By Fr. Daniel. Pinell
The way we spend our time, and most importantly, the way we spend our free time, tells us much about our society. The activities we engage in forms us. Each and every minute is an opportunity to be formed physically and spiritually. As its obvious to all of us, some of these activities can be either harmful or detrimental to our physical and spiritual health. And judging from studies made on the use our time, it is time to come to terms with the fact that we have a serious addiction to media.
US adults use media for an average of 12 hours and 9 minutes a day, according to a study by eMarketer. Out of these 12 hours and 9 minutes, 2 hours and 6 minutes are spent on social media. If we have 16 waking hours (if we take the recommended 8 hours for sleep, of course), and 12 of those 16 are spent on media by our collective minds, then that only leaves a meager 4 hours (more accurately, 3 hours and 51 minutes) for other activities, like eating, commuting, time with friends and families, and prayer. If activities are ultimately forming us, what is a diet of 12 hours and 9 minutes spend on media produce in us?
I believe that as Christians we have an important opportunity to lead a way, to show a different way of living, one that is formed by the life and works of Jesus Christ and empowered by His Holy Spirit. The Spiritual Practice of Disconnecting will help us in this endeavor.
Here are 3 ways we can get started:
1. Take a weekly media sabbath. Disconnect for one day of the week. No social media or TV. No internet usage, unless they are being used to connect you to spiritual resources. Use this time to focus on the Lord in prayer, and spend it with friends and family. This practice may be a burden at the beginning, but with time I believe it will become a cherished tradition!
2. Monitor social media and other apps usage. iPhone and Android phones now include an app that monitors your smartphone use. Both iPhones and Android phones allow you to put limits on your screen time for yourself and your children. You can also check your daily average, how often you pick up your phone, and the amount of time spent on each app. Check out this article to learn how to set healthy screen time habits for parents.
3. Plan your media time. A moderate use of entertainment can be healthy. We all need time to disconnect mentally and rest. Media can serve this purpose if it is planned. It is so easy to turn on the TV or pick up our smartphones out of habit. It is an easy distraction, a background noise that many of us do without thinking, like a knee-jerk reaction. To avoid this, plan your media time. Decide ahead how long you will use media, and what specific kind of media you will use. Media will no longer be a distraction, but something that you plan and use in moderation.