Family Life Education - Volume II
I’m Just Killing Time
Lavonne Pappert, M.A., CFLE
April 21, 2020
I have heard it time and time again. Thank goodness we are in quarantine with wifi and Netflix. Can you imagine if we couldn’t game online or binge watch the latest series?
Certainly there is nothing sinful about gaming or spending a lazy afternoon watching a new show. However, as mental health care workers we are seeing a new trend. What was once simple fun, has actually become an addiction. How does that happen and are we really at risk?
Every single online activity, such as YouTube, Facebook, Fortnite or Minecraft, are designed to entice you.
Optimized algorithms are relentlessly studied by software engineers to keep you spending as much time on their site as possible. This allows the company to earn more money through advertising and upgrades. The average amount of screen time (television, laptop, phone or tablet) during this pandemic is over ten hours daily. What do we expect? Children are using Zoom to connect to teachers, parents still have to work, and who doesn’t love watching their favorite t.v. programs?
It is important to recognize that everyone is struggling with a new normal.
If we try to apply the same pre-pandemic mindsets of productivity, drive and business to our new environment, we will break down. Instead, we need to understand that it is okay to simply “be” and even embrace boredom. Let’s face it, there are only so many closets to clean, crafts we can make, and home projects to complete. For some, boredom might not be an issue as they find themselves working more hours through the pandemic. These individuals can be at risk if screens are always used to disengage, wind down and entertain. Mental breaks without screen time, increase productivity, replenish attention and even solidify memories.
When we embrace boredom, there is an automatic physiological reaction that ignites our imagination.
Pre-pandemic, we were immersed in sports, running kids, and managing schedules. The endless routine that scheduled every moment of our lives, kept us from being truly “still”. With the hustle bustle removed, we have opportunities to embrace this newfound stillness. Engage in bible study, work a large puzzle, or pull out old board games. Resist the temptation to automatically revert to screen use. Set a timer to remind yourself when you have surfed the internet or watched television long enough. You can also create a simple daily routine that limits screens and promotes time for physical and emotional wellness, especially engaging in prayer and devotions. Write out your routine and post it so you can visually be reminded.
Recognizing too much screen time is the first step.
Technology in and of itself is not bad. Utilizing it to always entertain, wind down, connect, and keep us from feeling real emotion (including boredom) can lead to trouble. Recognize when you might be using screen time as a crutch, and know that in the midst of Covid-19, all things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything (1Corinthians 6:12), which includes technology.
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