By Dr. Sylvia Hart Frejd
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it. Emerson’s statement relates well to our modern digital age; it can be a very good one, if we but know what to do with it. I personally love all the conveniences that our digital technology has provided for us. I love being able to text with my sons and connect with them while they are at college. My daughter recently moved to another State so having the ability to facetime her has been such a blessing. And once a month I look forward to being able to Skype with my mentor. There is no dispute technology has given us so much, but I have to add that it has also taken a lot from us.
The Digital Invasion Statistics
- The average person checks their phone 150 times a day, some up to 900 times a day.
- Research shows the more connected we become the lonelier we are.
- 80% of Smartphone users check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up.
- As screen time goes up empathy goes down. (Empathy is down 40% since 2000).
- Narcissism is up 30%.
- Teens said they would rather give up their pinky finger than their cell phone.
A pastor I spoke to recently shared his heart with me about our digital invasion he said, When you spoke about the problems we face in this digital invasion I felt jerked out of my artificial church world. I realized how far from reality my congregation has gone. I hadn’t realized how the digital world was making it difficult for my people to think, let alone worship. It made me assess the ways I have allowed technology to encroach on my quiet times and my being present with people in conversations. MIT professor Dr. Sherry Turkle shares, The problem with digital intimacy is that it is ultimately incomplete: The ties we form through the Internet are not, in the end, the ties that bind. But they are the ties that preoccupy. In a sea of voices, stories, experiences, do you find yourself preoccupied by what others are doing, saying, writing or producing? We must be aware that too much online life can also drain the life of the soul.
Always on culture
In our homes, schools, and churches the evidence is all around us: we have been invaded. You and I are connected all day, every day, no matter where we go we can’t escape the “plugged-in” life. This 24/7 invasion is starting to take its toll on our emotional, spiritual, physical and relational life. Many researchers believe life in the digital world is causing us to lose our “depth,” our depth of thinking, creating, contemplating, feeling and emotions, as well as depth in our relationships and our work.
Practicing Digital Wellness
My desire with this Digital Wellness column is to encourage a healthy use and theology of technology so we become good stewards of our digital life. Romans 12:2 will be our guide, Do not be conformed to this (digital) world but be transformed by the renewing of your (unplugged) Christlike mind.
If we are honest all of us could use some help to practice digital wellness. I offer 10 steps to digital wellness below; my prayer is that God would help us all to be better stewards of our digital life.
10 Steps to Digital Wellness
- It’s not I tweet therefore I am. Think twice before you post, tweet, text, or upload it.
- Watch your digital footprints and make positive ones because they are permanent.
- Unplug often – Try to take a digital fast once a week or once a month.
- Invest in relationships – real people trump virtual people.
- Establish your own digital boundaries.
- Find things you enjoy doing in real life and do them.
- Get out in nature – take walks, hike, feel the sun – breath fresh air.
- Power down and get some sleep – your brain can’t thrive without it.
- Daily cultivate your “Godspace” take time to be still and know that He is God.
- Be a good steward and use technology for God’s glory.