The research has been conducted, and the verdict is in—though we hardly needed research to tell us—we're hopelessly addicted to social media. Our digital devices are all adding to our mental clutter. So much so 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.
71% of people leave their mobile phones on when they go to bed.
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"? Have they "hidden" or "unfriended" you?
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:
That's right. On June 16, 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.
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 social media and e-mail one final time, turn off your mobile device and put it in another room—or the trunk of your car if you have to. 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 social media they see that those emails, texts and messages on your phone are more important than they are. They learn, and chances are, they'll eventually do the same thing with their own friends and family.
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.
So for 24 hours on Father's Day, at the very least, think about which connection is the most important.
Let's share the challenge: #disconnecttoreconnect.
Phil Cooke, is a filmmaker, media consultant and founder of Cooke Media Group in Los Angeles. His most recent book is The Way Back: How Christians Blew Our Credibility and How We Get It Back. Find out more at cookemediagroup.com.
This article originally appeared at philcooke.com.
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