Tag Archives: texting

What Can Unplugging Your Cell Phone Do For You?

It’s true. I decided to not use my cell phone for 24 hours, and I lived to tell my story. A generation ago, this statement would be ridiculous. A cell phone is a luxury. Even as a high school student, zackmorris_0the only cell phone I knew was the one Zack Morris carried around on the Saved by the Bell set.  It looked more like a VCR than the cell phones of today. That thing was huge!

Now, technology has brought us the internet on our phones. Our phones can track the amount of steps we take, capture moments with video and pictures, and can answer your questions (by the way, ask Siri “What is zero divided by zero”, it’s hilarious). I’ve written on this before, how technology is taking over our lives. So rather than go down that negative road, let’s take a positive spin on this. What if we unplugged? What would happen? Could you live? In a recent survey of 16-22 year olds, over half said they would give up their sense of smell sooner than they would give up their phones. Yes, you just read that correctly. And don’t even get me started on the Petextrians.

You might be thinking this is such a crazy thing to do. What was I thinking? Would I be able to breathe? What happens if there was a question that only Siri could answer? Would I have to talk to my family, play with my kids, and pay attention to my surrounding? I know, this was big time.

What made me to wade into such dangerous waters? What would make me risk my technology life? Well, it started with a simple jab from my 7-year-old daughter. She asked if I would sit by her on my morning off and play games and watch her favorite show…and then she said…and not check your phone. Like a ton of bricks hitting me upside the head. It’s time Jeff. It’s time.

So, as the first man who entered space, I embarked on an adventure, not knowing if I would make it. And, I did not perish from this risky experiment. In fact, I am alive to tell you these lessons I learned from unplugging my phone…

Being Still. Those of us that have smart phones, what is the first thing you do when you are sitting still, bored, or have nothing to do? You pull out your cell phone. You finger flick through Instagram, check your fantasy football team, or check how many likes your Halloween costume selfie got in the past 3 minutes. What if you decided to just “Be Still”? When was the last time you followed God’s advice in Psalm 46:10 and just was still before God? I’m here to tell you, it’s wonderful.

indexYou Have to Communicate. During this hiatus, my wife went to the grocery store while I was home with the kids. She knew I was “unplugged”, which meant I had no idea when she would be back. Home alone with 3 kids, and not knowing when your wife was going to be back. Ahhhh!!!! I told you it was dangerous waters. But seriously, communication becomes a larger factor, and that’s a good thing. A good reminder of how important communication is in relationships.

Quality Time. Quality time with your kids is not quality time if you have your phone out. We are good at holding this rule at the dinner table, but fail during other period of times. For example, during movie night with the kids, I purposefully will keep my phone upstairs so I can make sure the buzz or ding of the phone does not distract from the snuggles and popcorn.

Clear-Headed. There is just so much information to filter on your phones. Social media, news stories, sports information, pictures, texts, voicemail, emails…and the list goes on. Your brain needs time to refresh itself. A good 24 hour phone cleanse can be helpful.

Maybe I’m the only one that spends a little too much time on their phone. By not having a nervous breakdown after 24 hours without my phone shows me it’s not out of control. However, this time away did present some great lessons.

So, I’d encourage you to try the 24 hour challenge. You may learn your children’s names. You may not get hit by a car. You may look up long enough to see the sun is still in the sky. See, the benefits are numerous. But seriously, you may just need to be still, no WiFi and all!slide-to-power-off

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What is Technology Doing to Us?

