Disconnected

Lately, Molly and I have felt convicted over that ominous, backlit monster every 21st century parent fears most: screen time.


We've made a conscious effort to create spaces for our boys to engage with creation and explore the outdoors - our backyard is stippled with playground equipment and toys, the oldest is committed to a soccer schedule, we raise chickens as a family, and our weekend plans almost always include a hike in the Smokies.


But the allure of liquid crystal displays and the hum of an Xbox, many days, proves unavoidable. There's a constant temptation to ignore the magnetism of technology as it draws our kids in - ya'll parents know what I'm talking about.


Those rare moments of docility and, more importantly, silence feel like relief for our weariness. If Spongebob can capture my son's attention for the duration of a power nap, that can't possibly be a bad thing, right?


Yeah...I know the answer to that one.


I often think about how my Papaw went his entire life without opening a single social media account.


He had no concept of "likes" or "followers" in a digital framework. The only things he followed during his time on Earth were Jesus and the Atlanta Braves.


I crave that existence sometimes. That rose-tinted, lemonade-in-the-summertime, Mayberry mindset.


No silently peering into virtual windows of friends or enemies or strangers, no vague and incendiary posts, no highlight reels or (very) edited photos feeding an endless spiral of FOMO.


The reality is that this generation has unrestricted access to more knowledge than would ever be possible to consume, yet they're the most broken generation in human history.


And honestly, have we considered why?


Middle school is already terrible - imagine adding in a sea of nameless phantoms on keyboards selling ideologies, touting lifestyles and unimaginable success. When the school bell rings, peer-pressure simply switches wi-fi hotspots and picks up where it left off.


We wonder why these kids are succumbing to loneliness and depression before their brains are developed enough to even process the complexity of those feelings.


Younger and younger they're harming themselves, even killing themselves to escape algorithms literally built to influence and manipulate their behavior.


Our children are questioning the beauty of their bodies, the validity of their feelings, the value of their souls.


As reflections of God, the human desire to learn and experience is infinite. The insatiability of that desire should drive us towards an infinite, ever-fulfilling Creator.


Instead, humanity has constructed a modern-day Tower of Babel to fill the void and named it The Internet.


And while we amass digital matter, consuming the radiation of opinion and language and imagery - we, ourselves, are consumed.


It's time to be the jerk dad.


Hide the tablet. Change the passwords.


Unplug the router. Disconnect. Ground your kids in reality.


Talk to them about what's out there, who's out there. Because it's not a matter of if they'll be exposed but when.




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