Thursday, 23 July 2015

For the love of technology....

Technology....we can't live without it in today's world but has it become like a drug to us? I've read a couple of articles recently and various comments relating to the amount of time we should allow our children to spend using technology....tablets, phones, laptops, computer games, etc. Some suggest we should severely restrict their daily usage while others suggest they should have a choice to spend unlimited time on them. But before we run away with all the arguments for either view, I just wish to ask a simple question that may be helpful: Do we control technology or does technology control us?

One day, a while back, I was walking into town and I saw a woman walking 2 young children home from school. Bag slung over her shoulder, she was absolutely engrossed with her phone....texting, social networking, playing games, whatever with it. The 2 children were holding on to her from behind and she seemed oblivious to anything going on around her. I just thought to myself 'How sad!' Apart from her possibly not being alert enough to protect them from sudden danger, what sort of message was she conveying to them? Was her phone more important to her than them? Could she not put it away and enjoy a nice walk and talk with them that would make them feel loved and appreciated?

Now I have a mobile phone and use technology every day of the week (and even waste time on it) but this certainly got me thinking! I take my phone practically everywhere with me. I love connecting with people through Facebook, Messenger and Whatsapp. I prepare studies, design PowerPoints and other documents on my computer to use in teaching children God's Word....and even manage my own simple website, I research the internet for pictures, information and use online Bible concordance and commentaries. In fact, I say, 'Give me a Bible and a computer and I'm happy.' (Maybe just throw a smart phone in too!) However, I've had to ask myself: 'Is technology my god? Do I spend more time on Facebook than having fellowship with God? Are my screens more important to me than building good relationships with other people?'

Going South helps me see how much I depend on technology to communicate with others. Once I cross the border into Southern Ireland my O2 big bundle package does not cover data, calls or sending texts. So, data is switched off, and only necessary calls and texts are made. O2 gets enough from me! But that means every time we go to a home or restaurant that has WiFi, out come the phones and we're all sitting communicating via Whatsapp, Messenger and Facebook as well as conversing with each other! That's the modern world that we live in.

No one can deny that technology has become an essential part of life in the modern world. Most jobs require the ability to use it to some degree or other. Outside of work we still Google for information, book holidays and shop online, watch movies and news, call, text, Skype, social network and so on. We are becoming increasingly dependent on technology but we need to remember that it is not the devices that are wrong; it's how we use them that matters. I know that some people's work requires them to spend much time on computerized devices. I understand that instant communication is an necessary part of modern life. And, yes, social networking does provide company and a means to keep in touch with people. However, it is our own responsibility to determine whether or not technology becomes our master.

Now I know that it is very difficult to control a teenager's use of technology. They could be right beside you as you work using their phones to plan badness. They could be doing homework assignments but really communicating with others and watching filth. Confiscate their phone and they will find some other way around it. Quite frankly, you cannot babysit them 24/7. However, we do need to do our best to moderate their use so that they enjoy other activities besides computer games and that they develop the ability to communicate with people of all ages outside of the cyber world. But may I hasten to say, not all teenagers use technology for wrong purposes.

I, myself, face the daily challenge of loving the Lord my God with all my heart, soul and mind. So, I must take care lest technology becomes like an addictive drug that draws my mind away from the Lord. It's like a drug that says: Just one more quick look on Facebook to see what my friends are up to and how many likes I have on my page....rather than finding a quiet place to be alone with God. Or maybe I've been searching for hours for something online and I'm just so mentally drained that I cannot benefit as well as I should from reading my Bible and praying. Yes, I'm human and do not always succeed where I should.

There are 3 words that help me monitor my use of technology so that it does not master me to become my god and they are CONTROL, BALANCE and DISCIPLINE. They speak for themselves. I must control what I use technology for. I must strike the right balance between my screens, other activities and family. I must discipline myself as to how much time I spend on my screens. And, of course, there's the issue of SAFETY. I must do what I can to protect myself and my family online, That's why I have HomeSafe protection from my internet that when I Google for kids Bible pictures of Adam and Eve, I don't end up on some dodgy website with inappropriate pictures!

1 Samuel 9v27
In conclusion, I was reading 1 Samuel 9 earlier today (and I personally still do prefer to read the hard copy of God's Word in my devotions). I know this passage is about Samuel anointing Saul to be king. However, these words: 'But stand thou still a while that I may shew thee the word of God' have an application for each one of us. To me, this is more than just skimming over the Bible stories and facts. It is leaving the distractions aside to hear the LORD speak personally to me. Let us ever purposely take time out from our busy lives with all its technology and just be still, waiting for the LORD to speak to us from His Word.