Disclaimer: I am not in any way saying phones are solely bad. They’re actually very good and extremely useful when used responsibly. However, there are many reasons phones are dangerous and addictive and that’s mostly what I will be addressing today.
Technology is incredible, isn’t it? Do you think people a hundred years ago would have ever expected technology to be like it is today? I mean, I’m only 21 and yet I never would have imagined smartphones to exist. A mini computer, professional camera, phone, messaging, notes, photo albums, editing software, games, and more all within one small device that can fit in your pocket. It’s become so normal to me that my brain barely registers what I’m holding in my hand, but when I really stop to think about it… it’s pretty amazing.
Smartphones are so convenient and it’s way too easy to get carried away when we’re on them. We mean to pick it up to check the time but end up on Instagram, then there’s messages to reply to, emails to read, memes to laugh at, and before we know it what should have been a 2 second encounter with our phone turns into an hour.
They’re addictive. I know you’ve probably heard this a million times, but that’s just because it’s so true. Phones are designed to draw you in and create a chemical reaction in your brain that makes you want more and more. It’s why it becomes an addiction. It’s why you have withdrawals when you go with limited screen time for a day. It’s why you panic when your phone isn’t at your side. Phones are addictive in the same way drugs are. That’s why they’re so hard to give up.
Maybe you don’t have this addiction and if you don’t, you have no idea how proud I am of you. I applaud you. And I sincerely wish I could say the same. Unfortunately, I have all the symptoms of addiction when it comes to my phone.
I’ve tried phone breaks before. For a day, for a week, even for a month. I can’t tell you how difficult it was. I went crazy and I caught myself repeatedly picking up my phone to do something on it, but had to force myself to put it down. There were also times I cheated because I “needed” to go on.
Did I really need to, though? Looking back, pretty much everything I was using my phone for back then was unnecessary. Yet I would spend hours upon hours on it – much like I do now. Though these days I have much more solid reasons for being on my phone, I still spend a lot of unnecessary time on it.
As difficult as those phone breaks were, I did feel happier afterward and I was amazed by all the time I suddenly had.
Confession: I hate my phone.
When I was a young teen I watched as iPhones came into my family and I was jealous because my friends had them while I was stuck with my tiny phone with a slide up keyboard. I felt kinda lame and I couldn’t wait to get my own iThing (as they were called in my family). Before long, my parents allowed me to have an iPod Touch and I was ecstatic. Though I’d also seen how addictive they were in my family and I promised myself I wouldn’t be that way.
Did I keep that promise? Unfortunately, no. I quickly fell into the trap and that was the beginning of my addiction.
A big part of me wishes I hadn’t gotten that iPod Touch, but I was going to get a smartphone eventually anyway. Who’s to say I would have been any more responsible at age 16 than I was at age 13? It would have prolonged the inevitable.
Still, I’m thankful that it was some time before I got my iPod because during that time without it, I was observing how it changed those in my family and how it affected relationships. I witnessed the danger and addiction of it early on, so it was easy for me to recognize when I was falling into it. I was convicted enough to take breaks from it and it’s why I’m writing this article now. Because I see it and it deeply bothers me.
Smartphones are amazing, yes, but they are also dangerous.
Let’s look at some of the reasons why…
- They suck our time away. We spend a ridiculous amount of time on them every week. How much of that time is beneficial or productive? What tasks couldn’t you complete because of the time you wasted on your phone? Are you sure the problem is really that there isn’t enough time in the day? Or is it that you’re not using your time wisely? Whenever I limit my screen time or take a phone break I am always amazed by how much I can get done in my day and that I actually have time for hobbies such as reading a good book.
- They take us out of the moment. Which is ironic considering we are able to capture moments with the camera in our phones. Yet, have you noticed how disconnected we are from each other? We’re having small talk with someone next to us while staring at our screens. We aren’t hearing when someone is talking to us because we’re so busy reading something on our phone. We start laughing at a meme when someone is trying to connect with us. We’re watching moments of our life happen through a screen as we record it. Why is it harder for us to have conversations with each other? When did phones become more important than giving someone your undivided attention? What happened to sitting in a room together and just talking? Why is it so much harder for us to truly live in the moment?
