Tony Reinke – 3 Reasons We’re Addicted to Digital Distraction

Yep, There’s An App for That

We check our smartphones about 81,500 times each year, or once every 4.3 minutes of our waking lives.

The impulse is not hard to understand. Our lives are consolidated on our phones: our calendars, our cameras, our pictures, our work, our workouts, our reading, our writing, our credit cards, our maps, our news, our weather, our email, our shopping — all of it can be managed with state-of-the-art apps in powerful little devices we carry everywhere. Even the GPS app on my phone, which guided me to a new coffee shop today, possesses thirty thousand times the processing speed of the seventy-pound onboard navigational computer that guided Apollo 11 to the surface of the moon.

It’s no wonder we habitually grab our phones first thing in the morning, not only to turn off our alarms, but also to check email and social media in a half-conscious state of sleep inertia before our groggy eyes can fully open. If the ever-expanding universe is humankind’s final horizon outward, our phones take us on a limitless voyage inward, and we restart the journey early every morning.

I am no stranger to this instinctive phone grab, but I wanted to see if others shared this pattern, so I surveyed eight thousand Christians about social media routines. More than half of the respondents (54 percent) admitted to checking a smartphone within minutes of waking. When asked whether they were more likely to check email and social media before or after spiritual disciplines on a typical morning, 73 percent said before. This reality is especially concerning if the morning is when we prepare our hearts spiritually for the day.

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Tony Reinke – 10 Things You Should Know about Your Smartphone

1. Your smartphone is not all bad.

My smartphone is my untiring personal assistant, my irreplaceable travel companion, and my lightning-fast connection to friends and family. VR screen. Gaming device. Ballast for daily life. My intelligent friend, my alert wingman, and my ever-ready collaborator.

2. Your smartphone is not all good.

Study after study has shown that too much time on our phones has profound effects on our physical health, including (but not limited to) inactivity and obesity, stress and anxiety, sleeplessness and restlessness, bad posture and sore necks, eye strain and headaches, and hypertension and stress-induced shallow breathing patterns.

The physical consequences of our unwise smartphone habits often go unnoticed, because in the matrix of the digital world, we simply lose a sense of our bodies, our posture, our breathing, and our heart rates.

3. Your smartphone amplifies your addiction to distractions.

We check our smartphones about 81,500 times each year, or once every 4.3 minutes of our waking lives. While our relationships with our phones may not be lifelong covenant relationships (though carrier contracts can feel like it), I would not be the first to suggest that owning a smartphone is similar to dating a high-maintenance, attention-starved partner.

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Jon Payne – Wise Technological Parenting

It is the apex of foolishness for parents to allow their children to have free and unaccountable access to technology– smart phones, tablets, iPods, computers, etc. Before I explain the reasons why I believe this, I want to make clear, in no uncertain terms, that I’m not a Luddite. I’m not against the advancement and use of modern technological devices. Indeed, I have no desire to go back to the sixteenth-century! Quite the contrary, I’m profoundly grateful for the seemingly endless and valuable functions of iPhones, iPads, and computers. It’s wonderful to be able to stay in touch with family and friends around the world through FaceTime and Skype, as well as through social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram. Even so, there is a dark and insidious side to our brave new world of information and connectivity; and, we would be exceedingly foolish to ignore it. Here are a few reasons why our children should not have free and unrestricted access to technological devices:

Internet Pornography. Internet porn is a pandemic of massive proportions. The statistics related to this wicked industry are staggering (see http://www.covenanteyes.com). The porn industry generates thirteen billion dollars of revenue each year in the United States alone. One in eight online searches is for pornography, and the same goes for one in five searches on mobile devices. Twenty-four percent of smart phone users admit to having pornographic material on their device. Fifty-six percent of divorce cases involve one spouse with a porn addiction.

