I recently ran across some interesting statistics related to the cell phone. According to the report, there are more than 7 billion people on the planet and 5.1 billion of them own a cell phone. But only 4.2 billion people own a toothbrush. (I’m hearing a collective eeeewwww from all you readers!) Mobile coupons are used 10 times more often than traditional coupons. There are now more mobile phones on the planet than there are televisions. 91% of the citizens in our country keep their cell phone within reach 24 hours a day/7 days a week. I fall into the 9% category, much to the chagrin of my spouse – who falls into the 91% category. But this is the statistic that I found most sobering, and why I am writing this blog. 4 out of 5 teens carry a cell phone and 57% of them reported that their cell phone was the “key to their social life.” The key? What happened to meeting somewhere to talk?
I enjoyed speaking to a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group this week. Moms of preschoolers are still lugging diaper bags, baby carriers, strollers and often, another child, whenever they need to go to church, the grocery store or the mall. In addition, they are also carrying a cell phone and/or tablet computer. This was a new thought as I was preparing to speak: these young moms represent the first generation of wireless parents. There is rarely a time when they are “out of touch” with the rest of the world. In fact, most people wouldn’t consider leaving their home without their cell phones and feel a great sense of panic and loss if they discover themselves without them. How are cell phones changing our lives? And – do we want all of the changes that are occurring?
The young moms I spoke to are lucky. They will never have to pull up at a mall, hoping they parked close to the store they needed. They can just pull up a map of the mall on their phone, locate the store, park at the right door and then run in and run out. They can avoid the screams, squeals and begging that they surely would have heard if they had been forced to stroll their child past the toy store or the candy shop. They wouldn’t have to stop and see the turtles at the fountain or ride the train – simply because they would have the ability to avoid that whole section of the mall. There should be a new app any day called “Tantrum Free” that could be a new mom’s best friend. Wireless parenting would have saved me a lot of embarrassing moments and the boys a lot of “time outs” – but there was no such thing as a smart phone when they were young. Wireless parenting has its perks, but I couldn’t help but think of some potential pitfalls as well. I had fun watching my boys faces as we passed the toy store and they saw their idea of heaven on earth. I loved seeing them as they watched the turtles with fascination. They had lots of questions and I had some of the answers. I couldn’t pull my cell phone out for those answers, so we just had to guess or imagine what could be the answer. What should this wireless generation be cautious of as they raise their children? Are they missing some great moments with their children because of their cell phones?
The National Safety Council reports that every 24 seconds an accident occurs that is linked to distracted driving. That accounts for more than just cell phones, but there have been almost 222,800 accidents this year, related to cell phone usage, and this is just the first week of March. Cell phones and distracted driving is an important statistic. But what about cell phones and distracted living?
How many children are being ignored at the dinner table while a parent texts or googles? How many conversations are being interrupted by a call or text? How many conversations are not happening in person because they just texted instead? What will our society look like when the polite thing to do is not make a personal visit?
I’m grateful for the advantages that the cell phone has given our world. But there is a great truth to consider…I’ve yet to hear even one story of God calling someone on a cell phone. We have heard of distracted driving, maybe now we should consider the concept of distracted living. Is your cell phone taking up valuable time that you used to spend thinking, imagining, creating, believing, pondering, praying and listening to that quiet, unspoken inner voice that is God’s? Do your friendships involve long conversations over a good meal? Do your kids talk to you more often in person – or on the phone? Do you have lengthy conversations with the Creator of the universe?
We live in a wireless world. Let’s consider our distractions, and what our cell phones are really costing us. You won’t enter heaven carrying a cell phone!
(I think I just heard my husband gasp!!)