Smartphone Addictions

Technology has made so many things possible, with literally global access to knowledge and information. I was stunned years ago, when I first had the chance to go on the Internet. At that time I was working on my doctoral thesis – and got into thirteen libraries around the world in a half-hour’s time, all by googling a few key phrases!

Of course technology has leap frogged many times since those old personal-computer days. Today I’m mulling over the benefits and dangers of technological capabilities, as I anticipate discussing the topic in my upcoming online “Stewardship and Culture” course. It seems technology, in itself, is a neutral tool, depending upon how people use it and for what purposes. Does it tend to isolate us from others, or draw us into wider human networks? Are we in charge of it, or does it draw us in unhelpful directions?

Some developments bring substantial worry – such as one study’s finding that smartphone owners check their phones as many as 150 times a day! 1 At best, such behavior reveals human weakness, and at worst it’s the sign of addiction. Technology watchdog Tristan Harris says software developers are using behavioral science to program apps that are irresistible to users.

What does this mean for a Christian steward’s lifestyle, as we try to communicate with real persons, manage time and relationships, and focus on God’s priorities? How do we keep balance and participate in community, both in-person and virtual? What are the implications for us as our technology keeps bounding forward? How do we apply ethics to this whole technological domain? There is much to ponder, with a lot of repercussions. . . .

Your partner in ministry,

Betsy Schwarzentraub