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Michael Boling – Personal Application and Book Review: 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You

There can be no argument that our society is inundated with technology. As I write this, I am wearing an exercise monitor that automatically syncs with my phone. I am typing this on a laptop while watching a smart television. All of my vehicles have Bluetooth technology where at the touch of a button on the steering wheel I can say “call (insert name)” and I am driving and talking hands-free to someone perhaps all the way across the country. Want to listen to music? Access your phone. Want to read an e-book? No problem. Download one in mere seconds. Want to watch a movie? There is an app for that as well.

Technology is all around us, waiting to be utilized. As with anything in life, technology can be used for good and for evil and for many things that perhaps exist in the muddy middle. In a world full of social media and emojis, how do we navigate the technological surge that most assuredly will not abate anytime soon?

I recently finished reading a new book by Tony Reinke called “12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You”. Normally, upon completion of a book, I write a review sharing my thoughts on the merits of the author’s arguments. Because I believe the subject matter Reinke addresses is of the utmost importance, I want to share my thoughts on Reinke’s excellent effort in a slightly different manner than a “normal” book review. The issues addressed by Reinke hit home in a manner no other book on the subject of the use of technology has to date. We have a teenager in our home so should I say more? The answer is unequivocally “YES”!

A little bit of background as to why this is such an issue of importance in my own home. We are a family that has embraced technology. My wife, daughter, and I have the latest in cellular phone technology. We each have a tablet and a laptop. As noted before, our three vehicles are full of technological accoutrements. We Pinterest, Facebook, Tweet, and all number of other social media functions. No big deal, right? Everyone does that stuff these days.

The issue we have faced of late is what I believe the premise of Reinke’s work is all about, namely identifying the proper balance of technology. Reinke saliently states, “Unhealthy digital addictions flourish because we fail to see the consequences.” It is after all so easy to spend untold hours scrolling through Pinterest or even in the name of fighting the holy battle for the Kingdom of YHVH, hashing it out day and night on Facebook forums. Sharing the message of biblical truth is good. Addiction to social media at the expense of building healthy personal relationships – not so much.

Perhaps the most important issue other than the blatant neglect of personal relationships my family has been addressing is that of what Reinke aptly notes as the secret vices of social media. I mentioned earlier we have a teenager. For parents who may be oblivious to what is readily available at the fingertips of your children via their smartphone, let me clearly state it is not all righteousness. In fact, it is far from it. Since Reinke addresses this issue so well, let me share his thoughts on these secret vices. He states that technology “makes us think we can indulge in anonymous vices, even conceptually, without any future consequences. Anonymity is where sin flourishes, and anonymity is the most pervasive lie of the digital age. The clicks of our fingertips reveal the dark motives of our hearts, and ever sin – every double-tap and every click – will be accounted for.”

Stop and ponder on that for a moment. If that does not hit you in your gut then I want you to read Reinke’s statement at least 5 more times and let it sink in, especially if you have children with access to smartphone technology or other similar technology. It is very easy for children (and yes that includes teenagers) to scroll through Pinterest and share questionable pictures. It is amazingly easy to “stumble” across YouTube videos that contain lewd and disturbing material. A little chuckle here, a little that’s no big deal there and the seed of secret vices can become a not so secret habit as sharing questionable and no so questionable material then lures in others to begin or continue their own secret vices.

What is a parent to do? I do not recommend the ostrich head in the sand approach. Reinke deplores such a response, noting that falls under the do nothing strategy Satan is hoping we all employ. I do not suggest complete withdrawal from all things technology either. We live in a technology laden world. It is important for our children to be technologically savvy. After all, the job market will demand competency in this regard.

Parents need to come alongside their children to help them understand that while technology is not inherently evil, turning the corner towards improper addictions and behaviors is often just a few clicks away. It is vital for parents to be vigilant in providing accountability to their children. The specifics of what that accountability looks like may vary, but at a minimum, set in stone a regular review of your child’s online and smartphone activity. If necessary, employ readily available blocking apps and monitors. Help your child understand the purpose of these restrictions.

