By Diana LéGere, Crosswalk.com
I forgot to bring my phone to work. As the sweat dripped down my temples, I became more restless. Despite my effort to trust God (Proverbs 3:5-6), I lost it. The predicament felt so near to being caught naked.
A hectic banter pursued in my brain as I pretended to adjust to a workday without a phone. Somehow, it felt wrong. No cell phone. I wondered if I would be “safe” to drive home without it?
The Lord reminded me, there was a day (in my adult life) when cell phones didn’t exist. A period when I happily embarked on 2-hour road trips with no phone for miles except the random pay telephone booths placed along the route. As risky as that may sound to a millennial, we older adults remember those past days when we collected quarters in our car for such emergencies. We survived. And everything changed—hello, instant message!
If you’re like me, you may have found there are good, bad, and ugly benefits of technology. The world at our fingertips is so convenient. High-quality technology ensures that few of us can permanently unplug. Yet, real dangers lurk that might warn us not to get too cozy with our smartphones.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/SIphotography
It’s Just a Phone, How Dangerous Can it Be?
According to addiction.com, those with a serious problem controlling the use of technology have Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). Whether it’s the Internet, smartphone, iPad, or obsession with social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, the symptoms are much the same:
You frequently check messages, repeatedly scroll through your feed on social media─ you’re glued to your smartphone, and feeling extreme anxiety without it.
Research by ZDNet says that the average American spends 5.4 hours a day on a technology device. Millennials spend 5.7 hours a day on their phones, and baby boomers spend 5 hours. Another study by RescueTime revealed that cell phone users check their phones up to 58 times a day. This increased use of technology is hurting our brains, bodies, and our relationships with those we love.
How often do we see families together, yet each disconnected and enthralled with their smartphones?
Technology abuse can lead to negative mood swings, lack of focus due to the constant distraction, and social withdrawal. The selfie craze has birthed a new generation of me-focused individuals.
But there’s more. Excessive screen time of as little as two hours a day is linked to elevated blood pressure, higher cholesterol, and weight gain.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Icons 8
Bait and Switch: the Goldfish Is a Shark!
Too often, another risk escapes our radar but has more influence on us than we realize. A valuable tool to enhance our lives can soon become a dangerous idol. (Psalm 106:36) That’s the way Satan works. He dangles that gold carrot and entices us with shallow benefits. He tells us how useful this desired item is...while stuffing the sinister dangers deep inside.
Hazard masquerading as an invited distraction will set us off course. And we know whatever catches our time and attention more than God is distracting us from our greatest good.
Technology, when handled smartly, can serve us with many advantages to make life a lot easier. But when used in an ungodly way, it can keep us busy and absorbed until we lose our focus on what matters. God’s highest good for us is to love God and love people. (Luke 10:27)
Yet when we’re slaves to our phones, we are far from loving and honoring those we love.
At our worst, we may even use social media as a sounding board, often saying things online we would never reveal to a person’s face.
Since good stewardship of our time and resources is a command, we’re called to manage our time in a God-honoring way. Tech addiction is often the mask that hides the sin of procrastination and idleness. We kid ourselves that if we are engaged, we aren’t idle. But being busy is not necessarily useful. (Ephesians 5:11)
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16
Is scrolling on our phones or surfing the net the best use of our time? Time lost is never found. We have a choice to use our time well, or we can waste our lives with meaningless activities. Even scrolling for hours on Christian sites could become a snare. We put ourselves at risk of becoming knowledge-collectors, and never put into practice the scripture nuggets that would grow our spiritual walk or allow us to witness to another.
If we say we don’t have time for wholesome activities, it’s true. We all have the same time. We can use it for what’s important or waste hours with TV viewing, scrolling on our phones, playing video games, or watching TikTok.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Wavebreakmedia
How Do We Stay Plugged in without Overdosing?
Smartphones have decreased our interaction with people. We plug in to stay connected, but in reality, we’re building walls.
We cherish friendships with nameless strangers while ignoring the people sitting across the table from us.
The more we increase our online social connection, the more we withdraw from our social circles. Those with tech addiction tendencies have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). Attempting to drop the phone cold turkey is likely to backfire. Here are five ways to unplug without withdrawal:
1. Schedule your phone usage. Whatever gets scheduled gets done. Just like cigarette smoking, you can kick the habit by increasing the intervals between phone checks.
2. Use monitoring apps to track your usage. Apps will help you to identify the times you use your phone most and help you identify any triggers. Sometimes just learning the truth is enough to help us step back.
3. Change your notification settings, so you aren’t tempted to check the phone each time a bell goes off. You may find it helpful to move tempting apps from your home page.
4. Buy an old-fashioned alarm clock for your bedside. Keep your phone in a drawer or another room to charge while your sleeping.
5. Avoid temptations to check messages at work by keeping your phone hidden during the workday.
One thing is for sure; technology is here to stay. The secret to beating tech addiction is to remain untainted by the lure that feeds our curiosity.
Prepare in advance a new normal for times when you have the sudden urge to grab your phone. Enjoy the benefits of your cell phone but set boundaries. Use it with purpose, and you’ll be less likely to fall into the trap of aimless consumption.
Recommended for You:
Photo Credit: GettyImages/МихаилРуденко
Diana LéGere is a Christian writer whose passion is to share her faith and life experience through her words and help other women do the same. She is the author of four books, most recent, Celebrations of Praise: 365 Ways to Fill Each Day with Meaningful Moments and the memoir journal, Ripples: A Memoir of Reflection.