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Today, we’re joined by our friend Dave Adamson, who is a former TV sports reported from Australia. Dave serves as the social media pastor for North Point Community Church in Atlanta and is a social media expert. Dave and his wife Meg have three daughters.

Conversation with Dave

What does a social media pastor look like week to week?

It’s beyond social media. I deal with a lot of people who connect with our church digitally. People connect with your church before they connect in your church, and most of the time they do that through social media.

We want to make sure we have a great presence there, that we’re involved in the community and that we’re connecting people from social media to our other areas and hopefully eventually to our church.

That doesn’t sound like a real job, Dave.

It’s funny, since I took this job we’ve heard from other churches who have hired social media directors. It’s become a bit of a thing. Social media is everywhere; we’re all on it and connect with people that way.

In the U.S., church attendance is declining. But I don’t say it’s declining; I say it’s decentralizing. People don’t need to come to church anymore to get the content.

How does technology and social media impact our marriages?

Social media does impact, but it has the ability to be a wedge or to bring us together. I could use technology to contact my wife in a way I couldn’t when we were first married 20 years ago. But at the same time, when I come to bed at night and Meg’s been to bed for an hour and I see the glow from her side of the bed it doesn’t seem like a good thing.

Why isn’t it a good thing?

It can create a separation—instead of spending the end of the day talking we’re on social media and turn it off to go to sleep.

Do you feel that tension in your relationship with your spouse, especially toward the end of the day?

Or is that just part of your natural rhythm?

Afton: We actually started charging our phones in a different room when we go to bed. We actually started it to help us sleep better, but it does help relationally because you talk when you go to bed.

Ted: We have three teenagers, and we can’t be on ours all the time if we’re telling them not to be. So there’s the accountability there. We’re pretty conscious about it. 

Dave: We have a rule in our house that all phones get turned off at 8pm and all phones get charged in our room. We used to charge them in the kitchen but we found one of our daughters would get up and go find it at night. This also means that we, the parents, have access to your phones.

The second rule is that every device in our house is on the same password, so I can open up their phones and scroll through it. But they can also do it to us. We also have a rule that Friday night till Saturday night is a device free zone in our house.

What would you say to the couple that doesn’t think they have an issue?

How might social media be impacting them without them realizing it?

There are positives and negatives to it. The device/social media itself isn’t the enemy. There’s a stat that says the average American touches their phone 300 times a day. I always think to myself – how would my relationship with my wife be different if I held her hand or stroked her hair 300 times a day?

It can be a negative thing but we can make it positive too. I even find with my daughters. I follow their Instagram accounts and it keeps me connected with what’s going on.

How does awareness help us control the impact technology has on our marriage?

Once you make that switch and start to use technology for good, it actually means more.

There’s a book by Reggie Campbell called What Radical Husbands Do and he says that for the first five minutes when you get home, stay five feet from your wife. I’m usually walking in ending a phone call or reading/posting something.

Now, I will park around the corner, finish my phone call and then put my phone in my bag and drive in. I try to spend that first five minutes with her and then with my girls.

How have you used technology to make your relationship better?

Afton: We have one Spotify account, so when Hudson is listening to it I like to get on my phone and steal it so he can’t listen anymore.

Dave: That’s a good point, because we have one Audible account and we often read the same books now.

CJ: We like to try to go an entire day only texting each other GIFs to talk about our day. It’s entertaining.

Ted: Texting is a great thing for us during the day. I love the fact that we can connect that way

Dave: My wife travels with a missionary, and we use FaceTime to stay in touch. Another great way we use technology is we watch Netflix together and have regular family movie nights on Friday. Technology has done a lot to bring our family together.

What do you say to someone whose spouse is always glued to their phones and they’re having a hard time connecting with them?

I think it’s making people aware of certain statistics. That idea that we’re touching our phones 300 times a day or spending 2-2.5hrs/day on our phone. It’s the realizing of the time we’re wasting. Have some statistics so you’re ready to give them information that helps them make the decision.

What’s the payoff for people being on their phones all the time?

That’s a huge cultural and societal question more than anything else – we do it because everyone is, but it’s also how we stay in touch. As to the why, I think it’s partly the dopamine hit, part is marketing. We’re told we’re missing out if we don’t have this in our life.

I think it’s also because it’s a way to enhance relationships. I always look at it from the point of view of how many people I’m still in contact with from Australia because of technology. I’m also leveraging my social media as a tool to pass my faith on to my kids. I started writing out all my thoughts on Instagram in the form of devotionals. My daughters read them and they may or may not have heard it otherwise.

Do you have any closing thoughts for us, Dave?

It’s all about awareness—how often you are on the phone and not on the phone. How often you’re leveraging technology for good and how often it’s driving a wedge between you. I’ve found birthday and anniversary gifts for my wife from her Pinterest. It’s all about being aware and using it for a positive outcome and not letting it drive a wedge.

Your one simple thing for this week.

Go 24 hours without any phone – your whole family. Put them in a basket and put them away for the whole day.

Show Closing

Thanks for joining us for the Married People Podcast. We hope you’ll subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and leave a review. They help us make the podcast better.

We want to hear from you! Two things: first, let us know what you do on social media or technology to connect with your spouse and second, let us know how your 24-no-technology day goes.  Share with us on Facebook, Instagram or our site.

You can find more from Dave on his Instagram, website or his book – Chasing the Light. If you want more resources, check out Your Best Us.