We have employed an electronics contract in our home whereupon we all agreed to the following list:

1) I agree to use devices only during the specified times with permission
2) I agree to put way devices at designated times, such as end of day, mealtimes, during schoolwork, church activities, etc.
3) I will remove myself and tell a parent or an adult immediately if something does not feel comfortable online.
4) I will not give out personal information including full name, passwords, addresses, or phone numbers to unknown individuals online.
5) I will not download apps without permission.
6) I will not lie or be dishonest about what I am doing on my phone because deceit could damage my trusting relationships.
7) I will not text, email, or say anything through this device that I would not say in person.
8) I will not take inappropriate pictures or post/share inappropriate pictures of myself and/or others.

Again, such a contract might look different for your family and situation. With that said, I recommend instituting such a contract with everyone in the home signing it. Place it in a prominent place. To do nothing as a parent to rein in and direct in a godly manner proper habits when it comes to technology is a recipe for disaster. Providing godly parenting is a must.

If you are struggling either personally or as a family with technology, I highly recommend Reinke’s book. It was a true godsend for our family at a time when we were in the midst of dealing with our own improper addictions to technology and heading off at the pass some bad habits that were beginning to form with our child’s smartphone habits. This is a book that strikes the perfect balance between recognizing the proper place of technology and noting as well how things can quickly go awry. I trust the personal approach to this review was helpful in identifying specific ways to utilize the truths provided by Reinke in this timely book.

This book is available for purchase from Crossway Books by clicking here.

I received this book for free from Crossway Books and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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David Murray – Three Approaches to Technology

Articles on the challenges of technology used to start with a long list of statistics proving the seriousness of the moral, spiritual, relational, and cognitive problems resulting from the digital revolution. I hardly need to waste ink or space on such matters now. Everyone knows by personal experience and observation how many and how massive the problems are. And the vast majority of Christians are concerned enough to want to do something about it. But what can we do?

No Technology

There are probably a few people left who are still trying the “no technology” approach. They say: “The dangers are too great; the consequences are too awful. Therefore, we’ll keep separate from the world by rejecting technology. We won’t buy it, and we will ban our children from using it, too.”

This approach is admirable and understandable, but impossible. Digital technology is so pervasive that trying to avoid it is like trying to avoid breathing. And even if we succeed in avoiding contamination, our children certainly won’t. They will find it, or it will find them. They will then be using it without our knowledge and without any training and teaching—probably the worst of all worlds.

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Randy Alcorn – Parents: It’s Time to Wake Up About Pornography, Sexting, and Your Children

texting

While speaking about sexual purity at my church several years ago, I told parents that if they’re going to let their children have unrestricted Internet access in the privacy of their own rooms, through computers, tablets, phones, or any other device they might as well buy thousands of pornographic magazines and stack them in their children’s closets and say, “Don’t ever look at those.” It amounts to the same thing.

After my message, a sincere Christian mother came up to me. She was offended by my warning to parents not to allow their children to have unmonitored Internet access.

“I can’t believe you said that,” she began. “My son has Internet access in his room, and I trust him! He’s a good boy.”

I told her, “I was once a seventh grade boy. I’ll tell you right now, you think you’re honoring your son by trusting him, but you are setting him up for a fall. You could hand him a gun, and his life might turn out better than if you just hand him over to the Internet.”

If this strikes you as an overstatement, you simply do not understand the devastating effects of pornography. The great majority of children, especially boys but also girls, who are allowed access to pornography will view it, either inadvertently or purposefully, and many of those will become addicted to it, ruining their lives and in many cases ruining their future marriages.

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Nick Batzig – Tuned in Parents on the Technological Frontier

get

I am a child of the technological frontier — the brave new world of exciting potential and seemingly limitless possibility. I learned how to type on a typewriter; but, how to spell on a Speak & Spell. As a young boy, I played video games on Commodore 64 and Atari. It wasn’t until I was about 12 or 13 that Nintendo became a household object. Our family had one small TV with a rabbit ear antenna. We didn’t have cable until the mid-90’s. I distinctly remember my mom being enamored with Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death and that she really didn’t like me watching the Simpsons or Ren & Stimpy (which I, incidentally, loved watching). I’ll never forget the day that my dad walked us into a computer store to buy our first home computer. I was around 10 or 11. The salesman tried to convince my dad that we would never need more than 256 MB of memory (we had absolutely no idea what that meant at the time, but now realize that he had no idea what he was talking about). Neighborhood friends had boxes full of floppy discs–on which they traded video games with each another. When I was 13, one of those friends showed me pornography for the first time on one of those discs. This brave new world of technology was becoming a frightening new world of evil breaking into our neighborhoods and homes. Now, fast-forward 30 years.

