iContact versus Eye Contact: The Advantage of a Screen-Balanced Home

I recently had a dad call me in despair. He told me he caught his middle-school-aged son viewing pornography. Just as he started to set limits, his son began physically attacking him, distraught that his dad would “invade his privacy.”

I had another dad call me about his teenage daughter who was sending over 6,000 text messages a month and whose grades were beginning to decline. Worried about her, he began setting limits only to find a note shortly after, describing how much she hated her parents and how she couldn’t wait to one day move in with her boyfriend—a guy he’d never met.

Our marriages are not immune. I recently sat down with a couple, only married for a few years, who were growing more disconnected. After putting their kids down, both went their separate ways—him to his computer, her to her phone.

I feel like he’s married to his work,” the wife complained.

Well, I need something. I feel like you’re married to Pinterest,” the husband rebutted.

These are the psychological drugs of the 21st century.

Drugs we’re all taking.

Drugs more socially acceptable than any before them.

Drugs, slowly but surely, disconnecting us from one another in unprecedented ways.

The only inoculation to this plague of disconnection are conscientious and involved families.

Families who understand that:

●  iContact, when respected, can be used to build new and stronger connections with others

●  When not respected, iContact is equally as destructive and disconnecting

●  There is no substitution for face-to-face eye contact on brain and relationship development

●  iContact is for broadening our connections; Eye contact is for deepening our connections

●  Empathy, or the ability to feel connected with others in their pain, is more easily developed through eye contact.

●  Self-centeredness is more easily developed through iContact.

Is Technology All Bad?

In 1908, the Model T Ford was the first automobile to be mass-produced. As cars became more popular and affordable, increasing numbers of people had them. But increasing numbers of people were also being injured or killed by them as well. As a result, in 1949, standard disc brakes were introduced. Ten years later, in 1959, three point seat belts were added too. Then came the padded dashboard, brake lights, rear lights, child safety seats, and now airbags.

Are cars bad for us? No. They get us from point A to point B. They enable us to connect with family and friends at further distances in faster times.

But without safety measures, they’re fatal.

The same could be said for technology in the emotional, relational, and spiritual lives of our families. The sad news is that no legislative body is looking out for your marriage or children. The ease of access to pornography online is evidence enough.

The only person looking out for your family is YOU.

My hope is that it doesn’t take 41 years for you to implement standard disc brakes on technology in your home.

Without safety measures, we’re seeing more families growing disconnected, where iContact trumps eye contact in the home.

The good news is that there’s a movement beginning where an increasing number of families are balancing the demands of technology in their homes—families who are valuing eye contact over iContact.

I had the privilege of speaking on this very topic a few weeks ago at New Hope Baptist Church in Fayetteville, GA. I wanted to share it with you this week to show you exactly how serious this is and the practical ways you—and your kids and teens—can begin putting on the brakes.

Click below for the video:

Joshua Straub, Ph.D. is an author, speaker, and president and co-founder of the Connextion Group, a company designed to empower parents and families. Josh speaks and writes on emotionally safe parents and spouses and the influence of technology on today's family. He is the author of the newly released Safe House: How Emotional Safety is the Key to Raising Kids Who Live, Love, and Lead Well (Waterbrook Multnomah) and along with his wife, Christi, is the producer and co-author of the video curriculum The Screen-Balanced Family: Six Secrets to a More Connected Family in the 21st CenturyHe wakes up each day striving to love others better beginning with his wife, Christi, and their son, Landon, and daughter, Kennedy.

For more encouragement and ideas on marriage and parenting in the 21st century, you can join Josh and a growing tribe of awesome families at www.joshuastraub.com and follow him on Twitter @joshuastraub or Facebook.