The Five Times You Should Never Use Your Phone
Your phone is a portal to the rest of the world. It is also one of the biggest distractions that you have. It has the power to ruin mindfulness, intrude on your best relationships, and destroy your effectiveness. While there are times when your phone is a useful power tool, here are five times you should never use it.
#1 – While Eating
Food is a connection-point with other people. Our best relationships often develop over a meal. Whether you are eating with friends or family, you have an incredible opportunity to deepen your friendships as you eat together.
If you pull out your phone, you can derail this opportunity. It seems innocuous enough to start with: you just want to check one fact, or share one video on your phone. In the end, you spend more time looking at the phone than at the faces of the people that really care about you.
#2 – While Conversing
Conversation is an increasingly rare part of modern life. We develop relationships over Snapchat or Facebook Messenger, but spend less time than ever with the people in our immediate proximity. The best relationships, however, occur face-to-face.
If you are in a conversation, don’t check your phone. Give the other person your full attention. Even if you hear the ‘ding’ that indicates a new text message, and even if your phone rings, ignore the distraction. Your highest priority is the person in front of you. Don’t give higher priority to the person who isn’t even present!
#3 – During Family Evenings
When you are home with your family in the evening, make that a special time to spend with those who are closest to you. The world is busy and bustling, but don’t let that intrude into the sweetness of your family relationships. Remember: the world will always make you think that it is more important, but it will always be there tomorrow. You can afford to put your phone away and make the best of the present time.
#4 – During Church
It is one thing to be distracted by your phone from the people in front of you. It is another thing to be distracted from God. If you are in church, don’t pull out your phone. Seriously, which one is more important: the text message you just received, or God Himself?!
Some people use their phones to take notes or read their Bibles. While I understand that these are legitimate uses, I would encourage you to use a paper Bible and paper notes. First, you won’t be distracted by other uses of your phone. Second, the preacher won’t feel like you are distracted. He has poured hours of time into his preparation. He wants to bring a message to you from God. Show him love by paying attention. If he sees you on your phone, he will guess that you are distracted, and that is discouraging.
#5 – Before and During Devotions
When I talk about devotions, I am talking about your personal time with God, reading your Bible and praying. This is the time when God communicates with us, and we communicate with God. Imagine how insulting it would be to say, ‘God, you are important, but this text message is more important.’
If you do your devotions in the morning, like I do, then don’t use your phone before then, either. Here is why: the world is busy, and it wants to include you in that busyness. Your phone is a portal to the world. When you approach God, it is ideal to have a calm mind, one that can focus on him exclusively. When you use your phone, you are immediately engulfed in worldly matters: you remember the project that you agreed to do, you think about the phone call you make, you are intrigued by the headlines. None of these things promote a calm mind. These things draw your mind away from God. But they can wait until after your devotions.
Before I go on, I need to make it clear. I have broken every single one of these rules. If you know me, you can probably even remember specific occurrences. I’m not writing this because I am perfect. I’m writing this because I want to do better. I’m challenging myself to recommit to these rules.
It is important not to be judgmental if you use these rules. Most people have never learned how to use their phones. If they start checking their phone while they are talking to you, they probably don’t realize what they are doing. You don’t need to be offended by them. Begin by adopting these rules for yourself, rather than forcing others to follow them.
Finally, there are exceptions to each of these rules. While the exceptions are few, they are legitimate. For example, if you have a family member in the hospital, it is probably fine to keep your phone nearby. If you are expecting a very important call, you may need to take it at an inconvenient moment. Just be careful not to make too many exceptions. Remember, your phone pulls you out of the real world, into an electronic, digital world. The ideal is to spend quality time with the people who are present.