Recently, I was watching Girl Meets World. The main character Riley receives an assignment from her teacher (her Dad). The group she was in had to do the assignment without a cellphone, and without the internet. That left only one option: The Library. (Dun dun dun!)
So Riley and her crush were finally able to have a real conversation. Before that, they had only talked through text. By the end of the episode, her group found that real interaction was better. Riley even found herself liking the guy even more.
While cute and funny, this episode shows a big problem in our society. You can’t walk out into public without seeing multitudes of heads looking down at their phones. As a society, we have decided that we will die if we don’t check that Facebook status or tweet.
I admit I’m one of the worst offenders. Lately I've realized just how much I use my phone. I find myself getting irritated at how much I use it. I could get a lot more done by switching off my phone sometimes.
I’m sure we’ve all heard of the problems of constant phone use. Sara Thomee at the Gothenburg University of Sweden conducted such a study. She was a student who wanted to study the effect of constant cell phone and computer use on the minds of college students.
Her test subjects were computer science majors and medical students. She noted, “…intensive computer use…was a prospective risk for sleep disturbances in the men, and stress, sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression in women.” (Thomee, 65)
Also, “frequent mobile phone use was a prospective risk factor for reporting sleep disturbances in men, and sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression in women.” (Thomee, 65)
For a few days recently, I turned off my phone after breakfast. I didn't turn it back on until late at night. I noticed that it was easier to fall asleep and to focus.
I’m not saying that computers and phones are bad. Many people have received the Gospel because of them.The problem lies in the obsession of it all.
Lately I have left my phone at home when I go to worship or bible study. It is because I have often browsed before and after church, missing out on fellowship. When we are looking at our phones, we miss those opportunities to encourage one another.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
If our heart is not in the fellowship, we might as well be saying that we are “neglecting to meet together”. If our focus is on the phone in our hands, how can we grow and encourage each other as God commands?
I'm saddened when people use Facebook and text during worship and study.
You are there to worship and learn from our almighty Creator. If God were sitting in the worship assembly, would you be browsing on your phone? What if Jesus were to return in that moment? As Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
I think we all, myself included, should consider how much we use our phones. When we are online, do we use most of that time to encourage others? When we aren’t, do we take enough time for fellowship and good works? (Ephesians 5:15-16)
There’s so much life to live. Why waste so much of it staring mindlessly at a screen? (James 4:14)
Sara Thomee (2012) ICT Use and Mental Health in Young Adults [PDF]