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Smartphone addiction: Let’s pray

From the teen series: UpFront - May 9, 2016

TeenConnect: UpFront

I need your help.

Last week, the media were buzzing about teen addiction to smartphones. 50 percent of your peers admit to feeling addicted. 80 percent admit to checking their phones hourly.

This may not describe you, but consider this: I’m writing this on my phone (and you may be reading this on your phone), which points to the prevalence of smartphone use—and sometimes, overuse. So here’s my question: How are we going to pray?

Because I think this is a call for prayer. “Addiction” implies a pull that feels irresistible. It means that those who struggle with excessive smartphone use may feel like they can’t stop. One of my friends who admits to being on her phone way too much says she feels anxious if she’s not checking social media all the time; she’s worried that she might miss out if she’s not constantly monitoring the latest posts or responding to her followers’ comments.

These descriptions illuminate some of the issues that need to be addressed through prayer. And we address them by finding the spiritual fact that upends them—shows us that they’re powerless. 

“Addiction” implies a pull that feels irresistible.

So let’s take the suggestion that addiction is a pull, and not just any pull, but one that feels impossible to resist. I’ve loved praying about this by knowing that we are God-created, purely spiritual, so there is nothing in us to be pulled. Just like pure gold, which has nothing in it that responds to a magnet, there is nothing in any of us that can be tugged, manipulated, or magnetized. God’s voice is the only voice we hear. Love is the only power governing us. When we see this clearly, any other so-called pull loses its power.

What about the idea that our sense of security depends on being constantly connected via our smartphones? That if we’re not up on what’s being talked about, or what people are saying about us, that our friendships might be at stake? Oh, I get this one. And what’s helped me so much is knowing deep in my heart that God, divine Love, is at the center of all my relationships. Love relates its own ideas. Love is the reliable power that holds our relationships together. We can turn to Love at any moment to feel the reassurance that we are loved, and that our relationships are safe. We can also count on Love to free us from anything that’s no longer constructive.

These aren’t the only issues connected to smartphone addiction. Some of the others I’ve been praying about are the need for approval or to feel liked, boredom, loneliness, and the desire to look good.

You can probably think of some aspects of smartphone addiction that need to be addressed, too. So I hope you’ll join me, not just in praying about this issue, but also in sharing how you’re praying with the TeenConnect community. If you feel inspired, head down to the submission box (below this column) and send in your thoughts.

The world needs our prayers. Because actually, this is about something so much bigger than whether or not you spend too much time on your smartphone. It’s really about each of us being free to prove who God created us to be: not mortals, bound by all the limits and pitfalls of mortality, but the sons and daughters of God, full of purpose, dominion, and joy.

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