How Spending Too Much Time On Your Phone Hurts You (and your family)

phoneA while back my daughter put an app on my phone called MOMENT that sits in the background and tracks how much total time people spend on their phones.

“Dad, you spend WAY too much time checking email and social media,” she said.

“DO NOT.”

“Yes, you do.”

How many times would you estimate that YOU check your phone every day?

30, 40 or 50 times?

British researchers say to take that number and double it!

One study found that people underestimate the amount of time spent on their phones by HALF.

In fact, British psychologist Dr. Richard House noted,

“It is quite shocking that on average one-third of people’s waking hours are spent on their phone – on average five times an hour, every waking hour.”

I’m embarrassed actually to say this – but I completely forgot that she downloaded the MOMENT app on my phone (it was buried in a folder). When I rediscovered it the stats showed that I spent on average 3 hours and 12 minutes on my phone every day.

The Downside Of Multitasking

Up to that point in my life, I took pride in my ability to multitask – working on whatever was in front of me at the time while simultaneously checking my phone, email, taking calls, etc.

The problem, as Dr. Clifford Nass discovered, is that multi-tasking doesn’t work.

Nass, a professor at Stanford University, told the New York Times that he had been “in awe” of multitaskers for years and wanted to find out their secrets.

So, he conducted a series of tests with people who self-identified as high multitaskers and compared their results with those who self-identified as low multitaskers.

What he found shocked him.

“Multitaskers were just lousy at everything,” Nass said.

They were outperformed on every measure, although they’d convinced themselves and the world around them that they had some unique gifting that others didn’t.

“I was sure they had some secret ability,” said Nass. “But it turns out that high multitaskers are suckers for irrelevancy.”

Reducing Digital Noise In Your World

With this in mind, I’ve been on a quest to minimalize my digital life. My goal is to put a halt to my tendency to check my phone non-stop like I’m a dog in a Pavlovian experiment.

My life up until recently reminded me of the way Luke described Martha: “distracted by many things” (Luke 10:40).

That word “distracted” (περιεσπᾶτο in Greek) meant to be “drawn around,” which is the way you’d describe someone’s head when it is pulled up and away from paying attention to one thing to attend to another.

Kinda like what happens to me whenever my phone goes off.

So here are a few of the things I’ve done so far:

Screens

I eliminated every unused app that had been sitting on my iPhone and condensed everything so that it fits on one screen on just three lines (no swiping to the right or left to find things).

Social Media

I have no social media apps on my cell phone. Enough said.

Setting A Daily Phone Use Target

Using the Moment app to track my progress, my goal has been to spend no more than 30 minutes every day on my phone.

My goal is simple: I don’t want to be a sucker for irrelevancy any longer. Like all the other areas I’ve been minimalizing in my life, I want to clear away the digital noise in my life to make room for God’s best for my family and me.

How about you?

How would your life (and your kids’ lives) be richer and more focused if you minimalized the digital noise around you?

About Brian Jones 76 Articles
Brian is the founding Senior Pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He’s the author of 3 books, and a forthcoming title in Fall of 2017. You can find out more about his writing and ministry at BrianJones.com and his ministry to Senior Pastors at SeniorPastorCentral.com.