The changes in communication within my lifetime have been staggering.
As a young boy, we had rotary phones which we leased from the phone company. And we had a party line. If you picked up the phone, one of the other families sharing our line might be speaking on it. We would have to put down the phone and wait until the line cleared.
There were no cell phones. There was no internet and no email. There was no Zoom, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, or anything of the kind.
I think I bought my first cell phone around the year 2000. Before that they were very expensive. And they seemed unnecessary to me.
I did not get a phone that did texting until around 2015. It just did not seem that important to me.
Now I learn that cell phones are detrimental to children’s learning. They develop shorter attention spans. Teens spend an average of seven hours and twenty-two minutes on their phones each day. Tweens (ages 8-12) spend four hours and forty-four minutes a day hooked to their mobile devices. College students spend eight to ten hours a day on their phones.
The average adult American spends five hours, twenty-four minutes on their cell phone daily.
Many people do not read books or magazines. The only reading they do is on their cell phones, tablets, or laptops. A recent study showed that 57% of American adults have not read a book in the past year.
I hope that believers in Jesus Christ can buck those trends. Cell phones can be like the weeds in the third soil in the Parable of the Sower and the Four Soils. Remember that believers represented by the third soil “are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life” (Luke 8:14). The pleasures of life include cell phones. Mobile phones can choke our effectiveness if we spend hour upon hour texting, watching videos, talking, Skyping, Facebooking, and so forth.
We can use cell phones to the glory of God. They have tremendous potential for good. But in order to do so, we must use them wisely.
When I preach and ask people to follow along in their Bibles as I read a section of Scripture, I often see multiple people in the audience holding up their cell phones. They are reading the text on their phones. I do not like this trend. It is hard to underline or highlight or jot notes on your phone screen. Please bring your actual Bible to church.
While there are sinful uses of cell phones, that is not the concern I am expressing. I am worried that even harmless uses of cell phones can be detrimental to our spiritual health. We need to figure out ways to keep our tweens and teens from not using their phones for hours each day. We need to figure out how to reduce our own time spent on these devices.
I found a few articles on how to limit cell phone use. Here is an article entitled, “How to Stop Checking Your Phone All the Time” at readdle.com. Wikihow.com has this article entitled “How to Beat an Addiction to Cell Phones.” Inc.com publishes this article entitled “7 Ways to Curb Your Smartphone Addiction Right Now.”
Some of their simple suggestions include deleting some of the apps that are gobbling up your time, going to settings and stopping many of the notifications you receive, stopping scrolling, and turning your phone to Grayscale. (Mark Gray in our office has been using Grayscale for years.)
If you have small children, you might want to delay getting them a cell phone until they are thirteen or older. You might want to teach them the right way to use a cell phone so that they never get addicted in the first place.
We put down fertilizer that kills weeds because weeds ruin a nice lawn. In the same way, we need to put down fertilizer that kills the weeds that can choke out our fruitfulness for Christ.