Computers, smart phones, video game consoles, held game systems and just about all other electronic devices give us instant access to everything the world has to offer. Our children will grow up in a world of virtual reality and interactive online communities. There are an estimated 4 million pornographic websites online. That number will only increase. What was once filled with shame and indignity is now celebrated and promoted at an alarming rate. Tragically, more and more children from Christian homes are being drawn to cutter websites and pagan forums — often unknown to their parents. Many are simply being secularized through the influence of their friends online. There is no way to know exactly how quickly things are moving or where it is all heading; but, if our parents were concerned about how to protect us from the worldly influences on the radio, videos, magazines and cable TV, how much more do Christian parents need to be informed, alert and vigilant in seeking to protect our children in this day of technological hyper speed!

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Tim Challies – Before the Birds and the Bees

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Somebody thinks I ought to begin my day with porn. On Sunday I opened my inbox early in the day and found an image of a naked woman waiting for me there — not exactly how I wanted to begin my Lord’s Day. It was in an email that looked perfectly fine, but when I clicked on it, well, there she was. A millisecond later the email was in the spam folder and that was that. A very similar email was in my inbox on Monday and again the day after, though these times I clicked the spam button without opening them. There was nothing today, so I assume the spam filter has now begun to do its job. But, sadly, this is not unusual on the Internet. With all the benefits that come through it, we also face certain unwanted drawbacks.

A few years ago, I wrote a book on technology and since then have traveled around the world to speak on the subject. I’ve spoken personally with hundreds of people and have heard from many more through email and social media. The stories I hear are chilling. I can’t tell how many times I’ve heard of porn addictions, or at least porn struggles, that began with an email just like the one I received. It wasn’t that people were out looking for bad stuff, but that the bad stuff came looking for them. Once they saw it they became intrigued by it and once they became intrigued they found themselves captivated. I have heard of young children — very young children — who developed interests in dark things from dark places all because of something they stumbled upon when they were online. The sad fact is, as we use the Internet we will, at times, be faced with such things. So, too, will our children.

As parents, we know the importance of having the infamous birds and bees talk with our children. This is, and has always been, a parent’s responsibility. Today, before it’s time for the birds and bees talk, it’s time for the tech talk. As soon as our children begin to go online, we need to open an ongoing conversation about the dangers they may experience there, and to instruct them on how to react when they encounter those dangers.

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Dr. Albert Mohler – The Christian Leader in the Digital Age

The Digital Age is upon us. In the span of less than three decades, we have redefined the way humans communicate, entertain, inform, research, create, and connect – and what we know now is only a hint of what is to come. But the greatest concern of the church is not a technological imperative, but a Gospel imperative.

The digital world did not exist a generation ago, and now it is a fundamental fact of life. The world spawned by the personal computer, the Internet, social media, and the smart phone now constitutes the greatest arena of public discussion and debate the world has ever known.

Leaders who talk about the real world as opposed to the digital world are making a mistake, a category error. While we are right to prioritize real face-to-face conversations and to find comfort and grounding in stable authorities like the printed book, the digital world is itself a real world, just real in a different way.

Real communication is happening in the digital world, on the Web and on the smart phone in your pocket or business case. Real information is being shared and globally disseminated, faster than ever before. Real conversations are taking place, through voice and words and images, connecting people and conversations all over the world.

If the leader is not leading in the digital world, his leadership is, by definition, limited to those who also ignore or neglect that world, and that population is shrinking every minute. The clock is ticking.

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