After my blog post “Where’s Your Phone Right Now?” your comments made me feel better.
I’m not the only one who struggles with finding a balance with my phone.
We want to use our phones for good things only, but even at best, they can become time-drainers. And at worst, they are tools to say mean things, watch ugly things, and steal our hearts from God.
One suggestion you gave in the comments that day (thanks, Lynn Morrissey) was to read the new book by Tony Reinke, 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You.
I read it. I’m glad I did.
Here are quotes from 4 of the 12 ways our phones are changing us.
Addicted to Distraction
If you’re a typical American, you check your smartphone an average of every 4.3 minutes. That’s 81,500 times a year.
Facebook? 70% of people check it daily (over one billion others around the world do the same!). On Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram alone, we spend at least 50 minutes a day.
Why are we so addicted? Reinke suggests we use digital distractions to keep work away, keep people away, or keep thoughts of eternity away.
Ignore Flesh and Blood
While I often use my phone to connect with flesh and blood people, I don’t want it to replace in-person encounters. Given the choice, face-to-face beats digital.
“We become content to ‘LOL’ with our thumbs or to cry emoticon tears to express our sorrow because we cannot (and will not) take the time to genuinely invest ourselves in real tears of sorrow. We use our phones to multitask our emotions.”
And in the car? Let’s please stop checking our phones while driving. It’s killing us.
“Talking on the phone while driving a vehicle makes you four times more likely to get into an accident, but texting while driving makes your chance of a crash twenty-three times more likely.”
Lose Our Literacy
Reinke points out that a few people actually read more books as a result of online interactions. (He is also the author of Lit! A Christian Guide to Reading Books, one of my favorite books I read in 2012.)
But more commonly, smartphone users read fewer books now.
“It can be said that literacy has fallen to such a degree that, for many Christians today (perhaps most Christians today), the Bible stands as the oldest, longest, and most complicated book we will ever try to read on our own.”
Plus, reading digitally teaches us to scan at fast speeds. Can we train ourselves to read online text slower?
Fear of Missing Out
Do you know what nomophobia is? No-mobile-phone phobia. FOMO (fear of missing out) hits us on two sides: anxiety that we’re not staying updated on information if we’re not checking our phone, and insecurity of not getting the affirmation we want if we’re offline.
“This desire for personal affirmation is perhaps the smartphone’s strongest lure, and it is only amplified when we feel the sting of loneliness or suffering in our lives. At the first hint of discomfort, we instinctively grab our phones to medicate the pain with affirmation. This habit could not be more damaging.”
Along with the bad news, Reinke also gives lots of suggestions in the book for ways to live smarter with our smartphones. (He doesn’t say get rid of them altogether; he’s no technophobe.)
1. Turn off all nonessential push notifications.
2. Delete expired, nonessential, and time-wasting apps.
3. Use a real alarm clock, not your phone alarm, to keep the phone out of your hands in the morning.
4. Guard your morning disciplines and evening sleep patterns by using phone settings to mute notifications between one hour before bedtime to a time when you can reasonably expect to be finished with personal disciplines in the morning (9 p.m. to 7 a.m., for example).
5. Recognize that much of what you respond to quickly can wait. Respond at a later, more convenient time.
Ask Your Family
Are you brave enough to take this suggestion?
“Invite your spouse, your friends, and your family members to offer feedback on your phone habits (more than 70 percent of Christians in my survey said nobody else knew how much time they spent online).”
Our phone use affects others in more ways than we realize.
“If I’m a social-media junkie, my lack of self-control feeds the social-media addiction in you. And the more I text and tweet and Snapchat, the more I drag you and others into the digital vortex of reciprocating obligation. . . .
Even something as simple as pulling out your smartphone in a crowd is ‘the new yawn’—everyone else around you will feel the immediate pull and lure to check their own phones.”
I highly recommend this book. We all can benefit by periodically evaluating why we are using our phones.
“Apps can help me stay focused on my Bible reading plans and help me organize my prayer life, but no app can breathe life into my communion with God. . . .
What shall it profit a man if he gains all the latest digital devices and all of the techniques of touch-screen mastery but loses his own soul?”
* * *
How do you use your phone the most? Calls? Texts? Apps? Please share your thoughts here.
- Where Is Your Phone Right Now?
- Should You Get Off Facebook?
- Unfollow a Friend on Facebook to Keep a Friend
- Book: The Happiness Effect: How Social Media is Driving a Generation to Appear Perfect at Any Cost by Donna Freitas
My thanks to Crossway
for the review copy of this book
- Don’t Take This Personally
- When You’re Anxious about Praying – Book Review of “Flee, Be Silent, Pray”