We live on a cul-de-sac and the result has been that my girls have become bike fanatics. Training wheels came off at 3½ and now their goal is to ride as fast as you can EVERYWHERE! Off curbs, from the top of our driveway, around and around they go. As they’ve gotten older, they have begun to ride further from home. Originally, there was a light-post that they couldn’t go past. Now, as they’re a bit older, more confident and more car-aware, the end of the street is their limit. To ride past the boundary is to disobey.
We all need boundaries and limits in life. They help us live with wisdom and avoid foolishness. Many boundaries are set by our culture and sphere of life. You instinctively know what clothing is suitable for work, and that neither a kilt nor a sports-bra is one of them. You may remember riding seatbelt-free in the front of your Chevy Nova as a child, but now you dutifully buckle up your kids into their 18-point safety harness, until they’ve reached the age of 19, because that’s the law, or at least how it feels.
We live within boundaries – some are set for us by the world and some are of our own making. One area in which many people neglect to set boundaries is our digital consumption. Whether you take a digital sabbath or not, trust me that you need to unplug at night.
In marriage, it’s said that absence makes the heart grow fonder.
For technology at night, I’d say that absence makes bedtimes better.
Every night, before heading upstairs to bed, I walk to my desk and plug my iPhone in to charge overnight. I will not see it again until I come downstairs, after showering and dressing. Oftentimes, I choose to wait until after breakfast to retrieve it.
Why do I do this? Because I married my wife, not my phone. Because God gave me kids to raise, not to ignore. Because I’m called foremost to be engaged with my own walk with God, then my spouse, then my family, and much much further down the list is what the phone offers me.
So at nighttime, rather than be engaged and distracted by my phone, I can be free to pay attention to my wife. And in the morning, I can engage with God and think my own thoughts before email, texts, phone calls, the news and social media all clamor for me to engage with them instead. I’ve set boundaries in place to protect my own heart.
That’s my routine. Have you given thought to yours?
As our children get older, here are the boundaries we’re planning to set for them…
- Our home uses router-based filtering and their devices will be passcode locked from purchasing apps.
- No phones, tablets or computers go upstairs – where all the bedrooms are. I’m sure that, as they mature, we will tweak the day-time rules, but – at night – devices must be plugged in every night downstairs at a specified time.
- No televisions in bedrooms. (This is actually good practice for adults too!)
- No internet use before 7am. Your kids probably sleep in, but mine wake up quite early right now. They don’t need to start checking Facebook at 6am or to be posting pics to Instagram as they get ready for school.
Please think about what your digital house rules are. If you don’t have any, make some!
And consider whether you would be personally helped to live by them as well.