My normal mode when writing for Connect is to write something inspirational, but this month I felt led to write about an issue that nearly every person and family is dealing with, our obsession or in some cases, addiction to cell phones. The National Safety Council says that 82% of Americans believe we have an addiction to our cell phones. These numbers should be of great concern and we must be aware that digital devices are impacting our children, families, marriages and society in profound ways, some are obvious, while others will be unknown for years. Digital addiction knows no boundaries; it respects neither rich or poor, educated or uneducated, age, ethnicity nor Christians or non-Christians. Our digital devices have silently seduced us into it grips of self-absorption and because we may be in the same room, office or car with children, family or co-worker, we have been deceived in believing we are connected and building relationships.
When psychologist asked children how they felt about their parents being on their phone an overwhelming majority disliked it. When asked to describe their feelings, they used the words sad, mad, angry and lonely. Some called their parents cell phone the “stupid phone” while others said that their parents phone gave them the sense that they (kids) were “boring.” Our current teenagers are called “screenagers” and millennials are referred to as the “always on” generation because many never turn off their devices. It will be years before we will know the full effect digital devices impact have had on their lives, families and society. It doesn’t take research to see the impact of cell phones on families. The family meal used to be the place of connection. Research has shown that families that ate just one meal together on a regular basis tended to have kids that avoided drugs and alcohol, were better students and had a better chance at success in life. Obviously, those statistics are now skewed. Go to any restaurant and look around. What you will observe at table after table is that where there used to be conversation, there are now faces buried in cell phones; sitting together but totally disconnected. Likewise, it is having a profound impact on marriages. The bedroom, which was once the safe place, the place for romance and intimacy, has become just another internet café or office to work from. One recent study
shows that there has been a strong decline in intimacy in many marriages. Research has concluded that much of it is due to the fact that the privacy and intimacy of the bedroom has been invaded by digital devices; that instead of spending time together in the evening, many couples end their night with thelast communication being a text, on a social media app or doing business work in bed. Studies are also showing that in many relationships the first thing people do in the morning, before showering and before having breakfast, is go for their cell phone. Without realizing it, we are sacrificing the most important relationships in our lives; our spouses, children and family, all in the name of being connected. Below are a few questions that psychologist said to ask to see if you are obsessed or addicted to your phone.
- Are you constantly checking any of the following: text, tweets, Facebook, Instagram, etc.
- Do you find yourself mindlessly passing time staring with your smartphone even though there might be other alternatives or more productive things to do?
- Do you find yourself putting smartphone request; text, email, social media ahead of meeting the needs of those closest to you?
- Do you seem to lose track of time and others when on your cell phone?
- Do you sleep with your smartphone on, under your pillow or next to your bed regularly?
- Do you find yourself viewing and answering texts, tweets, and emails at all hours of the day and night, even when it means interrupting other things or not being involved with others?
- Do you feel reluctant to be without your smartphone, even for a short time?
- When you leave the house, you always have your smartphone with you and you feel ill-at-ease or uncomfortable when you don’t have it.
- When you eat meals, is your cell phone always part of the table place setting?
- Is your cell phone the last thing you look at before going to sleep and the first thing you look at when getting up?
- When your phone rings, beeps, buzzes, do you feel an immediate and/or intense urge to check for texts, tweets, or emails, updates, etc.?
- Do you find yourself mindlessly checking your phone many times a day even when you know there is likely nothing new or important to see?
If you find yourself answering “yes” to many of these questions, please pray and ask God to help you take control of your device or devices. 1 Corinthians 6:12 says, “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” Take back your life, don’t be subtly mastered by your device. The most important people in your life are not those that you are connected to on social media or those who are texting or emailing. The most important people in your life is the spouse you said, “I do” too, the kids at your feet and sitting with you in the family room, those who are around your dinner table, riding in your car to practice or to the store. The most important message you can send every day is not the one from your cell phone but the message you send in your bedroom, the dinner table, family room or car. Put away the device, take back your family and take back your life!