WRITTEN BY Jim Glover
I see it all the time. It annoys me. It frustrates me. It saddens me. It scares me.
I see it when I’m counseling a couple whose marriage is hanging by a thread. In a pivotal moment—when they’re finally listening to each other, his cell phone goes off. I’m shouting to myself, “Don’t answer it! Just ignore it! You’re in the middle of something far more important!” But he picks up his phone and starts reading his text messages. He doesn’t seem to care that at this critical moment, he’s distracted and his response to his wife will be diminished.
I see it when I hear about a mom, picking her son up from school. She doesn’t see her son’s smile, as he climbs into the van, because she’s too busy reading the comments on her Facebook page to look up from her phone. She’s content to “miss the moment” because Facebook has her attention.
I see it when friends tell me that their kids spent their entire family vacation on their cell phones rather than interacting with the family. Online messages kept them from making memories with their family.
I see it when couples on a date barely talk to each other, because they’re too caught up doing stuff on their cell phones.
I see it when parents pay more attention to their Facebook pages than to their kids out on the ball field.
I see it when husbands and wives go to sleep and start their mornings focused on their cell phones rather than on each other. (By the way, studies have shown that 87% of people wake up and go to sleep with their smartphones!)
When it comes to our smart phones and the things we do with them every day, we need to recognize two things:
- We spend a lot of time on our cell phones. (Studies show that the average person touches, swipes, or taps his or her phone 2,617 times a day.)
- While smart phones can be a helpful tool, they can also be both a DISTRACTION and an ADDICTION.
Here are two quotes from an article, in the British newspaper, The Guardian, talking about the concerns programmers and app designers are having because they recognize that smart phones are both a DISTRACTION and an ADDICTION.
“There is growing concern that as well as addicting users, technology is contributing toward so-called “continuous partial attention”, severely limiting people’s ability to focus, and possibly lowering IQ. One recent studyshowed that the mere presence of smartphones damages cognitive capacity – even when the device is turned off. “Everyone is distracted,” Rosenstein says. “All of the time.””
“The same forces that led tech firms to hook users with design tricks, he says, also encourage those companies to depict the world in a way that makes for compulsive, irresistible viewing. “The attention economy incentivizes the design of technologies that grab our attention,” he says. “In so doing, it privileges our impulses over our intentions.””
As Christians who want to please God, we need to be sober and vigilant, watchful and careful, alert and on guard—so that so that we can do what God would have us to do in the moment.
Give life your full attention! (Deal with cell phone distractions)
Things happen when we’re distracted—we get sidetracked, we lose sight of what’s really important, we miss out on important moments in the lives of our children, we waste ministry opportunities, and we drift away from our faith and faithfulness to Christ.
Things DON’T happen when we’re distracted—we don’t look our kids in the eyes, we don’t kiss our spouses goodnight, we don’t give proper attention to what others are saying, we don’t serve others in love, we don’t share our lives.
As Christians, we must be alert and watchful, free from distractions that would keep us from doing what God would have us to do “in the moment.” Don’t let your cell phone keep you from fully living in the moment. Give life your full attention.
Live your life!
Have you noticed? Cell phone apps are designed in such a way as to become addictive. Apps give us the attention, information, excitement, and rewards that we crave. These apps make us feel good and meet felt needs in our lives.
It’s hard to put down your phone.
Because cell phone apps bring us feelings of satisfaction and joy, they drive us to our cell phones. Whenever we get bored, or stressed, or feel lonely—we reach for our cell phones, impulsively, without really thinking about it. It is an addiction.
So just like with any addiction, we can’t put our phones down because we can’t get enough and we’re never satisfied. And just like with any addiction, we don’t mean to sacrifice our families and ignore our responsibilities, but we do. We have good intentions, but our addiction to our cell phones gets in the way.
As Christians, we must be alert and watchful, free from any addiction that would keep us from doing what God would have us to do “in the moment.” Don’t let your cell phone keep you from fully living in the moment. Live your life!
The bottom line—yes I have a smart phone. Yes, I like to text and post on Facebook (pictures of my grandchildren and puns). But the next time my phone dings (txt alert) or chimes (email alert) or buzzzzzzes (incoming call), I will not just mindlessly reach for my phone. I will think about what I am doing, and who I am with, and I will intentionally live in the moment, to glorify God and serve others in love.
Jim is the Director of Pastoral Care at Wallen Baptist Church.