Most likely if you are reading this you fall into one of two groups:
Group 1: You own a smartphone and feel the constant tug-of-war match going on between your desire to constantly be checking your phone and the desire to be freed from the wanting to look at it.
Group 2: You don't own a smartphone and have no clue about what I'm talking about.
And I have a suspicious feeling that you are now reading this post because you are in group 1 and want to know how you can break free. Don't worry. I was once there and occasionally still find myself struggling to get away from the deadly trap of smartphone addiction.
Let me start by saying this, I am not going to give you a 5-step program I went through to get unhooked from being smartphone dependent. I am a recovering smartphone addict.
What I will give you though are things that I thought about concerning smartphone addiction that helped free me from its deadly claws. I hope that reading these thoughts will add to your arsenal in fighting your enslavement to the device in your pocket. Without further ado, here are four things that helped me pry free from the grip of smartphone addiction:
1. Giving time to my smartphone is stealing time from something/someone else.
This is so practical. Every minute you spend on your smartphone is stealing time from something else or worse, someone else. The 12 minutes I take scrolling through my Twitter feed, liking pictures on Instagram, or seeing how many people have liked my awesome Facebook post (which in reality, isn't that awesome) are 12 minutes that I could have spent reading, praying, catching up with an old friend on the phone, or talking with my spouse. I fear that we are often so engaged with our phones that we are never engaged with our thoughts. This understanding of 'stealing' time was a slap in the face to me of how I need to be sure to spend my time doing things that really matter, not just checking my junk email folder.
2. My smartphone can rob me of precious moments with my wife, family, friends, and God.
I write this with great shame because I fear that I have lost out on many precious moments that I could have experienced with my God, wife, friends, family, etc. All because I couldn't put my smartphone down. We can forsake special moments with those that we love and never even realize it because we are so focused on what is on our screens. Let that not be us.
3. Social media can deceive me into thinking I am more important than I really am.
How often do we believe into the lie that we are more important than we really are? I do. I do this by thinking that if I don't post something on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram people will really be missing out. How many times have I deceivingly asked myself, "What about the people that follow my accounts? They will be so disappointed if they don't see me post something this week!" I view myself as way too important at times. My image on social media is not worth smartphone addiction. It never has been, and no matter how 'important' you are, it never will be. One of the most humbling things I could at times is deleting my social media apps for a time. Reminding myself that I am not essential to the world turning nor Twitter's existence.
4. I asked myself a simple question with life-changing implications.
This question, when seriously thought about and combined with the truth of the Gospel, can change your life. The question is this, can what I am desiring be taken from me? This is essential. When I desire to check my social media, the scores of the game, and text messages all the time, it reveals much more than an addiction to my smartphone. It reveals my heart. Friends, can what you are desiring right now be taken? Maybe it's a special relationship you have with your spouse or children. Maybe it's that job you are working so hard in school to hopefully obtain one day. Or maybe it is the desire to be successful and comfortable in life. Let me break the news to you, any answer to the question 'can what I am desiring be taken from me?' that isn't God, can and will eventually pass away. Money, relationships, success, the dream job, drugs, social status, and so much more will all pass away as fast a water poured onto a hot stove. However, the very God who wrapped Himself in flesh, lived a life we couldn't live, died a death we should have died, and rose to life defeating death and sin will never fade away nor be taken away. Ephesians 1:7 says "In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace." What does this mean? God has given us the very thing in the Gospel that will never be taken away: Himself. The Gospel helped me overcome my addiction to my smartphone by showing me that I will never be fulfilled with Twitter followers, Instagram likes, or Facebook friends, but only in Him will I find a hope never failing.
What are some things that you do to fight against smartphone addiction? As a recovering addict myself, I would love to know! Comment on this post and let me and other readers know. Did you find this post helpful? Share it with a friend. Together, with God's help, lets break free from smartphone addiction and live lives fulfilled in Christ.
I am a Husband to Clarissa, Pastor at Liberty Baptist Church, reader of many books, and tweeter at @brad_merchant.