Jenni is hooked on a video game. “I’m playing it for eight hours a day now,” she says, “and it’s become a real problem.”
Dennis tried to go seven days without his electronic devices and Internet access. He lasted just 40 hours.
Jenni and Dennis are not teenagers. Jenni, a mother of four, is 40 years old. Dennis is 49.
DO YOU use digital technology? * Many would answer yes, and for good reason. Electronic devices play a prominent and useful role in employment, social life, and entertainment.
However, like Jenni and Dennis, many people seem overly attached to some uses of technology. For example, 20-year-old Nicole says: “I hate to say it, but my cell phone and I are best buddies. I make sure it’s close by at all times. I go crazy if I’m in an area with no cell coverage, and after half an hour, I can’t wait to be able to check my messages again. It’s a little ridiculous!”
Some people even check a device for messages and updates through the night. They may experience withdrawal symptoms when they are separated from their digital companion. Some researchersdescribe this type of behavior as an addiction—whether to digital technology in general or more specifically to the Internet or a particular device, such as a smartphone. Others hesitate to use the term “addiction” and prefer to describe such behavior as problematic, compulsive, or obsessive.
Regardless of what it is called, unwise use of digital technology can be a problem. In some cases, it has created a barrier between family members. For example, a 20-year-old girl laments: “My father doesn’t know about anything going on in my life anymore. He sits in the living room and writes e-mails while he is talking to me. He can’t put his phone down. My dad probably cares about me, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem that he does.”
To help deal with misuse of technology, lands such as China, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States have established “digital detox” centers, where a person is denied access to the Internet and digital devices for several days. For example, consider Brett, a young adult who says that at one point he was playing an online game for up to 16 hours a day. “Whenever I went online, it really was like getting high on a drug,” he says. By the time Brett checked himself into a digital detox center, he was unemployed, had neglected his hygiene, and had lost his friends. How can you prevent such a sad outcome?
ASSESS YOUR USE OF TECHNOLOGY. Determine the impact that technology has on your life. Ask yourself such questions as the following:
Do I become unduly agitated, perhaps even temperamental, when I cannot access the Internet or use my electronic device?
Do I keep using the Internet or device long after the predetermined time I have set to stop?
Am I losing needed sleep because I cannot stop checking for incoming messages?
Is my use of technology causing me to neglect my family? Would my family members agree with my answer to this question?
If your use of technology is causing you to neglect “the more important things”—including your family and other responsibilities—now is the time to make changes. (Philippians 1:10) How?
LEARN TO SET REASONABLE LIMITS. Too much of even a good thing can be harmful. So whether you use digital technology for business or for pleasure, limit how long you will do so, and then stick to that limit.
Tip: Why not enlist the help of a family member or a friend? The Bible says: “Two are better than one, . . . for if one of them falls, the other can help his partner up.”—Ecclesiastes 4:9, 10.
Do not let attraction lead to “addiction”
As new devices make it easier and faster to access and transmit data, the unwise use of technology will no doubt grow. But do not let attraction lead to “addiction.” By “making the best use of your time,” you can avoid misusing digital technology.—Ephesians 5:16.
^ par. 5 In this article, the term “digital technology” refers to electronic devices that access or transmit digital data, including e-mails, phone calls, text messages, videos, music, games, and photos.