Before we start, I want you to ask yourself two questions and then ponder them as you read.
Do you have any healthy boundaries set for your phone usage?
Is the unfiltered use of your smart phone taking away from the DEPTH of your relationship with your spouse, Jesus, or your friends?
In today’s blog post, I want to address something that weighs so heavily on the hearts of the Handleys. In society today, our addiction to our smartphones (and lack of realizing it) is increasing at a startling rate. This can inhibit the growth in our relationships and can ultimately create a wedge between you and your spouse/Jesus/friends if it isn’t taken seriously.
So I’ll ask you,
Are you married to your smartphone?
98% of us will say absolutely not. And you may have everything under control completely, which is great! (I, however, am not so good in this area.) But today I just want to open our hearts to the idea that we may be more dependent on our smartphones than we realize.
Deep in our hearts, we have a craving for stillness and peace. God designed us this way. If we look back in the Bible at Jesus while He was walking the earth, He purposely set aside time to be in the stillness and quiet. For a good reason — which we’ll get to soon. But instead of enjoying the stillness and peace in our lives, we have learned to replace it with noise. That noise being our Facebook feeds, Instagram Stories, text messages, emails, Netflix, and so much more. So now instead of craving that stillness and peace, our brains are constantly craving stimulation. It has taken multitasking to a whole new level.
We start to feel the need to do more, read more, post more, scroll more, buy more, share more, and then we forget how to just BE. We may be better at multitasking now, but this has caused us to compromise in other areas. One of those areas being relationships like our marriage, relationship with God, and friendships.
I want to challenge you to do something — If you have an iPhone, grab it, open it up and follow these steps:
Open Phone >> Settings >> Screen Time
Now take a look at the big bold number at the top. I’m ashamed to say, but a year ago, that number used to be between 5 and 6 hours. What’s even worse is the bar beneath it was 90% labeled “Social Networking.” AKA Facebook and Instagram. My number is significantly lower now that I eliminated social media and took a one year hiatus, which is so encouraging. But according to a recent study, I’m not the only millennial with this kind of issue. According to a recent survey done by OnePoll on behalf of CooperVision, Americans spend 42% of their waking hours in front of a screen. Which averages 6 hrs 43 minutes. Another staggering statistic in this study is that 58% of millennials feel anxious and irritated if they aren’t able to check their phone.
Feeling convicted?? Me too, friend, me too…
My conviction is rooted in the fact that before I used to spend ⅓ of my day on my phone, I was doing something else. Probably something else much more productive and something more meaningful. It was easier and more natural to carry on a conversation and invest in my relationships. I also like to think about what I could be doing with that time, rather than putting more distraction and noise into my brain. Our phone usage could be majorly contributing to the lack of strength in our relationships. What if I took even just one hour out of that time and gave it to Jesus? Invested in that relationship? What if I took twenty minutes out of that to plan a special date night for Ben & I or even just wrote a meaningful letter for Ben to read when he gets home from work?
Like I mentioned briefly earlier in this post, Jesus was intentional about being in the stillness & quiet. For good reason. To spend quality time with His Father. We can carry this principle over to our own relationships — we have to spend quality time in order to have quality relationships. Quality time doesn’t mean sitting together scrolling on your phone, texting other people, or working. Quality time is actually a HUGE component of feeling loved, and very much could be the primary love language of your spouse. (Take The Five Love Languages Quiz here)
The overarching issue with overusing our phones and having screen time through the roof is that it reduces our ability to be fully listening, engaged, and connected in our relationships. “Where we spend our time, is where we spend our love.”
We have to be willing to practice self-discipline in our phone use and relearn the beauty of quality time with the ones we love without some sort of distraction or stimulation. So next I’m going to offer up three boundaries we’ve created over in the Handley House to help us be consciously aware of our phone use and to put authentic relationships over “the scroll” everyday. I hope you’ll discuss these with your spouse and consider your phone usage as well!!
Our Three Healthy Boundaries for Phone Usage:
1. Leave your phone behind for certain activities.
Anytime Ben & I go on a date-night, a walk, a bike ride, or are at a friend’s house — we leave our phones either in the car or at home. It is a boundary we follow every time and it keeps us intentional in the quality time we’re spending together.
2. Set app usage limits on your device.
Recently, Apple created the “Phone Usage” portion in your settings and made the most AMAZING setting that came with it. It’s been an absolute game-changer for us. (Mostly me…) Most of the time if I am allowing my phone usage to get out of control, it’s because I’m scrolling on social medias like Facebook or Instagram. So we’ve both set up app limits on our phones for the apps that we feel suck us in and make it hard for us to have self-control. I have IG set to a five minute limit which gives enough time to approve a post and check on my comments and engage with my followers! You can even set a passcode so that you can only have your spouse or someone close to you to allow extra time if you need it. It’s the BEST feature! Here’s how:
Settings >> Screen Time >> App Limits (turn on) >> Add Limit >> select app/category you’re hoping to restrict!
3. Create a no device time in your daily routine.
This was a big one for us when we first got married, before the days of usage limits like I mentioned in boundary #2! While we were engaged, we both made the commitment to not have our phones or a TV in our bedroom so that we could focus solely on one another and intentional quality time together. This looks different for everyone. Our best friends have a no device time while they’re cooking and eating dinner together. It just takes the self-discipline to find that time and what works for you!