Family Ministry Blog

Is Your Smartphone Changing You?

by Ryan Pickering on April 26, 2021

Is Your Smartphone Changing You?

In 2017, Tony Reinke released “12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You” as a critical and much needed book to resource those navigating smart phones. A lot of parents have been using this book as a tool into the world of technology with their kids. After the book was released for some time, Chip Cowsert (Youth Pastor) wrote a discussion guide based on the 12 chapters of the book. The discussion guide was posted online here and I encourage you to have these questions to discuss if you choose this book resource. These questions would be a great way to do family devotions!

For those of you interested in hearing a brief summary of each chapter, check it out!

Summary of 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You:

Introduction and Chapter 1: We Are Addicted to Distraction

We are distracted people, largely because of the smartphones we “need” for normal, everyday life. We willingly give ourselves over to distraction for a number of reasons. These distractions keep work away, keep people away, and even keep thoughts of eternity away.

Chapter 2: We Ignore Our Flesh and Blood

Those who struggle with smartphone addiction will find it difficult to love their neighbor. For some reason, we feel a sense of urgency and anxiety when we hear a message notification, and we often end up ignoring the person right in front of us.

Chapter 3: We Crave Immediate Approval

Most human beings want the approval of others, and many times we crave man’s approval more than God’s approval. In this digital world, we face an increasing number of temptations related to the approval of others.

Chapter 4: We Lose Our Literacy

The Christian faith is a book-based faith. This becomes an issue in a culture where many people have developed poor reading habits due to the ubiquity of smartphones. Much of our reading takes place in a digital format which isn’t always helpful for the larger issue of literacy. Most online reading is rushed and hurried. When reading on a digital device, most people skim quickly rather than read carefully. Few people “linger” over digital material.

Chapter 5: We Feed on the Produced

Smartphone users need to understand the difference between mediated and intermediated revelation. Mediated revelation is what we experience in the “real” world. It’s the embodied people and the physical world around us. Intermediated revelation is what we experience through some other medium, like the screen of our smartphone. Too often, we settle for intermediated revelation rather than mediated revelation. In doing so, we often put ourselves at the mercy of corporations and algorithms who want to motivate clicks and purchases. Thus, our experience of life becomes artificial and entirely commercial.

Chapter 6: We Become What We “Like”

Smartphones promote a strange circle of influence. We like, follow, and click on what appeals to us. All the while, the things we see and consume online are changing us from the inside out. We chase what we think looks like us, and we end up looking like what we chase.

Chapter 7: We Get Lonely

Human beings need a number of things for survival. We need food, water, and shelter. We also need friendship. Smartphone manufacturers and app developers assure us that their technology will bring us together so that we’re never alone. Unfortunately, the result of this technology is not relationship but separation and isolation. Social media allows us to be “friends” only with those we want in our lives. Text messages allow us to respond according to our timetable. Headphones allow us to live inside our own bubble even while we are surrounded by people.

Chapter 8: We Get Comfortable in Secret Vices

Pornography is the internet’s biggest business, and a variety of smartphone features assure us that no one will know about our digital transgressions. However, believers must remember that the all-knowing, all-seeing, all- present God knows all about our browsing histories.

Chapter 9: We Lose Meaning

Updates and news alerts light up our smartphones throughout the day. Social media posts are constantly showing up, and there’s never an end to our news feeds on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The information just keeps coming. There is a temptation we face as we stare down this avalanche of information. That temptation is believing that we can know everything and keep up with all the latest developments. We can’t, and we weren’t meant to try.

Chapter 10: We Fear Missing Out

FOMO is the “fear of missing out.” Many smartphone users know this anxiety and worry, even if they don’t know the acronym. We worry that we might miss an important status update, an urgent news alert, the score of the big game, or even the latest offering on our preferred streaming service. We sinfully worry about what people will think about us if we don’t keep up with the avalanche of new media made available online

Chapter 11: We Become Harsh to One Another

Technology, social media, and smartphones can have a massive impact on the way we sin. They can also have a massive impact on the way we deal with the sins of others. There is a biblical pattern set forth for how we ought to confront sin in the lives of the people around us. Social media must not be used as a shortcut to that pattern.

Chapter 12: We Lose Our Place in Time

Perhaps the biggest danger with respect to time is simply time wasted on trivial things on our smartphones. All the games, puzzles, and quizzes that dominate our attention have no value in the scope of eternity.

Interested in learning more about the book? Click here for Amazon link!

Tags: faith, technology, parenting, smartphones

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