We spend a lot of time looking at screens. One 2014 study revealed that between TVs, computers, smartphones, and tablets, the average American looks at screens over seven hours a day.
And it’s no wonder. With a mere swipe of a finger, screens serve as a gateway to so much: music, books, information, education, news, advice, community, and so much more.
- We can talk with loved ones face-to-face, even though they’re thousands of miles away.
- We can enjoy the creativity of people who would have otherwise never been on our radar (Zach King, Kid Snippets, and Lennon & Maisy, are a few examples for my family).
- We can find out the most up-to-date information on things happening all around the world. Or simply the quickest route to our destination considering current traffic.
It’s incredible, really. The digital revolution has changed and is changing the world around us in big and small ways.
From my perspective, what fuels the digital revolution is not primarily money or efficiency, but two of the deepest needs of the human heart: Identity and relationships.
We use screens in our search for an identity that is valued and affirmed by others. Being valued and affirmed is a basic need of us all, and our screens offer us numerous platforms to go after this.
And we use screens in our search for relationship. Not only in direct ways like texting, chatting, or FaceTiming with others, but also in more indirect ways like seeking to accumulate friends or followers, likes or comments.
More than asking if this is good or bad, I think we do well to ask another question: Are we finding what we’re looking for in our screens?
If we are, how can we help others do the same, particularly our kids or others we lead?
And if we’re not, how can we use the various screens in our lives differently to help us find what we’re after? And are there any ways we’re asking screens to do something they can’t?
The digital world isn’t going away. I for one am glad it’s not. I think it is a great servant. And I also know from both personal and professional experience, it makes a horrible master.
Paul’s words to the Corinthians come to mind for me here:
“Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial.”
“Everything is permissible but I will not be mastered by anything.”
“Everything is permissible but not all things edify.”
Beginning next Thursday, Regeneration is holding a 3-part series of 90 minute Parental Guidance Needed conferences on parenting in the digital age. On April 16, we’ll kick off the series by facilitating a conversation on Social Media, Identity, and Relationships.
I hope you’ll join us. (You can learn more about all three evenings and register here.)
Here’s an observation and a question: For 500 years, the word screen denoted something that served as a partition that provided division or protection (from light, heat, drafts, wind, insects, uninvited onlookers, etc.). What do you make of how we use the word today in relation to technology? Leave a comment below.
From my screen to yours,