I remember the day I upgraded to my very first smart phone, the Blackberry. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, this was indeed a day that changed my life. As I held the phone in my hands, I marveled over the technology. Though I stood years behind the curve in smart phones, I didn’t care because I was finally a part of the “cool club.” The more this little box of technology provided so-called connectivity and freedom, the more I was personally chained to it.
If it blinked or dinged with a new message or alert, I dropped everything and checked it immediately.
If a text came in, even at the most inopportune time, I responded promptly.
I would wake from a dream-filled slumber in the middle of the night to check my phone. I even respond to emails...in my sleep.
Whenever I sat idly waiting in line, I would just scroll through my Facebook feed. I constantly stayed connected to my favorite news channel and loved feeling up-to-date on the happenings of the world.
My Blackberry eventually retrained my brain to require constant movement and connectivity. I began to communicate in an abbreviated manner, texting friends instead of calling them in person. I responded to every ding on my phone, even as more meaningful events occurred in real life. The joke of calling the Blackberry the “Crackberry,” was completely accurate. I was addicted to my newfound friend.
As time went on and I acquired new smart phone upgrades, the newness wore off and the reality of my addiction set in. Though I have yet to really resolve the re-wiring of my brain, I’ve come to realize this piece of technology shouldn’t control me. Rather, I should use it as a tool in my life for good. We are not meant to live dominated by a man-made piece of plastic and metal––however smartly the item was made.
Just like anything in the world, objects are not always inherently bad things, and my smart phone is not a bad thing. What was bad was the manner I allowed it to control my life. When I rearranged the way I interacted with my phone, I rearranged the grip it had on my life.
I’d love to share with you just a few low-tech ways to use your smart phone as a productive tool instead of a destructive device:
Put the phone on silent or leave it in another room when spending time with the Lord. This is a big one for me. I put it on silent and flip it over so I’m not distracted by the alerts that pop up on the screen. For me, this is a way to reset my focus and priorities and to show the Lord He is more important in my life than an incoming message.
Put the phone on silent and leave it in your purse when out to dinner or coffee with friends. Over the last several years I’ve observed myself and my friends as we hang out. We all keep the phones on the table right by our coffee cups. Then as soon as the phone dings, we progress into halfhearted conversations as we talk and scroll through the phone at the same time. What meaningful opportunities to really hear a friend and peek into her heart did we miss out on because our attention was deflected to our phone?
Use the reminder app to set prayer alerts. How often do respond to a prayer request from someone with. “Yes, I will pray for you,” yet we never actually do it. I love using the app because I can pray for a person at the specific time they need prayer by setting the alert ahead of time.
Take advantage of the birthday calendar on Facebook BUT instead of leaving a wall post, hit the phone app and actually call your friend in person to wish them a happy birthday. I think this kind of mentality will take us beyond the surface level friendships that might have developed because of our connection to technology.
Download one of the many free Bible apps out there and commit to scrolling through Scripture instead of social media when waiting in line. Though it seems more entertaining to check in with friends online, this is a more effective way to spend time as we soak in God’s Word to allow Him to transform our hearts and minds.
This list of smart ways to use your smart phone could go on and on. I can’t speak for you, but I know when I reevaluated my use of technology, I found better ways to use it. In doing so, I felt freer to live “IRL” as they say, or-- IN REAL LIFE.
I would love to know some smart ways you use your smart phone. Leave a comment...let’s chat!
Sarah Martin loves encouraging young adult women to LIVE OUT! the Kingship of Christ in everyday life. She is the author of the book Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties In A Decade Of Drama. Read more from Sarah at LIVE IT OUT! blog.