I will admit, my family and I have fully embraced technology; however, we do not currently own self-driven cars. We enjoy modern conveniences such as depositing checks via phone photo (one of my favorites), having free video chats with loved ones across the country, and watching a recent Disney flick with one “click”.

As many of us are “wowed” with the constant onslaught of technological innovations such as self-driving cars, virtual reality glasses, and potential visits to Mars, we are noticing several undesirable consequences.

The simple fact that you can take out your phone to check e-mail, receive instant text messages, surf the web, and receive accolades in the form of “Likes” has led to new addictions.

             Six percent to 10% of smartphone users display signs of Internet addiction, estimates Phil Reed, a professor of psychology at Swansea University, in the U.K. While there’s currently no standard for what constitutes smartphone addiction, some experts define it as spending more than seven hours a day using the phone and experiencing withdrawal symptoms when cut off from the device.[1]

Because of its accessibility, many of us use our phone for work-related functions, making it difficult to disconnect from our device.

Yet there is a more recent phenomenon creating a new potential addiction – binge-watching. With the advent of streaming movies and television shows, our daily consumption of TV watching has escalated.

            In fact, according to a 2015 survey, some 86 percent of trailing Millennials and even 33 percent of those over 69 years old engage in binge-watching TV series.[2]

 

While there are no solid statistics yet as to the average number of hours spent watching streamed shows, Netflix reported that most Americans consider “binge-watching” to be watching two to six episodes in one sitting. That equals 60 to 252 minutes of TV consumption in one sitting!

My family enjoys a couple shows, and I have noticed the strong pull to continue watching, especially when there is a “cliff-hanger” (thank you, Hollywood), and all it takes is a “click” to see what happens next. Before you know it, two hours have passed and you wonder where the day/night went. This “service” has led to a host of sleep problems for many who view movies on a tablet while in bed. Stimulating the mind with light and images is not conducive to falling asleep.

Close-up view of hands using laptop

What if, instead of watching one more episode, we wrote an encouraging e-mail to a missionary we support, our pastor, or other pastors? Think of how an encouraging word to you lifts your spirits and may even strengthen your resolve in an endeavor.  Pastors bear the burdens of their church members, contend with criticism and complaints, and counsel people on issues that would turn our stomachs. Yes, Christ is their strength, for they could not effectively serve Him without His strength. However, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (Proverbs 25:11) The same is true for missionaries. They are encouraged to hear that someone is praying specifically for them, and it takes just a few minutes of our time!

 

 

 

How many encouraging e-mails can we send during that “binge-watching” span of time (23 to 43 minutes per episode)? The little things make a big difference, and we have more time than we may think to make a difference in the lives of others – one less episode at a time!

 

[1] https://www.addiction.com/addiction-a-to-z/technology-addiction/technology-addiction-101/ accessed December 16, 2016
[2] https://www.statista.com/topics/2508/binge-watching-in-the-us/ accessed December 16, 2016

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