Charla recently sent our Chapel staff team a video.  The title, “If You Use a SmartPhone…” I was immediately interested because virtually everyone I know uses one.  

The video reviewed some recent data on something known as digital dementia.  As the speaker on the video simply states, “Smartphones make us stupid.” When we depend on smartphones we tend to use our brains less.  

Examples were given such as the fact we memorize fewer phone numbers, we let the phone do simple math for us, and we rely on the phones to keep obvious and regular appointments, etc.  In other words, just as muscle atrophy happens when we do not exercise, when we stop using our brains as much because of smartphones, our brains may very well degrade.

All of this worries me with regard to children, teens, and adults, and raises big concerns about me because of my smartphone use.   

As the video finished, however, something equally if not more troubling came to mind.  Our relationship with God requires quiet, down time, making room for few distractions, and turning computers off or at least walking away from them.  When we have a smartphone in hand and it inhibits us from truly focusing on the person in front of us, if we keep smartphones in hand when communicating and listening to God, does it not also diminish our focus on God?

Also, when someone reads a text or email or tweet we send along, the person receiving the message only has the opportunity to respond and react to words.  Words in isolation do not represent a whole way of communicating with a person in any way shape or form. This is why e-mails often get people into trouble because words alone can be misinterpreted.  

We are all much better off communicating directly with people.  And if this is the case, if our brains are affected by smartphones, are we then, therefore, not more likely to be relating to God in a diminished way because smartphones train us to focus on words alone.   When God communicates with us, God uses many modes of communication, not just words alone.

I believe God is calling me to make some changes in response to all of this, changes that are not easy to make because so many of us, including me, are addicted to technology and smartphones.  That said, I realize if I don’t make some changes, my relationship with God will be affected in an unhealthy way. I invite all of us to examine and pray about where we are with this whole issue and to take some time with God, and to ask God what God would have addressed.  If we do so, I believe we will find our journey with God to suddenly become far deeper and more transformative.