Wednesday, January 6, 2021

31-Day Phone Challenge - Day 6


The smart phone has been compared to the slot machine.

The slot machine was designed to encourage compulsive use and is considered the most addictive device ever invented.

Most of us wouldn’t dream of gambling, but the phone was designed to give us the same addictive hormone triggers as the slot machine. When I check my phone, I may find a fun email or a text from a friend. This reward gives a boost of dopamine – the happy hormone which reinforces the reward.

We are “addicted to our phones because we crave immediate approval and affirmation.” Tony Reinke in 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You

The contrasting hormone to dopamine is cortisol, the stress hormone. Some psychologists claim that our phones promote anxiety because we worry that we are missing something.

Social media sites were purposely designed to be endless. You will never come to the end of Google. Or Instagram. Or Youtube. There are 500 hours of video uploaded onto Youtube every minute. Every minute! There is always another post, another link, another video. When we lay down our phones, we know that we will miss something.

With dopamine rewarding us with notifications and cortisol plaguing us every time we shut off our phones, no wonder we are glutting ourselves with phone time.

The urge to check Twitter or refresh Reddit becomes a nervous twitch that shatters uninterrupted time into shards too small to support the presence necessary for an intentional life.” Cal Newport in Digital Minimalism

Mark 4:18-19 describes the setting of our world today. “And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the Word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the Word, and it becometh unfruitful.

Today’s challenge: Turn off most, if not all, notifications on your phone. You can always turn them back on if you find you need them, but rarely are social media notifications an emergency.

When my phone would ding with a WhatsApp message, all my children would rush to my phone. And, to be honest, I’d be tempted to stop what I was doing, too. Checking a short WhatsApp message not only interrupted my task, but often turned into twenty minutes on my phone. Turning off the notifications has significantly cut down phone distractions for me.

As with all these challenges, adjust them to fit your needs. Your life may require you to be more connected. Some apps can be set to allow only calls and notification from specific numbers. So if you want to allow calls from your husband and children, but not the rest of the world, you can.

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