The late Adrian Rogers said, “If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” With the advent of the smartphone, the Devil is getting two birds with one stone.
Cell phones, which today are Internet-enabled portable devices, have created an instantaneous platform for all manner of wrong. Pornography, once reduced to the “red-light” districts, is now available in an instant, if a person desired. Even if a person does not seek it out, pornography bombards us with every other message or image on our phone’s screen.
For those not swept away by outright bad things accessible on a cell phone, these portable devices have created an endless source of distraction. The statistics show that people check their phone, on average, 150 times a day. That statistic is dated, and, today, the number stands even higher. If you are in a waiting room, meeting, event, restaurant—anywhere—people have their faces buried in their phones.
So, today, it’s not that smartphones are making us bad and busy. It’s that we are not using them in disciplined ways, and ones that honor God and others. So what do we do about it?
1. Put it down. We live in a 24-hours-a-day news world, and some of us are afraid we may miss a big happening if we set our phones down. However, what if each person, for an hour a day—such as at the family meal time—decided to set the phone down and not check it? Something tells me life in the outside world would go on.
2. Set ground rules. Most parents would never give their child a loaded weapon, especially with no instruction. Yet, most kids today have Internet-enabled devices with little to no supervision. Some kids are able to use it at any time, including bed time. Instead, set some ground limits for kids, youth—and yourself.
3. Consider others. When you send a text message or call someone, you are entering their world. There are other people immediately around them that they will have to break away focus from to look your message or listen to your voice. When texting or calling or Tweeting, be considerate toward others, as to if it’s an appropriate time to chime in.
In her book, Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age, author and journalist Maggie Jackson, writes we live in a land of distraction. “Despite our wondrous technologies and scientific advances, we are nurturing a culture of diffusion, fragmentation, and detachment. Our attention is scattered among the beeps and pings of a push-button world. We are less and less able to pause, reflect, and deeply connect.”
Ultimately, the way the Devil makes us bad and busy is to lure us away from Scripture and prayer. Smart, wise use of smartphones and other Internet devices can enhance or distract from that Scripture and prayer.
With the steps I mention, along with others, we still can utilize smartphones and technology in redemptive ways, including pointing to Christ on social media and adding salt to our conversations. But we can, by God’s help, make sure technology remains a tool in our hands, not the Devil’s.