Scott Slayton – Why Time Away from Your Phone Would be Good for Your Soul

With the average American spending two hours a day on social media, an increasing number of voices argue that we need to learn how to step away for a while. Since the engineers at social media built their platforms to attract your attention, accomplishing this will take a lot more work than you might think. However, when you consider what time away from our devices will do for our spiritual lives, ministry fruitfulness, and emotional health, the pain of putting them down is absolutely worth it.

Here are five ways that putting down your phone will make your life more fruitful and more joyful.

More Time in God’s Word

I agree with Jen Wilkin that we are in the midst of a “biblical literacy crisis.” From reading some literature from the early 20th century, I’ve become convinced that the average person on the street in 1918 knew more about the Bible than most followers of Jesus do today. These things should not be this way.

To continue reading Scott Slayton’s article, click here.

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Marshall Segal – I Long to See You: What Apple Will Never Replace

Have smartphones and social media really done anything to strengthen your most important relationships?

Your experience may not be mine (I’m sure for many it’s not), but I’m finding our recent advances in technology have not made for more meaningful communication with my family and closest friends. If anything, they have siphoned off something of the urgency and intentionality out of those relationships — out of me in those relationships.

New technologies do offer amazing potential for those with the maturity, discipline, and love to use them well. Text messages enable us to use spare seconds to exchange notes and encourage each other. FaceTime allows us to see the person we’re talking to in real time, suddenly making a phone call more personal. And of course, smartphones and social media almost immediately widen our network of relationships, allowing us to “keep up” with many more old friends while constantly introducing us to new people.

But I suspect that while new technologies have made many new things possible and many old things easier, they have not translated into deeper, more intimate relationships like we might have expected. Has all of our technology made the whole world a little closer, but left us farther than ever from the ones we love most?

To continue reading Marshall Segal’s article, click here.

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Julie Masson – 4 Ways to Set Safe Parameters on Your Children’s Internet Devices

On December 25, kids and teenagers across the nation woke up to find they’d received their first iPhone, Kindle, tablet, or personal computer. Maybe you were one of the brave parents who decided to give a device to your child for Christmas. I hold no judgement for you, as I did the exact same thing last year for our then nine-year-old. My husband and I gave her a Nook because she’s an avid reader and takes after me in regards to an interest in “techy things.”

However, I do hope you were wise when you gave your child a device this Christmas. 2018 is here, and it’s likely this new year will bring even more technological change. Here are some basic steps you can take to make sure you are protecting your children during their time on a device.

1. Use monitoring apps or devices

I used the Circle with Disney device in our home last year to monitor all internet connected devices. The Circle actually looks like a white cube in the style of Apple products. It essentially acts as a barrier between the internet and any device. It controls what passes through to a device based on the settings you choose. I can block certain apps and select time limits on each device for each day of the week and for various apps. I can also “pause” the internet through Circle. Keep in mind that Circle only works for devices attached to your home wifi.

To continue reading Julie Masson’s article, click here.

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Nick Batzig – The Social Media Echo Chamber

Social media parlance and procedure are constantly evolving. Phraseology and expectations are mysteriously codified into the minds of the masses. In the social media echo chamber, parameters develop progressively and often imperceptibly. Paranoia and subtweets, expectations and ultimatums, flattery and bullying abound in the social media echo chamber. It is a messy world full of messy people.

From one point of view, the only difference between the Christian social media echo chamber and High School is that most of the influential figures on social media are in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Human nature being what it is, social behavior never changes. Surely there must be a way for us to regulate our engagement in the social media echo chamber.

Nearly four years ago, Kevin DeYoung wrote a post titled, “The Ten Commandments of Twitter.” What he set out in that post is as apropos today as it was then. I especially find the second and eighth points helpful in light of the nature of social media: “Thou shalt not assume the worst about the tweets of others;” and “Thou shalt not make public demands of complete strangers.” If we would all commit to keeping these two rules, life would be quite a bit easier for all of us in the echo chamber of social media.

To continue reading Nick Batzig’s article, click here.

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Dan Wooster – Artificial Intelligence: Better Than Human?

Modern advances in computers have taken artificial intelligence to stunning new levels. If computers can learn and think better than we can, will that threaten our humanity?

I still remember the day as a 10-year-old boy that I got my first calculator—with memory. I’ve loved computers ever since, creating things using logic. The very first program I created allowed me to play baseball against the computer. While the interface was pretty simple, it helped me understand how well machines follow exact instructions. How times have changed.