OK, I can hear you from here. You’re thinking: “this is another guilt-me-into-putting-my-cell-phone-down blog. I’ve seen these a million times, and I feel guilty for a day and go without my cell phone. Then, the next day a new version of Candy Crush comes available for free, and I go bananas (pardon the pun)”

Bear with me, let’s start with an experiment. Next time you drive on the highway, take a look around. Count how many people are on their cell phones while driving. Maybe your highways are safer than mine, so take this experiment to the next restaurant you have dinner, and look to see who is actually having conversations with a non-electronic device. Take a stroll to the park, and watch parents push their kids on swings with one hand, and check their social media on their smartphone with the other.  Even when teenagers hang out, it’s commonplace for phones to be out and communication to be non-existent.social_media-Technology-Wallpapers

What’s my point?  Is the iPocolypse upon us.  Should we all try to build a Delorean with a flux capacitor to get us back 15 years.  Doc, slow down.  Before we get to some answers, let’s start with the bad news:

  1. Danger, Danger! You’ve all seen articles like this or this. There’s no doubt about it, with the overuse of technology, there comes developmental and social ramifications. Don’t ignore the warning signs of technology addiction. It’s real, and must be monitored in the future.
  2. FOMS. Anxiety is a growing problem for this generation. In fact, there is a term for the anxiety that occurs with a smartphone, it called Fear of Missing Something or FOMS. It may seem silly, but the statistics of this are staggering. Read here.
  3. So Much for Honor RollAnxiety is also growing inside the classroom.  While there are benefits of technology in the classroom, there are also some drawbacks. Not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, just presenting facts to consider.

The Good News:computer-kid

  1. Techie Faith. Teens are using their tablets for devotions and iPods for Bible reading. While I’m a big fan of feeling the Scripture pages with my fingers, technology can provide an avenue for Spiritual growth and discovery. (See Barna’s article)
  2. Millennials, Robots in Disguise? Can you say multitasking while chewing gum, patting your head, listening to your iPod, and skating…a typical Millennial can. The ability of this generation to process information quickly, multitask, and decipher technology is astounding (I caught my one year old texting the other day, not joking). This ability can be a huge advantage in their education, breadth of learning, and advancing our technology even further in the future.
  3. World-View. Whether it is learning of an earthquake in Central America within minutes of it happening, or finding out about persecution in the Far East…the worldview expansion of this generation has potential to be world-changing. Possibly by prayer, financial support, or leading causes, we are seeing more teenagers taking strides in making a difference in the world.

When it comes down to it, the key word here is BALANCE. When it comes to technology, don’t throw the cell phone out with the bath water. Technology provides educational tools, instant access to information, and globalization of communication. However, the overuse has seen the rise in anxiety amongst teens, increase in auto accidents, slow erosion of academic performance and decrease of quality family time. family-and-technologyWhere is the balance? Here’s some action points to help:

  1. Be Smart with your SmartPhone. Put the thing away when you are driving, riding a bike, or walking on a bridge.
  2. Set Limits. These could include, but not limited to: no cell phones at dinner, limit yourself to 1-2 games on your phone/tablet, must be put away when entering the house from work, and at a distance when on a date or playing with the kids. For kids & teens especially – no cell phones during homework/study and after designated bed time.
  3. Charging Station. Especially for teens that are suffering from sleep deprivation and sleep texting, take the temptation away. Design a charging station away from the bedrooms, and check the phones before your shower, not between 1am-5am.
  4. Security. Set up security and restrictions on devices. With teens averaging 6 devices, it’s no longer just computers that provide temptations. Parents, keep an eye on this, and set up software to protect. BUT DON’T STOP THERE! Have regular conversations about purity vs. pornography, online bullying, and proper technology behavior (i.e. sexting).
  5. Superheroes of Technology. In virtually every superhero movie, there’s a quote that or scene that depicts the phrase “use your powers for good not evil”. Encourage yourself and students to use this power of technology for good.   Help them find and pray for global causes, teach them to witness on social media, and show them Bible study tools online. The list is endless for positive things too.
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Book Review: The Seven Checkpoints

Book Review:  The Seven Checkpoints by Andy Stanley

The Good: 7 checkpoints If you have read any of my book reviews in the past, you know how much I enjoy the personal stories.  There is just something about personal stories that makes points stronger and more practical, in my opinion.  And in this book, there are plenty of these invaluable stories.  Other highlights of this book include the best explanation of the issue of teens and authority that I have every read or heard.  That is just one example how this book was able to provide superior insight in the spiritual life and spiritual needs of teenagers.  Then, in the final chapter, this book puts its money where its mouth is (whatever that means).  What I mean is, basically, the book takes you through the seven checkpoints that are vital principles that every teenager should know.  In the final chapter (and in the appendix) you have are given a game plan in how to implement these principles.

