After seeing Brad Huddleston (author of Digital Cocaine: A Journey Toward iBalance) speak at a parenting seminar, I have been much more aware of technology’s grasp on my mind. Specifically, I started noticing how my smartphone actually dictated and controlled much of my non-digital activity. For example, I was having trouble sleeping some days. I realized that my trouble sleeping was directly related to how much time I had spent on my phone that evening.
Earlier this year, Janelle and I spoke to the MOPS group at church about this topic (among other things). I have heard from a few families that they have nixed the screen for their kids and seen amazing transformations.
So in May, I decided to go dumb. I ditched my smartphone for a dumbphone. I am actually the youngest people who can remember pre-cell phone days, let alone pre-smartphone days. I got my first cell phone in college. Texting actually didn’t become “a thing” until I was out of college. So, it was a bit easier for me to remember that phones can actually be used for only phone calls. But in an effort to still “be in the world but not of it” I chose a phone and phone plan that still allows me to text. I also got a little bit of data because apparently, that is needed to get pictures through text.
Here is what I have noticed of the past month…
I paid $9 for my cell phone service last month. How much are you paying?
When I get home, I put my phone down on the counter and do the craziest thing: I pay attention to my wife and kids.
I forgot that Facebook exists. (Check out the “Facebook Eradicator” extension for Chrome and Firefox if you still must use the platform for work. I use it. It is awesome.)
I read my Bible, the actual paper one, more than I used to. But don’t get me wrong, it is nice to have those search functions on your phone. But when I need it, I use a computer for that.
I take fewer pictures…and no one cares…Including me. For some reason, we think that we must have every second of our lives recorded. In reality, God gave us a pretty decent way to remember things. It’s called “your memory”. When my son won his archery tournament in June (shameless dad brag), I was standing there cheering for him, watching him with my own eyes instead of viewing him on my screen trying to keep him in frame.
The people who really “need” me still get in touch with me. My men’s group. My family. My close friends. I haven’t missed a beat with them. My smartphone was not helping me connect with the people God has placed in my life to be a part of my ministry and discipleship. All the smartphone did was add to the social noise and distracted from actually ministering and being discipled.
It is okay to check/return work emails only at work. If you need me right away, call me.
My phone doesn’t do emojis. So I get lots of little squares every time someone uses them. But that’s okay. I just assume their response is the one I wanted.
That’s quite a bit to uncover in a month. I still connect with a few people on Facebook Messenger (on my computer). I have a fitness group and a worship leader group that I check in with from time to time on Facebook (on my computer). But I have found that even those are much fewer than when I had a smartphone.
There is a great book by Tony Reinke entitled 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You. (There may even be a copy in the church library.) Read it. This is not just a “teenager issue”. Scripture encourages us to not be drunk because it is the Spirit that should be controlling us and not something else (Ephesians 5:18). Many people have no problem abstaining from alcohol for this reason. I would encourage you to take some time to see if something else, like your phone, is actually controlling or dictating your life choices. It was for me.