My prayer is that my children will become all that God has created them to be. I wholeheartedly believe and trust that. But for all my praying and Bible verse sharing with them, I’ve realized the one thing that keeps their doubt to that alive is: their phone. And not the phone per say, but the social media apps they cling so strongly too.
During the school year, our rule is phones off at 8pm Sun-Thurs and 10pm Fri-Sat. We heavily enforced that. But even during those times, I felt like they became so consumed with it, that I literally snatched it out their hands, like what is holding your attention so strongly. The sight of them being oblivious to real life gets on my nerves! I mean don’t get me wrong, it’s cool to text, snapchat and retweet, but too much is a problem. They, like all the other teenagers in the world, are so impacted by social media, they don’t even realize it.
Social media is like a toxic mirror that creates insecurity and anxiety. It causes teenagers to live in a constant state of comparison and inadequacy. So & so got their license, but I don’t have mine. So & so’s parents got them a new car, but you bought me this old one. So & so got an offer to go to this college, but I didn’t get one, so maybe I’m not as good. So & so is dating this person and they went wherever together, but I can’t even have a girlfriend. So & so went here, why can’t I go there. On and on and on.
While every bit of me wants to say I don’t give a damn what so & so is doing, I’m quickly reminded that I was once a teenager. I once lived in comparison to my friends and I still hear my Mom’s favorite response, “if so & so jumps off a bridge, you wanna jump off a bridge too?” In other words, don’t be so concerned with what everyone else is doing, you just need to be focused on what you’re doing. Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses!
As a mother of four teenage boys, it’s hard! Daily I’m building them up only to watch them slump back down after they become aware to what someone else is doing. I want what’s best for my kids, and it’s aggravating to see them with this anxiety that their life isn’t moving fast enough or isn’t good enough, in comparison to their friends. I know they believe that God is for them, but I also know in the back of their mind, they’re like well if He is for me, then why don’t I have this or that and the other. So to curb those thoughts of doubt, I’ve gotten rid of the source.
We are having a phone-free summer. Absolutely no phones for any reason. In fact, my husband went to Walmart and bought a flip-phone just for emergencies, lol! (Did y’all know they still sell flip phones? Hahaha!) But no smart phones mean no social media. And while this may be a temporary fix, it’s been an awesome experience!
For one, they have been playing together again. Like my four 6’3 sons and my daughter literally running around the house, laughing and screaming, playing hide-and-seek. They’ve been having nonstop video game tournaments with each other—without the need to pause every 5 minutes to take a selfie or to post a snap. They’ve been more concerned about themselves and what they need to do as individuals to get better. And they’ve been more mindful of their surroundings. Why? Because they don’t have any distractions. No social updates, no checking in, no trying to outdo everyone else, no pretending, no fakeness, nothing…no phones! I’ve seen more smiles than frowns of frustration and I’ve heard more excitement in their voices than words of defeat.
And now that I have their full attention, I can impart everything I need to, into them. To build up their spirit to be so strong, that they can see for themselves that life is more than just social media. That if they look closely to the life and opportunities they have, then they will see that God is still working with them and for them. A couple days ago, my husband’s college track coach shared with him the advice that he gives to his sons: “Stay in your lane, stay on your course, and stay on your knees.” And that ministered to me.
Stay in your lane = Don’t worry what someone else is doing.
Stay on your course = What’s for you is for you; stay focused on you.
Stay on your knees = Pray. God’s got a plan for you, that’s just for you.
As simple as that is, it’s so powerful! And it was confirmation to me and my husband that taking away their phones was a good move. I need my sons to regain their sense of self and purpose. Now they can focus all of their attention and resources on improving themselves spiritually, mentally, and physically.
We all have a purpose in life, and we can’t keep getting distracted by what everyone else is doing, otherwise we’ll remain stagnant and never achieve anything. As adults we can agree that sometimes we need a time out from life, well can’t the same be said for our teenagers? Maybe a phone-free summer is what your teenager needs too…
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11