Media seems to be taking over our life! Our family was losing control over media and our ability to interact with each other. Summer also created lots of downtime for my kids’ and lots of time for them to play on their electronic devices. Not being able to get out during 2020 also put us into a heavy reliance on media. I was constantly checking social media. My son couldn’t stop playing games on his phone or watching YouTube. Most nights we would turn on something on the TV while each of us was playing with a separate electronic device. I knew that our family was heading down a path I didn’t like and wanted our family to have more interaction and time to do fun things together. Electronics were taking over our life and leaving us feeling empty and unfulfilled.
So we decided we needed a fast from electronics. Why a fast? I have found that when things are hard, we need to really fast and pray and things always get better! President Russell M, Nelson said, “The doctrine of fasting is ancient. It has been practiced by biblical heroes from the earliest days. Moses, David, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Isaiah, Daniel, Joel, and many others fasted and preached of fasting.8 Through Isaiah’s writings, the Lord said: “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free?”9The Apostle Paul admonished Saints in Corinth to “give yourselves to fasting and prayer.”10 The Savior Himself declared that certain things go “not out but by prayer and fasting.”11” Fasting has such a power to increase your prayers and really help those that are oppressed accomplish the impossible and be truly freed.
I would encourage you to take a minute and do a self-evaluation and for your family as well. If you notice any of these things happening to you consider going on a media/electronics fast. Decide how many consecutive days it will take to get control of it…3 days, a week, or a month.
- You check your phone every few seconds.
- You play games all day long.
- Every free second of down time is used on an electronic device.
- You use it as a way to numb your brain or as an escape from life.
- It is getting in the way of relationships.
- You miss seeing the faces of family members because they are always looking down.
- You have a constant reliance on social media or look at it multiple times throughout the day.
- It is the only thing you want to do.
- You spend time comparing your life to others’ lives you see.
- You have a FOMO by not seeing every single post or missing out on something.
- You waste too much time online or on your phone and can’t seem to be productive.
- You take multiple pictures to get the right one to post.
We had many of those issues in our home. My spouse and I decided it was time for a family weeklong fast from all electronics. No more TV, movies, games on the phone, computers, social media, or YouTube. The only electronics allowed in our home during the week were for work, Summer school, or church. I stopped posting and looking at any social media. The boys deleted all of the game apps on their phones so they wouldn’t be tempted to play. My daughter couldn’t read any books on her phone. We kept the TV off for the entire week.
There was a noticeable difference the first day of our fast. I came home from work and noticed that my kids were more chatty, happier, and much more productive. My daughter cleaned her room and started on a hobby she’d neglected. My son got lots of homework done. Instead of turning on the TV (total habit), we played games together as a family. We hadn’t played them together in a long time. My husband and I spent lots of needed time together. My kids went to bed earlier because we weren’t distracted with electronics. In the mornings, my kids actually got up earlier and didn’t sleep in.
After a few days, I noticed that I still had a desire to get on social media. My son really wanted to watch a show and didn’t understand why we were doing the media fast. I almost caved and gave up, but we kept at it! I noticed other changes. My quiet daughter laughed more and started to come out of her shell as we did meaningful things together. I felt more confident in myself and less anxiety about not being enough or having enough. My kids got out toys and hobbies that they hadn’t used in years. The best thing was that we seemed to have so much more time!
Last night was our first night back to media. We turned on the TV and returned to usual activities. I noticed a difference. It didn’t seem to satisfy like it used to. We all felt a difference. There are a few things I’ve learned about electronics in our home. The goal now is to plan it into the schedule not planning our schedule around them.
- Pick a day and time to watch TV and movies as well as what you will watch. Don’t just channel surf until you find something. Have a plan.
- Have less down time. Plan fun activities to do with your family. Dead time often turns into electronics time.
- Plan electronics times. What days and times will be allowed? Morning or evening? When will you check emails? When will you get on social media? Be specific about when it will happen.
- Take a self-assessment and a family assessment. Notice what is going on in your household. How often are media and electronics being used? Is it taking away from quality family time? Are you losing your ability to interact? What difference would it make in your home without it?
- How long and how often will you check your social media accounts? I still love to see all the fun things people are doing and the beautiful places they are going, but now I don’t have that nagging feeling to check it all the time.
- Put a time limit on your child’s phone or tablet.
- Encourage play dates or getting together with friends. Human interaction is so important! I encouraged my kids this week to reach out to a friend and do something together.
- Make sure the kids are getting enough exercise. Have them jump on a tramp, go for a bike ride, or take a walk in the evening, One of our Summer chores each day is to get 30′ of exercise. My kids decide what they will do-treadmill, bike, basketball, etc.
- Remember that just because all of you are in the same room watching TV or movies doesn’t mean you are bonding or that it is quality time. I found the opposite was true in our house. TV kind of turned us all off so we were close in proximity but lacked interaction.
- Be selective about which games you or the kids play on electronics. If you can’t stop playing it or wanting to play it, you should delete it. I had to do this with Candy Crush.
- Block, hide, unfriend people on social media that make you feel like you are not enough or that are negative or unkind. I was following a fashion expert and realized during my fast that I was fine with my fashion style until I started following her. Then I wanted to look like her and spend money on unneeded things. You have control of who you follow and what feeds you see. Fill your life with goodness and people that help you feel better about yourself.
- Fill your social media accounts with good things.
- Turn off all of your push notifications. You don’t need to be interrupted every time someone likes something or posts something.
My take aways from this electronics fast is that my family needed a break. It was taking over all of our lives and we needed a little reminder of who we are and the fun we could have without it. We are not perfect and still have more to work on! I would encourage you to try a media and electronics fast and to continue to do intermittent media fasts whenever you start to see electronics taking over your world. Let me know how it goes!