Back then we were inspired watching Rosie the Robot on The Jetsons and dreamed of computers that could one day do menial tasks like vacuuming the floor. With modern advances in computer power, algorithms, and innovative programming that imitates the nonlinear human brain, artificial intelligence (AI) has hit a whole new level.

To continue reading Dan Wooster’s article, click here.

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Tony Reinke – Should Teens Own Smartphones?

When Silicon Valley’s 20-something techno-prodigies were awing the world with new, shiny, unveilings of iPods and then iPhones and then iPads, many of the inventors didn’t have kids. Few had teens. Now, most of them have kids, and many have teens — teenagers addicted to gadgets their parents birthed into the world years ago.

This is the story of Tony Fadell, a former Senior VP at Apple, known as the grandfather of the iPod, and a key player on the early design team for the iPhone. On the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone in an interview, he made this admission: “I wake up in cold sweats every so often thinking, what did we bring to the world?”

Fadell, a father of three, has come to see the addictive power of the iPhone, an addiction that cannot be removed. “I know what happens when I take technology away from my kids. They literally feel like you’re tearing a piece of their person away from them — they get emotional about it, very emotional. They go through withdrawal for two to three days.”

“This self-absorbing culture is starting to [really stink],” Fadell said. “Parents didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know this was a thing they needed to teach because we didn’t know for ourselves. We all kind of got absorbed in it.”

Yes — we all got absorbed — techies and teens and parents. All of us. And now we’re trying to figure out how to wisely manage our devices.

To continue reading Tony Reinke’s article, click here.

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Brandon Smith – Writing Is a Terrible God

I heard a friend say recently, “I’m a writer. I would write even if no one read it.”

Since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be a writer. I had dreams of writing fiction novels, and then later in life, I hoped for a career as a sportswriter. For a few years, I even considered a career as an English professor. I now write Christian books, articles, blogs, and other public forms of writing. I don’t know if I totally agree with my friend — I enjoy the audience interaction and the craft of writing for someone — but certainly being a writer is part of who I am. I’ve been wired this way for as long as I can remember.

As with any passion, writing can become an idol. At times, I feel like I’m worthless if I haven’t written something—anything—for few days. I recently deleted my social media accounts, and my flesh told me that my writing career would be over because of it. I struggled initially with paralyzing fear that I’d never publish another word. Or at least that no one would ever read another word.

I am prone to allow writing to become my god. And it’s a terrible god.

To continue reading Brandon Smith’s post, click here.

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Nick Batzig – Game of Dethroning Sexual Sin

Yesterday, Kevin DeYoung kicked the proverbial hornet’s nest when he wrote a post titled, “I Don’t Understand Christians Watching Game of Thrones.” That post was swiftly met with a tirade of social media attacks, such as, “The Bible has many, many more violent and lewd scenes than Game of Thrones…know your Bible, Kevin,” “[you] shouldn’t expect consciences to be the same” and “Bad idea denouncing what you have no experience with…” Honestly, it was painful to read through the emotionally charged, biblically weak and grammatically poor responses to DeYoung’s encouragement for professing believers to pursue holiness in regard to what we set before our eyes on television.

Before saying anything else, I want to confess that, over the years, I have watched television shows and movies that I ought not to have watched–entertainment that I did not watch to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). While I have not watched Game of Thrones, I have watched a litany of other shows that are subject to similar criticisms as those raised by Piper and DeYoung. Those which I have watched have had enough sexual content and innuendos in them to fall into a category similar to that of Game of Thrones. While I have fast forwarded through as many of those scenes as I could whenever they appeared, I now confess that I should not have watched the show in the first place. I am no more like Christ and no more fruitful in the work of His Kingdom for having watched them. I have asked the Lord to forgive me for having watched things that I shouldn’t have watched and that I did not watch to His glory. I say this to confess my own sinfulness at the outset.

To continue reading Nick Batzig’s article, click here.

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Garrett Higbee – Counseling Parents about Smart Rules for Smartphones (And All Social Media)

Smartphones are everywhere and it is common to see very young kids playing on a tablet or to see older kids texting at every intersection. As counselors or parents, how do we navigate the inevitable conversations, develop reasonable rules, and lay down age-appropriate guidelines regarding smartphones? I hope to lay out some ways you can help those you counsel be smart about smartphones and other social media.

The use of tablets, the internet, and social media in general is an important topic for any parent. My wife Tammy and I have three kids: 17, 15, and 9 years old. We have been thinking through this for several years. We have made mistakes and found greater success as we adjusted our approach based on biblical principles through trial and error.

To continue reading Garrett Higbee’s article, click here.

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