, I felt I needed to make people aware of this book. In the wake of this powerful work, I am left wondering how to respond. One of the conclusions the book makes is that teenagers are not learning how to share intimately, learning about what people like and dislike, who they are. This lack of relational bonding is due to the fact that so often, kids are glued to a screen of some kind – a phone, a tablet, a gaming device, a computer.

These are wonderful tools. They help us stay in touch, to work, to play and they entertain us. But do they need to be on all the time? What would happen if we stopped letting these devices control us, and we started being in charge?

Some of us are threatened by those questions. Some of us are addicted to our devices, and the idea of ignoring them, even for a little while, is horrifying. I ‘d like to offer these suggestions for how to start changing social media habits:

  • ONE meal each day that is “no cell phone zone.” Put the phones in a box or in a another room for one meal each day so you can talk to each other.
  • ONE night each week with no phones, screens, or electronic devices for a couple hours. Go one a date with your spouse, have a family game night – do something that allows you to talk with your family.
  • ONE day each month where you and your spouse/family go do something outside the house that does not involve electronics for at least half the day.

If you have adolescents in your house, they will fight you on this. Do it anyway. Don’t cave! Life is too short to spend it digitally. Engage, and really live!