My very first smartphone is arriving next Tuesday!
Being 19, quite a few people I know feel this is a long overdue event (not least my 7 year old violin students, who are definitely as excited as I am about it, if not more.)
I put off getting a smartphone previously because I didn't see the need for one in my life then. If I needed to text someone or was going out of the house I would just borrow my sister's phone (observe the benefits of having siblings.)
But perhaps partly I was also afraid of having to deal with the problem so many people talk about--becoming stuck to their phones, whether literally through their earpieces or just through the invisible force that made them gravitate to their phone every ten minutes.
Smartphone addiction is a huge problem for teens today!cry tons of concerned parents and adults. My kid is downright rude and antisocial...has problems studying because the phone is so distracting...plays games/loud music on it all day long...Candy Crush is going to brainwash the next generation...(well, not just the next generation. I see plenty of adults playing it as well.)
And the saddest part is that it's true. Smartphone addiction IS a huge problem today.
Let's face it. The problem with smartphone addiction is not the phone, but ourselves. Smartphones--and all gadgets out there--were designed simply and solely to please/serve us. It's not hard to see why it's so easy to prefer them to another human being, who, far from being created to please us, is usually much better and much more interested in pleasing him/herself.
Smartphones aren't necessary for happy lives. I hope this doesn't sound like a radical statement to you because that means I'd have to write another article.
Fine; most of us know that, in theory at least if not in practice.
But what do we do when we actually have a smartphone? How do we own a smartphone to the glory of God?
In view of...
my smartphone, I've been thinking much more seriously on this topic than I ever expected to. Because I realize that as a Christian, all aspects and areas of my life--even being a smartphone owner--should please God and glorify Him. (Whoa. I know, I'm still slowly realising the full impact of that statement.)
1. Smartphones should help us do more instead of less.
If we find that our phones are pulling us away from what we need to do--or that what we need to do is pulling us away from our phones--then our phones are becoming a hindrance to our lives, and not a help. Our phones shouldn't be competing for our attention with the rest of our life on the other side.
2. Smartphones should help us improve our relationships with people, not distance us from them.
This is supposedly the primary goal of social media, but ironically the truth is--as everyone admits now--it often has the opposite effect.
Smartphones should help us keep up our relationships with people when we can't be with them; but it should never replace people themselves.
Whatsapp, messaging, Skype, phonecalls, Facebook, Twitter, oh even Instagram I suppose, though that's more annoying than anything else to me--all these have their uses as well as abuses, don't get me wrong. But when pitted against the physical presence of someone, no social media--or gadget for that--should ever take priority. Remember--virtual relationships are only 2nd-best substitutes for the real thing, after all.
3. Smartphones should help us enjoy life more, instead of reducing our enjoyment of real life.
There is lots to take delight in and enjoy about a smartphone, and I don't want to lose sight of that. I'm happily looking forward to mine, remember? :)
But if we let this delight become the greatest delight in our lives, we're in trouble.
If our fingers are always itching for our phones to entertain and amuse us--
if we get bored easily without our phones--
if we find ourselves wanting to escape from life to go onto our phones--
if the first and only thing we want to do once we have a moment of free time is to go onto our phone--
...then we're in serious trouble. No virtual world is, and should be, better than the real world, the world full of meaning and beauty that God has given us. Candy Crush, though not a sin in itself, should not be the most exciting or satisfying thing in your life. (I personally believe it shouldn't even come close, simply because there is SO MUCH MORE out there.)
Besides these guidelines, we need to think too about our attitude towards our smartphones.
People are saying that as phones get smarter, people get dumber. This paradox is because we see our phones mainly as things which make our lives easier--not better. (Note: easier doesn't mean better.)
If smartphones only make our lives more convenient--easier to travel somewhere, for example--and more cushy--easier to be amused--what can we expect? Of course we're going to get lazier/dumber.
We adapt. And especially well when it's adapting to lowered standards. And once we do, it's doubly difficult to adapt to higher standards. Just as it's harder to make an Olympic sprinter out of a die-hard couch potato than a regular jogger.
But if we see smartphones (and all the cool gadgets out there) as empowering tools to help us do more, not just to do what we do more easily, smartphones can be God's gift to us, enabling us to lead fuller, truly 'better'--not just 'convenient'--lives.
a quiet voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
all images from Pinterest unless otherwise specified. thanks, Pinterest!