Are Smartphones Smart?

The Latest Word from John Ed Mathison

How smart are smartphones?  They can make us smarter or dumber.  The result depends on our attitude and application of the device.

It is estimated that by the end of 2016, there will be 7.2 billion cell phones in the world.  Americans have spent $23.5 billion over the last seven years replacing broken smartphones.  The Wall Street Journal reports about 65% of smartphone users in the United States check their device upon waking in the morning.  On an average, 18-24 year olds check their phones 53 times a day.  I think some older adults exceed that number!

The smartphone can be extremely helpful.  In tackling the God-Sized Vision to start five million churches and win one billion new believers by 2020, much of the training of pastors is done by the use of smartphones.  Smartphones can carry inspirational information.  I record a one-minute audio devotional thought everyday and post a devotional blog each week on Facebook, both of which can be accessed on a smartphone.  Thousands of people find this helpful.  The same avenue of Facebook can carry a lot of other information that will have a negative effect on people.  Facebook is neither good nor bad – it can make us smarter or dumber.

The smartphone can be a great tool for communication in many ways.  There are many helpful apps that warn us about bad weather, traffic jams, news items, sports scores, etc.  Smartphones have immense potential for doing good – they also have immense potential for creating unwholesome lifestyles.  Distracted walking caused 11,101 injuries in 2011.  Utah Valley University has added a texting lane in its Wellness Center because of the dangers of texting and walking.  Misuse of smartphones can create “Smombies.” Jim Dennison writes:

“Smombies” are people who stare at their smartphones while walking like zombies.  They are a problem:  According to University of Washington study, one in three of us is busy dealing with a smartphone or other electronic device at risky road crossings.

Here’s one solution: Officials in the city of Augsburg have installed traffic lights embedded in the pavement.  The idea came after a fifteen-year-old girl was killed by a tram.  Police say she was distracted by her smartphone as she crossed the tracks.  The new lights are more obvious to those looking down at their devices while walking.

Technology fixation is not just dangerous while we are ambulatory.  Hearing loss, sedentary weight gain, sleep disruption, and damage to the eyes, neck, wrists and fingers are all connected to excessive smartphone use.  In addition, media multitasking contributes to poor attention span, depression and anxiety.  One study showed that people who multitasked while doing cognitive tests dropped as many IQ points as if they had just smoked marijuana.

In other words, smartphones make dumb people.  What’s the answer?

Experts tell us to make rules such as: no smartphone usage at social events, while driving, or during interaction with others.  Turn off all alerts at certain times during the day.  Some people even create a long, frustrating password that makes it harder for them to turn on the phone casually.”

Smartphones can make you either smarter or dumber.  The choice is up to you.  It can be a tremendous asset in your life or it can quickly become a liability.  Are you in control of your smartphone or is your smartphone in control of you?  (Read Rom. 8:26-28.)

Be smart and ask God to help you analyze how smart is your use of your smartphone!

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