Earlier this year heavy rain and flooding in the city of Lake Macquarie (NSW) left hundreds of residents without electricity. While some were understandably upset by the lack of hot water and functioning kitchen appliances, a lot of people also expressed their appreciation at the opportunity to detach from technology.
No television, no emails, no Facebook . . . no worries.
The blackout prompted many families to spend more time together. Some sat in the living room and talked, while others played board games by candlelight.
One has to wonder why it takes a blackout in order for us to put away our screens. After all, what’s more important—time with family or time on Facebook?
It’s for this reason the South Pacific Division’s Children’s Ministries department is encouraging people to take up the “Screen Free Challenge”, which will coincide with the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Week of Prayer (September 5-12). It’s a challenge that will not only help you better connect with God and your family, but also emphasise the growing need for disconnecting from our time-consuming devices.
A GlobalWebIndex study in late 2014 found that the average person spends 6.15 hours on the internet every day, with 1.72 hours of that time dedicated to social networks.1 That figure doesn’t even take into account the three-plus hours we spend on average watching television per day.2
That’s a lot of screen time—and a habit we’ve passed onto our children. “On average [in Australia], Year 3 students had around three hours of screen time per day; by Year 9 this increased to four hours for boys and six hours for girls.”3
Hence the need for the Screen Free Challenge: “We accept the challenge to put down our phones, turn off the iPad, TV and computer at home to reduce screen time and do more together as a family. We will have screen free family worship and focus on making memories, building authentic, meaningful relationships with God and each other.”
This challenge shouldn’t be seen as a chore but a chance to refocus on what’s important.
If you’re worried about how to turn this “spare time” without screens into “time well spent”, here are a few simple ideas to get you started:
• Family meal times
Eating together without the distraction of screen media builds strong family bonds and provides time for conversation. It’s a great time to share stories or talk about the “God moments” of the day.
• Family devotionals
Finding time to worship God daily and making this a family ritual is important to faith development. Turn off your screens and commit to reading, praying, singing and talking. Your children need to build spiritual memories with you, not the characters on DVDs.
• Family service
What can you do together this week as a family to help and serve someone? Replace your normal screen time with making gifts for another family or visiting a friend in need.
• Get active together
Build both fitness and family togetherness by taking a walk or a bike ride together. Find things along the way that remind you of God’s goodness and power. For more ideas visithttp://children.adventist.org.au/screen-free-challenge or the SPD Children’s Ministries Facebook page.
So are you ready to take up the challenge? You may lose your screens for a week but you’ll make memories that last a lifetime.
- GlobalWebIndex, “Daily time spent on social networks rises to 1.72 hours”, 2015.https://www.globalwebindex.net/blog/daily-time-spent-on-social-networks-rises-to-1-72-hours.
- Nielsen, “King of screens: rise in devices attached to TV reinforces its position as household main screen”, 2014. http://www.nielsen.com/au/en/insights/news/2014/king-of-screens-rise-in-devices-attached-to-TV-reinforces-its-position-as-household-main-screen.html.