It is amazing how often we use the internet in our home. I had not realized just how much time was actually being drained from our family until this week. A temporary disruption in our internet service is common where we live. However, what I thought was just a quick outage turned into a week offline with challenges, blessings, and realizations.
At first, there was just a feeling of frustration. Since the kids had finished their schoolwork, they wanted to play Minecraft online. After a bit of complaining, they cleverly figured out that they could use our modem to play together offline. I went about my daily tasks as usual, but I must admit that I was a bit on edge. I wanted to check my email. I wanted to look something up. I wanted to go online!
As the week went on, a strange thing happened in our household. The free time usually spent online went to more reading, playing games, and enjoying lengthy conversations. I witnessed a child that is often irritable become more jovial. My own disposition became more relaxed and I found myself spending much more time than usual with my children and relishing every minute of it.
Questions began to surface in my mind. How much time were we actually spending online? How much of that time was actually productive? How much time was I losing each day that I could have been spending with my kids? Can spending less time online result in a happier home?
Since I want my children to become life-long learners, I encourage them to research projects and ideas as they arise. They often look online for solutions and explore topics. However, sometimes what should take a few minutes winds up taking much longer. Once online, there are too many distractions. A simple search becomes an hour-long activity. Honestly, the same thing happens to me. I tell myself that I’m just going to check my email and before I know it, I’m searching an online store for pants because my son has outgrown his and I just read an email about a sale. Time passes swiftly and silently until my stomach growls to remind me that I forgot about lunch.
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6 KJV) What am I teaching my children when I spend too much time online? How can we use the internet without letting the internet use us? I have realized that setting time limits for each of us is the solution. Instead of researching something the minute it pops into my head, I will write myself a note to do it during my “online time”. Of course, this won’t be easy. I suspect it may be more difficult for me than it is for the kids. However, after witnessing the transformation in our home this week, I am committed to making this change. I encourage you to try it, too.