The Bad:  There are just a few things in this book that could be cleared up with a quick edit or backspace button.  Let me give you a few examples.  Rarely are there references next to the Scripture quotes.  Why?  That would just take a few seconds to correct and would be very helpful.  Stanley seems to have a propensity to use hyperbole in his writing.  Example would be on page 121, “The most difficult thing you will do as a teenager is walk away from relationships with people you really care about.”  Lastly, I would highly suggest reading the revised version.  In the 2001 version, there is no reference to texting and social media.  Also, when a celebrity is mentioned, they are outdated.  It needs a little updating.

The Grade:  B+.  This is one that every youth pastor or youth leader should read.  I realize it is written to youth leaders, and I see value in using this in parent meetings, but I guess I expected it to more applicable to parenting than it is.  Other than that, this has great value in youth ministries everywhere.

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Even John the Apostle Got Tired of Social Media

Okay, maybe the title is a little bit of a stretch.  But, before you sue me for false advertising, check out this verse found in 2 John:

12 I have much to write to you, but I do not want to use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to visit you and talk with you face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

See, I wasn’t too far off here.  Even Jesus’ beloved disciple had frustrations with the social media of the day.  Just writing to his brothers and sisters in the faith was not enough.  He needed something more, he needed face time (and no, I’m not talking about the iPhone equivalent to Skype)

As I read this verse, it begged some questions, especially those that are in ministry:

  1. Do we have too much social media?  While it is valuable in connected to others, keeping track of what is happening in other people’s lives, and is a source of encouragement…it can also become a huge distraction, a definite social-media-overloadtime-waster, and at times a temptation.
    1. I mean, it has gotten to the point where I can find out what football coach has been hired before the team announces it.  You can know the news before it even becomes news (see:  Manti Te’o Twitter Craziness).
  2. Do we not have enough face to face?  This was the Apostle John’s complaint way back in the early 100’s.  Times have not changes.  Even with airplanes, cars, buses, and trains over the last 2000 years, we have allowed computers to get in the way of our face to face time.  Case and point:  You ever hang out with high school students and every one of them is texting…some even to people in the same room!  We need more face to face!
  3. Do we hide behind our computers & tweets?  Would you be as bold in your meeting with others as you are on your status or your tweet?  Do you use your keyboard as a confrontation tool?  I’ve always tried to follow this rule of thumb “Never have a serious conversation over the computer”.  There may be some exceptions to that rule, but overall is a good goal to shoot for.

This frustration is not new.  Technology may be always changing, but something remains the same, we should always strive to meet people face to face, in their homes, at a coffee shop, or on the street.  Show Christ love to someone today IN PERSON.  That’s your goal, and let me know how it goes!

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10 Things I learned today about the Millennial Generation

  1. Most would be more upset at losing cell phone than wallet, claiming cell phone is more valuable.
  2. Those that attend church more than 4 times a month are 4 times less likely to smoke, 2 times less likely to drink, and 3 times less likely to use drugs.
  3. Those that have family dinners with their family are 4 times less likely to smoke, 2 times less likely to drink, and 2.5 times less likely to use drugs.
  4. 87 percent favored watching TV and movies online instead of subscribing to a cable service
  5. 76 percent spent more than an hour a day on Facebook
  6. Several studies coming out that say those that use Facebook are more likely to use drugs/drink.  (This one is tough to believe since everyone uses facebook)
  7. Teenagers of this generation will text on average 5 times more than adults.
  8. One poll says 80% of teens sleep with their cell phones.
  9. Who Bill Shock is…(Think about your cell phone use)
  10. Girls between 14-17 are the most frequent texters, averaging 100 texts a day.
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