Is it the first thing you reach for in the morning?
Is it the last thing you see before you go to sleep?
Do you keep it with you at the dinner table?
Do you panic if you leave home without it?
Do you find yourself scrolling when you're “spending time” with family or friends?
Do you reach for it when there’s a moment of downtime?
Do you keep going back to social media because of serious FOMO?
Is it a source of anxiety that somehow keeps pulling you back in?
Is it influencing the way you think or act?
How do you feel when you pick it up?
How do you feel when you put it down?
As we navigate the after-effects of an uncertain and, for some, stressful election year, it’s time to put the phone down.
As we move into the holidays where meaningful relationships with family and friends should be celebrated and enjoyed, it’s definitely time to put the phone down.
We might not realize it or be willing to admit it, but there are some serious phone addictions that need to be addressed. And I’m not just pointing fingers! I’m talking to myself too.
If you think addiction is an overstatement, I encourage you to do some research, because the creators of your phone and the apps you use have certainly done theirs. (A few books to check out are How To Break Up With Your Phone by Catherine Price and Glow Kids by Nicholas Kardaras.)
These things are designed to be difficult to put down. They know how to “reward” us when we pick up our phones. According to Catherine Price, “Many of the same feel-good brain chemicals and reward loops that drive addictions are also released and activated when we check our phones.”
Our phones (and the apps we use) are stealing our time and our peace of mind.
If you start monitoring your screen time, you’ll probably realize that too much of your time is spent on your phone.
How many times do we say we don’t have time to do something, and yet we waste hours on our phones? We have the time, and will make time, for the things and people that matter to us. We just need to take back control of those minutes (or hours) spent scrolling. We need to invest our time into things that are more important and worthy!
Besides, more often than not, our phones are stealing our peace.
I’ve learned to keep any news I read to a bare minimum because I value my peace more than I value knowing every detail about what’s going on in this world. I wasn’t meant to carry that kind of weight. And neither were you!
We were, however, meant to trust that we serve a sovereign God. We’re to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
Let’s not relinquish our peace so easily.
And the same goes for our contentment. How often does social media try to smother contentment with photo after photo of stuff, trips, bodies, homes, and more? There is no peace and contentment when we’re comparing our lives to someone else’s.
Our phones are telling us what to think.
The news, IG influencers, brands, celebrities … we’re comparing ourselves to their “perfect” feeds. We’re letting them tell us what’s right and wrong, what to think, what to say, and what not to.
Have we stopped to consider what the Bible says? Do the opinions of those we’ve allowed to speak into our lives support or contradict the Word of God?
The truth about what’s right and wrong is found in the Word. Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”
2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to "cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and [bring] into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
He tells us who we are, what to say, what not to, how to act … The Bible is the ultimate authority, and everything else must align with it or be rejected.
Our phones are hijacking meaningful relationships.
As Thanksgiving and Christmas draw near, I hope we all see the importance of spending quality time with family and friends.
A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about 5 ways to be intentionally present for Christmas. Number one on the list was to put the phone down.
We believe we are more connected because of our phones, but the reality is we’re more lonely than ever. And even when we’re physically with other people, our altered attention spans keep us from digging into meaningful conversations and actively listening to those around us.
We need each other now more than ever. We need real relationships with real friends. We need to cherish our family time even more. If there’s one thing a worldwide pandemic has taught us, it’s that life is truly fragile.
Time to break up!
So, how do we create healthy boundaries when it comes to our relationship with our phone?
Don’t pull your phone out when you're with other people.
There’s actually a term for this now! It’s called phubbing. You’re snubbing friends, family, co-workers, church members, by pulling out your phone when they’re present. Instead, be actively engaged in the conversations and activities happening in real-time all around you. Show people you care about what they have to say by actually listening to them.
If an app is stealing your peace, get rid of it. If it’s causing you to sin (I’m looking at you, envy), delete it. If you’re spending way too much time on it, it’s time to say goodbye.
Set time limits on apps.
If you simply need some boundaries in place, set time limits on apps or schedule an appointment with an app. Maybe you respond to comments and DMs on Instagram from 10-11 every morning on the weekdays. Or you allow yourself 30 minutes in the afternoon to catch up on Facebook posts each day.
Unfollow, hide, mute, and unfriend!
I made up my mind years ago to only allow people in my feed on social media that I didn’t mind influencing me. Anyone who threatened my peace, promoted or normalized things that didn’t align with the Word of God, or was someone I didn’t really know well, was not given permission to influence me.
Actively use the tools available to protect your little corner of the internet. My feed is made up of family, friends, and mentors (and a few influencers) that don’t violate the boundaries I set above.
Buy an alarm clock (and keep your phone out of your bedroom at night).
If your phone isn’t lying next to your bed, it won’t be the first thing you see in the morning and before you go to sleep. If it’s in another room, you can get up, pray and read the Word, maybe even get a workout in, all before you pick up your phone!
Make a list of other things you enjoy doing.
Reading, practicing an instrument, writing, crafting, playing games, going for a walk, working out … Did you know that excessive time spent on your phone can actually re-write your brain? It’s true! It impacts your ability to think, form new memories, and to remember. On the flip side, reading encourages deep thought.
When you’re bored, choose an activity from the list you made!
Don’t just mindlessly reach for your phone. Choose to spend your time wisely.
Don’t let your phone keep you from your responsibilities.
Sometimes we pick up our phone for a few minutes to delay the inevitable … doing the dishes, doing homework, running the vacuum cleaner, etc. The next thing you know, a lot more time has passed than you realized, and that thing you’re responsible for gets pushed onto tomorrow’s to-do list.
Allow yourself to simply sit and think.
Your mind doesn’t need to be constantly engaged by some activity or entertainment. It’s okay to slow down and let your mind wander. Think. Meditate on the Word of God or the message you heard on Sunday. Ask yourself how you’re feeling. Let yourself dream about the future.
So, what will you do?
I’m extending a challenge to every reader. Take control of your time, your thoughts, your peace, and your relationships this holiday season. ‘Tis the season to break up with your phone and take your life back.
We'd love to hear from you! Are there any great resources, tips, or family rules you recommend for reclaiming your time and your life? Join the conversation on social media!