I’m sure I’m not the only parent who feels frustrated at so frequently hearing, “Just a second…” in response to an instruction to turn off the digital device and come to the table, get in the car, get out of the car, join a conversation, get ready for bed, etc. And frankly, I’m racking my brain trying to remember the last time “just a second” turned out to actually be only a second. What it really means is, “What I’m doing on this digital device is really more important to me than whatever ‘real life’ interruption you are trying to impose on me, and I’ll get to that as soon as I’m satisfied with what I’ve done here on my priority activity.” Right? Now, in our house, our son has learned that his mother and I both show no remorse at all about yanking said device away from him if he does not put it down or give it back. And he has also learned there may be bigger consequences whenever this dynamic becomes chronic, or is accompanied by an inappropriate attitude.
But I was thinking today about how often I tell my son or my wife, “Just a second…” because I am plugged into my own digital device doing something that is clearly oh, so important to me. How about you? How many precious hours and moments of real life relationships and experiences do we miss each week because we have our faces buried in screens so much? Do you have any screen-free zones in your family’s weekly rhythm? Is dinner time kept sacred from digital interruptions? Or maybe travel time together? Certain days or nights of the week, or even certain hours during the day or night? Maybe even a room or other place that is designated as screen-free? How powerful would it be to go on an outing with a spouse, child, or whole family, and purposefully leave the phones at home? Does the idea make you cringe just to hear it?
Let’s be intentional about showing the people we love that they are more important to us than the digital options clawing for our attention. Yes, there is a time for using our screens as tools for important work, for communication, and for enjoyable fun. But may we not sacrifice the hours of the lives of our loved ones on the electronic altar of “Just a second…”