We are the "tech-savvy" Gen-Z—the generation born and raised by the growing virtual world. Social media and technology have infiltrated every single aspect of our lives. We use technology for everything. It dominates our lives—whether we realise it or not.
Our phones keep us connected. Our TV's entertain us. The internet gives us information on anything we want to know. A world without our devices seems comparable to the dark ages. Even listening to music would be completely different without the technology we have today. It's a massive part of our lives, and more often than not, we don't even realise it.
As Gen-Z, we've grown up in a world where we have everything on demand. From TV shows to music to news, it's all laid out for us. Without these, we'd be seeing plays instead of TV, listening to music only in concerts, and to learn we'd have to go to the library. Things are always instant for us, so we expect everything else to be instant when that is not the case in reality.
Our Screens in Lockdown
Now, when we may find ourselves in a long and dreary lockdown, it seems like the time we have to fill has doubled. Yet, even after studying and doing everything we need to do, it still seems like we have so much 'extra time'.
We all know that we shouldn't waste our time, that we need to "make the best use of the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16). Like me, maybe you started lockdown with determination and zeal to do so, but as lockdown extends time and time again, we notice that fire slowly dying. As the fire dies, we start to believe it's okay to waste our time and eventually, we build up a tolerance for wasting our time. Consequently, social media has become more significant in our lives as we rely on it more and more to stay entertained.
With online learning, we easily spend 5 hours in front of our laptops, plus the additional time we spend watching videos or scrolling through our feeds. The Australian Health Department recommends no more than 2 hours of screen time. Yet, we see our screen time on our laptops and phones nearing or even reaching double digits (really, you should have a look at your screen time. It might just surprise you!).
A survey of over 1000 Australians showed that the average screen time on phones being 5.5 hours daily, with Gen-Z’s having a higher screen time than any other generation (an average of 7.3 hours). Even the average 5.5 hours would add up to 2.7 months every year, and with our 7.3-hour average, it would be 3.6 months every year spent solely on our phones. So if we use our phones for approximately 67 years of our (possibly) 80-year life, we would be on our phones for 20.3 years of our whole lives. Yes, as Gen-Z, we spend 20 years of our lives on our phones.
A few hours on Youtube or Instagram is nothing today. But added up, you will unknowingly end up wasting so much priceless time. This is exactly how Satan wants it, that you just do it bit by bit and eventually lead you to problems, regrets and grave damage.
The Truth of it All
But of course, social media is not all bad. God uses media to share His word to others, and it's used as a source to connect and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ from across the entire world!
Although amazing things are done with technology, the so-called 'truth' we see in the media is often twisted. Social media mixes so many worldviews where nothing is neutral; almost none are true or match up with what the Bible says.
To tell right from wrong, we need to discern everything we hear and see on social media. As it says in Hebrews 5:14, "But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil". Discernment comes with growing spiritual maturity and a strong foundation on the truth. With lies everywhere in our lives, it is so important that we know the truth and keep it deep in our hearts.
In the book 'Lies Young Women Believe' by Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth and Dannah Gresh, the impact of wrong worldviews is compared to an IV drip, slowly dripping poison into our bodies. The book also explains how we first fall into lies by just listening to them in the first place, and social media is an open book of lies that we constantly read.
They write, "It all comes down to whether you're going to let the world's values, morals, and thinking drip day by day into your system, or you're going to intentionally choose to be exposed to input that will help you become more wise and godly." So, let's learn to set our minds on things above. Things that we may not be able to see or touch or experience now, but things that are actually significant that we will carry for eternity.
Matthew 6:19-21 says, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
Getting in Control
As much as we'd like to, at this point, we might not be able to say that we have control over our screen time. Addiction is real, and it's something that must be overcome.
Ask yourself a few questions, test yourself.
- Is the time I spend on my devices more than enjoyment?
- Do I feel the need to be on/check my phone?
- Do I depend on my phone more than I depend on God?
- When I use my phone, do I lose track of time and forget about everything else?
If we find ourselves stuck somewhere, we need to ask for help. First, pray and ask God to guide you and give you the strength to overcome the struggles. Then, ask for help from others to help keep you in check and set limits if needed.
Humans created technology, so we should be in control. Yet many people live their lives around their phones, having their phone or social media as masters of their lives. If we aren't in that situation, we shouldn't just 'walk past' those who are. Instead, we should pray for them. Being addicted to our phones is just as dangerous as any other addiction; it will snowball and eventually overcome us.
I stopped using social media for five days, this is what I learnt
For the past five days, I stopped using my phone. No social media, no internet, nothing for five days. Apart from essential school work, I stopped using my devices.
Before I started, I was honestly puzzled at how I was going to spend my week. It seemed really hard beforehand. But, when I did start, I realised just how much technology impacted my life. A habit I realised I had was that, at times, I would subconsciously bring my phone with me, even though I wouldn't use it. But, again, we rarely ever realise just how much we use our phones or the impact it has on our daily lives.
It was surprisingly easy and enjoyable to stop using my phone and the internet. It was nice to take a break from the virtual world and look more at the real world around me. I spent more time practising skills, studying, bonding with my family, and it really helped me use my time wisely.
We must live in reality, not a made-up world with false expectations and ideals. By not using my phone or the internet for five days, I could see and appreciate my surroundings, the little things that would otherwise go mostly unnoticed.
I deeply encourage you to give up social media and the internet for five days or maybe even more. If possible, do it with a friend so you can encourage each other, as well as share and grow together from the experiences you had during that time.
Pray that during this time, where the end of the pandemic is nowhere to be seen, that God will use lockdown to teach and shape us to become more like Christ. Pray that God protects us from Satan and his temptations and that we can continue to grow and walk with Him.