Beep! Beep! Ding-dong. Knock-knock. The theme song to Friends. I have all these various tones, rings and songs that identify what or whom is texting, emailing, or calling on my smartphone. Whenever I hear a sound come from the smartphone, I immediately pick it up and check it out. Just call me Pavlov’s dog (http://www.simplypsychology.org/pavlov.html), a well-trained animal who is attentive to a device that serves as a reward mechanism for the brain. IT’S A PHONE! But yet I can’t help it.
On a recent excursion to a popular local park I noticed the astronomical amount of parents using a phone while attempting to interact or watch children play. Next time you go to a popular park, check it out. You’ll be amazed. While playing with my daughter, it dawned on me that she was having more fun that day. Why? I accidentally left my phone in the car. I couldn’t text, surf, answer calls, collect my gaming coins, or take pictures. It was just my daughter and I having a blast without that third-wheel, Mr. Smartphone. That’s when I realized I was idolizing Mr. Smartphone and putting him ahead of my children and maybe even God.
Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. Jonah 2:8
The above verse pretty much sums it up. If I continue to put Mr. Smartphone ahead of my children, I will lose the love of my children. It may sound silly but think about it. Someone asks your child later in life what he or she remembers most about spending time with mom and the reply may just be, “She was always using her phone.”
If that’s not enough for you to stop using the mobile while attending to children, perhaps the following data will. There have been several studies suggesting a direct correlation between increased smartphone usage and an increase of injuries among children. Between 2005 and 2012, injuries among children, ages five and below, have increased 10 percent. Before 2005, trend was slowly declining since the 1970s. (http://www.palssonresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/smartphone_v17.pdf).
Usage of smartphones while driving is called distractive driving and leads to over 3,300 deaths per year in the United States. More drivers in the U.S. text while driving than our European counterparts. “421,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver in 2012, a 9% increase from the 387,000 people injured in 2011.” http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/distracted_driving/.
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. Galatians 4:8
In a way I have become a slave to Mr. Smartphone. He has me in his evil claws. Every time the Facebook or Instagram notification sounds go off, I immediately grab Mr. Smartphone to see the comments or likes. I am pathetic! And let’s be honest…I do check these notices while driving as well. Not good! The part that cracks me up — most of us (the parents) grew up without smartphones, cell phones or the Internet! So why are we letting these devices enslave our minds? We are Smartphone-oholics. Is there an Smartphone-oholics Anonymous?
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 1 Corinthians 10:14
I am going challenge myself, and all parents, to put down or turn off Mr. Smartphone. Perhaps start with a three hour block of time on a Saturday afternoon. Do something fun with kids and leave Mr. Smartphone behind. If you’re really daring, remove all social media and games from the phone. Together we can overcome this addiction.