Want Good Friendships? Unplug and Connect

By Marjorie Foerster Eddington

Would you like to have good, strong, lasting friendships? Then unplug and connect. Can you accept this challenge? Connection is what makes meaningful relationships possible. Studies show that screens are getting in the way of true connection. Keep reading. Your well-being depends upon this.

Connecting with others means listening to others, asking them questions, caring about them. It means spending time with them, talking, looking at each other while talking, playing, dreaming, going on adventures, working, thinking, solving problems. It means being there, encouraging, crying, hugging, holding, helping, serving. It means seeking to understand, being empathetic, seeing things from another's point of view, having compassion.

It means practicing the Golden Rule. “Do unto others…” It means following the two great commandments the way Jesus summarized them: Love God with everything you’ve got, and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30, 31). Then he added another one: Love others the way I love you (John 13:34).

None of this, by the way, can be accomplished with a screen. And this isn’t just opinion. Countless studies; well-known and respected children psychologists, counselors, therapists; best-selling family-focused authors; even, ironically, TV news show hosts explain how screens get in the way of real connection and are ruining human relationships and lives.

Screens/screen time:

  • Inhibits, even decreases a person’s ability to learn how to problem-solve and connect with others, leading to more fights.
  • Affects the brain in similar ways that drugs and alcohol do. (One such study was done on those who do 20+ hours of video a week.)
  • Causes sleep deprivation.
  • Induces stress reactions.
  • Creates sensory overload.
  • Ruins focus, which tends to intensify anger.
  • And more!

Screens include phones, iPads, computers, TV—social media, texting, gaming, and surfing the web. Screens, for the most part, are tools, and like tools, they can be used for good or bad. Instagram can spread lies, create gossip, and show horrible pictures. Facebook, which is an easy way to share information, is also just a 2-D way of keeping in touch (not connecting) with others. Then, there are those who use technology to bully others without showing their face—incredibly cowardly and devastating.

This does not mean we can’t have technology in our lives. It means if we want to have meaningful connections in our lives, we have to turn off the screens to connect.

  • Turn it off when you’re with your friends so you can talk with them rather than text other friends who aren’t there.
  • Turn it off when you’re with your family and find out what’s important to them.
  • Turn it off when you’re bored and do something creative instead.
  • Turn it off to learn about real life rather than screen fiction, doctored reality.

And if you look at turning off screens as an act of love, then it may be easier. You are loving yourself and others when you switch your focus from a screen to a human being. And that is more Godlike because God is Love.

Read more on this subject—a challenge for adults and parents.