As stay-at-home and “social distancing” advisories continue during the COVID-19 pandemic, many have turned to technology to do business and conduct schooling and, of course, to enjoy entertainment media.
“Screen time,” as it has been called, is on the sharp rise. In recent years, reports showed that daily use of screens—whether smartphones, personal computers or other devices—accounted for some nine hours per day per individual, on average.
In this present crisis, that time is undoubtedly even higher. We are, it seems, in a boom time for screen time.
The overabundance of screen time has led to the runaway popularity of streaming shows like Netflix’s “The Tiger King.” On the other hand, we have seen completely positive developments, such as churches harnessing technology to bring people together who are otherwise scattered and isolated.
Once the COVID-19 pandemic passes, and our lives return back to normal, it will be interesting to see how much of the screen time goes back down and how much is here to stay.
For those of us prone toward a little too much screen time amid COVID-19, I recommend three things:
- Set up a filter
All of this screen time, for adults or children, opens us up to avenues of dangerous content, like pornography. I highly recommend a content filter for every man, woman and child who surfs the Internet. Two of the best content filters I have found are Covenant Eyes, which offers content filter and peer accountability, and the Qustodio App, which offers a content filter and powerful parental control options.
Jesus said, “What would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?” Inspired by our Master’s words, we can say, “What would it profit a person to gain the whole World Wide Web and lose his soul?” Sure, you will give up some web content with a filter, but that’s the price of purity.
- Set boundaries
One person on social media recently said, “Apple tells me my (iPhone) screen time is up. But I don’t have anything else to do, since I’m stuck at home.”
It has been only in the last 50 to 75 years that personal entertainment screens have been part of the human experience. People can and should find even better things to do with time than just passively watching screens.
Spend time in Scripture and prayer. Read a book. Take a walk. Call a friend. Write a poem. Take up a hobby. Let’s not use the pandemic as an excuse for having lives solely dedicated to screen time.
Christians can instead take stock of how much time we’re spending with our screens. To discover this, you could do your own calculations. You could get an app that tells you the time you spend. Or you could simply ask your spouse or your child or a trusted friend if you seem to be stuck behind a screen a great deal of the day.
- Redeem the time
It could be the dinner table. It could be a certain time of day. Pick a designated time each day to set your phone or other device down. Sure, you might miss a text message or call, but wouldn’t that be better than missing so much of life?
In the end, the rise of all this screen time is like any new technology trend that comes along. Technology brings with it convenience but also a need to regulate human behavior related to it. Whether you spend 10 hours a day sitting in front of a screen or not, nearly every one of us could do with less time in front of the screen and more time at the feet of the Savior. Both during this Coronavirus crisis and beyond.