Over the last decade, we have found many benefits of carrying a smartphone almost everywhere we go. We no longer need a camera, calculator, or flashlight as our phone has them all. We can answer emails from wherever we are, search our questions online, or read a manual for something we are working on. However, what have smartphone developments cost us over the last decade?
How many of us have fallen into the snares of pornography? Statistics show that a majority of males in North America regularly watch pornography. Are a majority of our young people secretly addicted to pornography? A pornography addiction does not just disappear when a young person gets married. How many of these addictions are now straining marriages? How many of these addictions have led to the hardening of the heart and a turning from the truth?
How many of us have become accustomed to the conveniences of social media? How has that social media use influenced us? Has exposure to a constant overload of worldly dress, lifestyle, music, and language influenced our lives and norms? Has the exposure to indecency on social media led some to pornography?
How many teenagers have developed anxiety or depression because of the constant notifications and online exposure to peer pressure and bullying? How many young people’s grades have suffered because they spent half the night on their smartphones? How many have lost their ability to read critically or have face-to-face conversations because of the habits built through social media?
How many parents have neglected their children because their smartphones are always active? In addition to work phone calls, do group WhatsApps, social media, or entertaining videos hold their attention instead of their children? How many parents can set strict rules for their teenagers’ cell phone use when they do not set a good example themselves?
How many phones are not put away on Sunday? How many of us have become so accustomed to constantly checking messages, the news, or anything else, that we also do it on Sundays? How can we pray for a Sabbath Day’s blessing when our cell phones have become central in our homes? How much time is wasted on our phones that could have been used to read a beneficial book?
There is a lot to consider about smartphones’ negative impacts on our lives. These questions are not meant to accuse you but to get you thinking. Have we allowed our desire for convenience to blur the lines of right and wrong? Is there a path back from where we are today? Should we, as parents or as a church community, be setting standard guidelines to try to return?
There are some absolutes. Every smartphone – child or adult – must have a filter and accountability partner. Cell phones must be put away as much as possible on Sundays. Families must set guidelines about cell phone use at the dinner table or other family activities. Some other items might be debatable. Should none of us be using social media because of the dangers it poses? Should children be limited from having smartphones until they are adults?
There may be some debate on those questions, but one thing is clear – we need to start building walls to protect ourselves and our children from the negative impacts that have crept into our lives! May we pray that the Lord will give us the wisdom to set boundaries and the patience to deal with some inconveniences that may result from these boundaries.