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Father’s Day: Want to Reconnect? Then Disconnect

The research has been conducted and the verdict is in (though we hardly needed it to tell us) – we’re hopelessly addicted to our digital devices.  So much so, in fact, that some psychologists are pushing to have “Internet Addiction” broadly classified as a clinical disorder.   But isn’t it really affirmation that we can’t get enough of?  We want people to acknowledge us, interact with us, consider our opinions, laugh at our jokes, and take part in our conversations.  And these are all legitimate, natural wants and needs, mind you.  Although we may seek the approval and affirmation of acquaintances, colleagues and classmates less if we received it from our families more.

*65% of North Americans spend more time with their computer than with their spouse.

**45% of workers say they can’t go more than 15 minutes without an interruption.

**50% of people leave their mobile phones on when they go to bed.

**Workers report that they leave their mobile phones on during movies, church & even sex.

Mobile devices, computers and social media are wonderful things, indeed.  They’ve transformed our lives and our world in countless positive ways.  But make no mistake, while we’re more connected than ever (and maybe because we’re more “connected” than ever), we’re more disconnected than ever from our families.

Ever texted your child in his or her room to tell them that dinner is ready?  Are instant messages replacing conversations at the dinner table?  Are you talking to your kids about their “status”? Or, reading about it on Facebook?

Because I’m sure this rings true to more of us than it should, I’m issuing a challenge today to dads across the country.

Disconnect.

That’s right.  On June 19th, Father’s Day, disconnect your digital device for 24 hours and reconnect with your family.

You’ll survive.  I promise.

In fact, I suspect you’ll be shocked at how much that quality time with your family can jolt those dormant relationships.  At how much you can download in a short time.  At how much you’ve been missed.

Here are two simple things you can do to make it happen:

1.  Before going to bed the night before Father’s Day, check your e-mail one final time, turn off your mobile device and put it in another room. You may get the shakes, but you’ll get over it.

2.  Plan the day well.  Alcoholics are very susceptible during periods of boredom and it’s no different with an internet junkie.  Plan a day of special activities with your family, so you’ll be less inclined/tempted to check email or go online.  And, if the family takes you out, leave the mobile device at home!   (You may be shocked, but yes – there was a time in ancient days when we actually left the house without a phone).

Remember – your kids watch your behavior more than they listen to your words.  And when they see you unable to disconnect from email, text messages and Twitter?  You’re telling them that what’s on your phone is more important to you than they are.

So, think about how much time you spend online versus how much time you spend face-to-face with the people you love you the most.  And, at the very least, for 24 hours on Father’s Day, think about which connection is the most important to you:

The one to the world?

Or the one to your family?

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39 Comments

  1. A word of warning: disconnect, yes, great idea. But don’t expect everyone else to do it, too. Spend the day getting to know what it feels like to want the attention of your child, or spouse, and have to share it with a Blackberry. Frustrated? Feeling dismissed and unimportrant? Get used to it, because that’s what your kids are getting from you, if you bring you’re on your iPhone at the dinner table, or soccer game, or choir concert, or the school play… believe me, your kids know the difference. If you only give your family the smallest possible slice of your attention, you can expect no more than that in return.

    This will be my first Father’s Day without my dad: he passed away last September. I would give anything for one more minute of his time. 

  2. Great article.

    As an avid cinema goer I suffer from what I call “cinema rage” (provoked by badly behaved audiences). The number one cause of this are those infernal text messages that pop up in front of me creating light pollution and shattering the feeling of immersion in the film. 

    There is hope though. On one recent occasion a large, bad tempered South African man told a row of teenagers in no uncertain terms that if they didn’t stop texting/answering calls incessantly that it would be the last thing they ever did. He got a round of applause.

    So if you go out to the movies with your family this Father’s Day, I hope you have a large, bad tempered South African man in your audience. Every cinema needs one.

  3. I’m in Phil!  In fact, I’m copying this out and making a flyer for our church bulletin this coming Sunday!  great idea…

  4. Ever think we do these things because we cant stand our wives, our kids suck and life in general is a pain in the ass?

  5. This is a great idea. What’s not a great idea is the “social media sharing” veil that comes down and covers the top 8th of the page as you scroll down, covering the page, and blocking me from reading whatever is underneath the veil. Seriously? Why would you do this??

  6. Briiliant!  Exactly what I was ranting about during my “Sunday Rant” last week – the ifamily should swith off all igadgets for 24 hours.
    I HATE mobile phones but the iPad is seductive – but who needs all that knowledge?
    I refuse to buy an iPhone or iPad….

  7. Phil. Just wondering about kids/Dads who aren’t together and want to call each other on Father’s Day? Are they exempt?
    Martin

    1. I think we can make an exception….    After all, the point is to really connect, and if you can’t be there in person, technology is the next best thing…   🙂

  8. I´d learned the hard way that my bucket is full of busyness and distractions. So to really create room for God and my family I urgently scooped out urgency to reconnect with what really matters and is eternal.

  9. Wondering if I could get permission to re-post this on the http://www.mobileadvance.org website?  Our ministry is about the use of mobile phone technology for ministry but we need to promote right attachment/detachment to mobile as well and would love to get this up before father’s day if possible. Reply to keith at mobileadvance.org  Thanks

  10. Yes, an excellent idea for us dad’s. But it really applies to ALL! Nothing more disturbing than family and co-workers calling, text messaging or emailing you from the next room.

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