Smart Phone: Friend or Foe?

I got my first cell-phone when I was dating my husband in 2007. It has been a little over ten years since I have owned a cell. It has become so much a part of my life, I cannot remember how I managed without it. A smart phone, is truly more than a phone, it is my brain. But as I have trended through the years with a cell-phone, I have realized that it can be a useful tool in my hands, or a tool that is destructive. Like everything in my life, I weigh it in the balance of value.

My perspective on my phone is that it is a tool. It is a tool for my housekeeping, children’s education, Spiritual growth, necessary calls, and building relationships. I have rules as to how I use my phone. And I ALWAYS stick to them.

My phone never comes between me and real people. I purpose to ignore it, even silence it, when we have family or friends visiting, we are spending time together as a family, or I am on a date with my husband. I don’t look at it during a conversation unless I tell the person I am with what I am doing and it pertains to our conversation. I do not answer a call or text when I am with someone, with the exception of my husband or babysitter if I am not with him at the time.

I do not use my phone for entertainment. I do not have games, movies, or apps on my phone. I don’t use it to kill time. I don’t have time to kill time. If I am sitting still with my phone, I am texting a friend, working on a grocery list, or shopping online for something we need…like recently house-hunting. Soon…Christmas gift shopping. But I spend time on my phone only when I purposed to do so. Generally Sunday mornings are very calm in our homes and I have an hour of quiet before we go to church. Saturday’s are also a little different from weekdays and I may spend time working on something on my phone. So, I do use my phone, but it is purposed. Last night, I was finalizing my grocery list, which I had been working on little by little throughout the day. I didn’t get it done until my husband and I sat down together after the children were in bed.

If an app is becoming a time sponge, I delete it from my phone. As I try to keep eternity in perspective, random phone browsing becomes a frivolous task. There are loads of great ideas out there, but if I am not purposeful in my pursuit of knowledge, it becomes useless noise in my life. I have found a lot of apps were more of a distraction to my home than a blessing. How silly to tell my child, “I am trying to find some great ideas about how to home-school,” instead of taking that time to read her a book? She doesn’t need a lot of eye-candy to learn, just love and MY TIME. I have simplified my pursuit of information by choosing only to look up something if there is a need. And even then, I try to go to books before the internet. I find books to be a more reliable source of information and less consuming than a phone. I have deleted great apps like Pinterest, Facebook, and Zulily. Because they are simply taking too much of my precious time from the eternal pursuits that are most precious.

I don’t look up health information on my phone. This rule is one I had to adopt a few years ago as I realized how often I had misdiagnosed myself or the children through Web MD. Put in a list of symptoms and one can diagnose themselves with anything from terminal cancer to a bug bite. The loads of information on health bred a heart of fear in me. It does me no good to know too much about what I don’t know for certain. I rely on articles, books, and real people for my medical information. That includes my knowledge on health and nutrition. I don’t read posts from Dr. Axe anymore. But I will check out stacks of books at our local library and have read some fantastic and very helpful books.

My phone is not attached to my body. I usually put it on the kitchen counter, and it stays there pretty much all day. I don’t carry it around the house with me, unless, I am going to be spending time pressing Jim’s shirts. Then, I will listen to podcasts or something to fill my head with good thoughts.

How I use my phone:

I use my phone to aid in my housekeeping. I create my grocery lists on my phone as I discussed in my post: My Modern Shopping Techniques. I also use my phone to purchase a lot online. I find I can score great deals and have it shipped to my door for less than I can drive and purchase an item locally. I also buy used clothes on E-Bay and Poshmark for myself and family. I use a note app to make to-do lists and plan menus. I also make a list of errands in order for shopping day.

I purpose my phone to be used for my Spiritual edification. I listen to several preaching podcasts daily. I also keep the ESV Bible app on my phone.

Of course I use my phone for necessary calls. Setting up appointments, ordering a birthday cake, calling for information about insurance…. We all have those business, un-fun calls to make. And that is certainly a necessary use of my phone.

My phone is also for building relationships. Other than texting my husband daily, I text or call family members and friends. I make a point to keep up with people by using my phone. I text pictures of my children to their grandparents. When someone asks me to pray for them, or I volunteer to pray for a concern someone has, I like to touch base on occasion and see what God is doing in their lives. I also text to simply see how an old friend is doing. I also try to judge why I am texting. Very often, a phone call is more personal and clear than a text, so I try to be cautious about over-texting and making sure I am calling people as needed. I had a friend from church who is praying for me randomly call me last week to see how I was doing. It was refreshing to get a personal call. It meant more to me to hear her voice and we got a lot of conversation in five minutes that could have never fit in five minutes of texting so beautifully. Honestly, an old-fashioned phone call is lovely. I have discovered that although texting might seem convenient and un-intrusive, most people want their lives to be intruded upon.

So my phone is a wonderful tool for many things of eternal value. But it’s use does have its place. I don’t want to miss out on creating or savoring a moment with my loved ones in the room because I am on my phone. Very often, my phone can wait. And I have never regretted putting it down to pull build railroads on the floor with my children.