I’ll admit that I’m on my phone a lot. Sitting in a waiting room? Hmm…I wonder what’s on Pinterest. Standing in line? That’s a great time for Facebook! Just sat down after getting dinner cleaned up? Let’s check e-mails! Those times don’t seem so bad, but sadly I am on my phone WAY more often than that, and my phone time creeps into my family time. It creeps into my friend time. It creeps into my church time, and sometimes even my quiet time!
Recently I spent a few weeks helping out with the youth group on Sunday mornings at our church. During my first week in the youth class, as the kids were transitioning from fellowship time to worship time, the youth minister (who happens to be my dad) wrote, “PUED” on the chalkboard with a big underline. The kids noticed it and started putting up their phones. I came to find out that this means “Put Up Electronic Devices”. I quickly slid my phone in my back pocket (because I had mine out just like the teens did) and joined in the worship. A couple of minutes into it though I got the itch, and I started wondering if I had a text from the nursery leader about my daughter. Then I wondered what the time was. It ended up being very hard for me to resist looking at my phone for even these fifteen minutes of worship!
I started to think about the times I’ve sat down in my own adult bible class and spent time browsing my phone instead of meeting the people around me. Or when a quick glance at my phone turned into a scroll down my Facebook newsfeed and then a search through Pinterest. It seemed that I needed the PUED reminder just as much as these kids did!
After church I talked to my husband about the PUED rule and how I was really surprised at how difficult it was for me to follow it. I started noticing that I was missing out on so much–play time with my daughter, conversation in the car, even just moments to reflect and hear God’s voice. Don’t get me wrong, I spend lots of time playing with my daughter, talking in the car with my husband, and in quiet moments with God, but I knew in my heart that I could do a better job of balancing my tech time with the rest of my life.
In the book of Ephesians Paul writes about how we can live as “Children of Light”.
“Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity…” (Ephesians 5:15-16, NIV)
What a task–to make the most of every opportunity. I pray for God to give me opportunities to show His love, but I wonder how many times he’s placed opportunities in my path that I’ve missed. My phone has so much on it that entertains me, but I don’t want to get so caught up in the entertainment that I’m distracted by the opportunities that He gives. Paul says we are to be very careful because it’s easy to lose focus. We must be intentional in looking for opportunities to shine God’s light to those around us–including our family!
So in our home we have started incorporating “PUED Rule” time. A time to step away from our phones and computers and just enjoy each other’s company. I’m also trying to apply the PUED rule during other times in my life like my bible studies and outings with friends.
It isn’t always easy. Sometimes the conversation has gaps and I really want to pull out my phone to keep my interest up. We live in a very fast-paced world, where it’s common to do three or four things at once. Focusing on just one conversation, person, or task for a time isn’t normal anymore. It’s especially not normal when our phone is in our hand. There is so much joy in the slowness though. There is time to think and really listen. There is time to enjoy, but we can’t fully do that when we are sidetracked by our phones. It takes work to put my phone down, but my reward is great.
Some practical actions that help me follow this rule are:
— Leaving my phone in the other room
— Leaving my phone at home if I’m going on a quick errand with my husband
— Keeping my phone on silent mode (unless I need to listen for a certain call or message)
— Designating time to spend on my electronics, rather than trying to give my attention to both people and devices!
— Allowing my husband to help me stay accountable. He is very good about reminding me when our family should be having PUED time!
My dad came up with the PUED acronym (Put Up Electronic Devices) to grab the kids’ attention. I love it though because an old definition of the word pue is to make a light whistling sound. Just a simple, carefree whistle. Isn’t that what can happen when we put down our phones? Things can be simple–as simple as a light whistling sound.
The PUED rule is helping me find balance in my life. Instead of being distracted by my phone all the time, I’m able to give my full attention to the people who matter the most to me. Sometimes we just need to put down our phones and enjoy life!
How does your family find balance with electronic devices?