Almost all aspects of modern life involve technology, especially the small, rectangular devices we carry with us wherever we go. Smart phones are vital for quick and immediate contact with bosses, fellow employees, family, and friends.
Apps are designed to carry banking and credit card information, making financial transactions faster and easier. Mobile phones are also highly convenient, providing immediate entertainment at the slightest feeling of boredom.
The article “The Cost of Digital Addiction” by John Stonestreet and Kasey Leander states that as of 2020, an average adult spends eight hours a day on screens. Furthermore, a rising number of men are deciding to abandon the workforce to play video games instead.
Why this addiction to phones? The reason is due to the instant gratification given by the hormone dopamine. Psychiatrist Anna Lembke explains in the Wall Street Journal that dopamine is the rewarding brain chemical that makes us feel good when we do something enjoyable.
“Today, that powerful reward cycle is being hijacked by digital technology. Technology is designed to be addictive. With every tap, click, and like, our brain chemistry, which is supposed to spur us on to action, is instead keeping us on our phones,” write Stonestreet and Leander. The amazing physiological gift God gave to us is exploited for worldly gain instead of His glory and our benefit.
Frequently experiencing instant gratification can cause problems other than an unhealthy amount of time spent on our phones. By becoming used to not having to wait long to get what we want, we lose our work ethic and our ability to think and commit to long-term planning. “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty,” says Proverbs 21:5.
Ephesians 5:16 encourages us to use our time wisely to the glory of God during the limited number of days we have on earth: "making the best use of the time, because the days are evil."
This does not mean that Christians should get rid of smart phones and shun all screen time. Technology is a tool, and not all of the activities on our phones are destructive. We can learn to limit our time on these devices, however, so they don't become idols in our lives. We can delete apps we don’t need or place time limits on them. We can delete games that we subconsciously go to when there is a lull in surrounding activity.
In the morning, instead of immediately checking emails and texts, we can reach for the Bible and decide for God to be the first person we communicate with. We can decide to spend a few moments in prayer. A question we can use to test ourselves is “Am I reaching for God as much as I am reaching for my phone?”
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