Think about how often your phone is more than three feet away from you.
Our smartphones have become our best friend and our security blanket. They provide education, entertainment and escape. We are never lost or out of touch. We never have to be bored or uninformed. We need no dictionary, encyclopedia, newspaper, work planner, notebook, Bible, recipe book or TV when we have our smartphones.
The world is indeed at our fingertips and it’s glued to our hands. We are becoming a race of one-handed people.
However, there are issues with smartphones.
We are physically affected by our smartphones.
You’ve just got to read this recent article called “Have Smartphones Destroyed A Generation?”!! In it, a young teen reports that she spends so much time on her phone lying down, that her bed has an imprint of her body. Teens are living like hermits in their bedroom caves. Some positives coming out of this are that teen sex and drug use have been dramatically dropping since 2007 when the iPhone was released. There is also a concern about higher rates of brain cancer due to smartphones. How much time is your phone next to your head?
We are psychologically affected.
One of the greatest anxieties we suffer today is being out of wifi range. This has been described as “nomophobia” as in “no-mobile- phone phobia”. It’s also estimated that about six per cent of the world is addicted to the internet (gaming, porn and social media).
Most alarming of all, the more time people spend online, the more isolated they report feeling.
We see what people are doing and saying so there is a sense of being with others, but in fact we are alone. Even when we reach out for help online, the results seem to be negative. University of Oxford researchers are finding, paradoxically, that when at-risk young people access internet forums, there is an increased risk of self-harm and suicide.
We are shallow and distracted.
Our phones give us instant access to an overload of information and unlimited ways to amuse ourselves. We no longer process thoughts in book length but in blog length, and summarize our political discourse in 140 character long tweets. Our questions are not answered by detailed research or even debated by sustained conversation but googled to regurgitate someone else’s thoughts. We are losing our ability to think deeply, strategically or creatively.
On the spiritual side, our life questions and faith dilemmas, arising from dramatic changes in our societies, are going unanswered. On a personal level, we spend more time on facebook than facetime with God. We read Reddit more than we read our Bibles.
Our relationships are suffering.
If you’re married, be honest. Who do you reach for in bed….your spouse or your smartphone?
Parents, when you come home from work, do you check your Whatsapp or check for your kids?
Our affair with technology constantly tempts us to escape into gaming or even porn which feels more rewarding than investing in human relationships.
This can all be very disturbing but let me just say that I don’t want you to feel condemned. I face these very same issues in my own life and I am wrestling to get to a better place. My phone is right next to me as I write this and it’s a major struggle not to get distracted.
In fact, I just took this test called, “Are You In Love With Your Phone?”
My score brought up this response, “It is likely that you may have a problematic or compulsive phone use pattern. (If your score is over 8 you might consider seeing a psychologist, psychiatrist or psychotherapist who specializes in behavioural addictions for a consultation.) Now I am really disturbed.
So, being aware is the first step to a solution. In Part 2, I’ll be sharing some of the things I have been trying and I hope these suggestions help my fellow phone addicts.