Now, I know that phones are handy for staying in contact with friends online. Many people find their best friend or significant other in the online world, so it isn’t all bad. However, we shouldn’t allow this to make us completely neglect the relationships right in front of us. Nor should we allow “I’m introverted” or “I’m better at conversing online” to become an excuse to avoid social interaction. We were never meant to do life or relationships through a screen. Having face to face social interaction is crucial to living a happy life and developing the social skills we so desperately need. This is something I had to learn the hard way. I was satisfied with my friends through a screen and I didn’t realize just how desperately I needed friends in my “real life.” I barely knew how to function in a social gathering.
- They make us depressed. Ever wonder why people are more depressed and suicidal these days? A big factor in this is because of social media and phone addiction. On social media it’s so easy to begin comparing. Why didn’t my post get as many likes as theirs? I must not be as pretty as her. I got no comments, people must hate me. I only have a hundred followers and they have a thousand, I’m not cool. I get this, I’ve done the same thing. It feeds my insecurity and breeds depression. What also makes me depressed is how much time I spend on there. It’s so easy to just sit on the couch on your phone all day. It makes you feel like you have no life, no purpose. On top of that, bullies are very real in the world of social media. People are rude and attack each other. If that isn’t cause to make someone feel bad, I don’t know what is. Studies have shown that those who spend less time on social media are actually less depressed.
- They are hurting our brains. Stunting our creativity, giving us a shorter attention span, and making us far less patient. Not to mention how bad the blue light is for you or how much our vocabulary has changed.
For me, knowing all these things really makes me want to break my phone and go back to a tiny phone with a keyboard or, hey! Let’s write letters again! Imagine how different things were back in the letter writing days. People were so much more intentional.
All that to say, I want to change this. I want to break the addiction because, whether I want to admit it or not – my phone has become an idol in my life.
”Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.” 1 Corinthians 10:14
What if all the time I waste on my phone was replaced with Bible reading or praying or just doing *something* for God? Wouldn’t I have so much more joy? Wouldn’t I feel so much more fulfilled? I should be truly living my life and investing more in the lives of the people around me. I should be taking hold of every moment I have and using it for God’s glory.
”For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
If I want to be more like Christ, I have to be willing to let go of my idols, addictions, whatever you want to call it. He needs to be first.
Not just for myself, but also for my relationships with others. I need to be more present and intentional and that is not going to happen while I am glued to a screen.
I also need to do this for my future children. This is huge for me.
I don’t want to be the mom who has her phone out all the time.
I don’t want to be the mom taking tons of pictures and videos when playing with my kids. I don’t want my kids to have the example of a mother who is always on her phone. Because not only will this make them interested in the magic of smartphones too young, but also they’ll feel my disconnection from them. They will literally be jealous of the time I spend on my phone. I know this, because I used to be that way with my mom. Suddenly the attention she used to give to me felt like it was being replaced. I most certainly don’t want my kids to feel that way.
I also want to protect my kids’ health and promote their growth and creativity. I want them reading books and playing house and restaurant and making crafts.
I want all this not just because “phones are bad,” but because I want to protect them from the dangers of addiction, teach them how to be responsible, and to love God. It will be my job to teach them these things and be their example.
”Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Our choices and habits we are building now are the foundation for our future. That future isn’t just mine, but my future family’s. I have to be diligent in fighting this addiction to protect that.
I have to learn to use my time wisely now so I can carry a legacy that glorifies God.
If you’re in the same place as me, I guarantee you there is more to life than that screen. I guarantee you there is purpose in your life. You just have to be strong enough to put the phone down and live a life you can be proud of.
So let’s do it. Let’s activate an app block (I use one called Block that’s done wonders for me), put our phones down, and live.
In 3…2…1… now.
If you’re interested in learning more about smartphone addiction and how it links to depression, check out these links:
Please note that there have been a lot of studies on these topics and these are only a few of my favorite videos and articles I grabbed. There also may be mild language in some of the videos.
I encourage you to do your own research, as well. Just searching about phone addiction will bring up tons of articles, videos, and studies that will be super insightful.
- Is Social Media Contributing To Rising Teen Suicide Rate? (This may be disturbing considering it discusses some suicide stories of young teens)