Objective: To learn how to overcome the distraction and addiction of social media and mobile devices.
This week I was walking through Times Square on the way to my office when I noticed the number of people walking with each other but buried in their phones. I paused, sat down on a nearby concrete block, pulled out my notebook, and began to watch the hordes of people that would walk past me during the next ten minutes.
I was amazed that over ninety percent of the people appeared to be walking with someone but were not engaged with each other. Instead, they were focused on their digital devices. The thing that stood out most for me was the interaction a mom had with her daughter right in front of me. As the two walked toward me, I could tell the mother was upset and her daughter, probably fifteen or sixteen years old, was heads down in her phone ignoring her. The mom stopped in front of me, turned to her daughter, and began to yell at her for not paying attention to what they were doing.
According to statistical data, more and more people are becoming addicted to their devices and social media. We feel like something is missing when we leave our phone at home by accident.
Here are five questions to ask yourself about phone usage.
- How much time do you spend on your mobile apps and social media? If you don’t know the answer, each app tracks the time spent on it. You can access the data; the results might surprise you.
- How much time is there between when you wake up and when you first look at your phone?
- How many times a day do you check social media?
- How often do you post on social media?
- What notifications do you have turned on?
Asking these questions will help heighten your awareness of just how dominant social media is in your life. According to analytics released by Flurry, the average person spends a little over five hours a day on their mobile device, and more than two of those hours are on social media. That has increased over fifteen percent from 2015.
The Bible warns us of the dangers of distractions in I Corinthians 10:13.
This is a staggering number compared to the average time spent in prayer, reading the Bible, and doing Christian work, which hovers between five and forty-seven minutes a day, depending on the study you read. The Bible warns us of the dangers of distractions in I Corinthians 10:13.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13, NKJV).
Mobile devices and social media are not in themselves evil. They are like many other things in the world: they can be used for good or evil. Both things have allowed the church, ministry, and individual saints to witness and lead people to the Lord. We simply must be intentional and purposeful on how we use them. (See I Peter 5:8.)
(A version of this article was originally printed in Pentecostal Life.)