– written by Chris Carnes
John Breyault, Vice President of Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud at the National Consumers League, commissioned a study in 2012 that found nearly 60% of parents offered cell phones to their children at ages 10 or 11. With the advent of Wi-Fi and LTE, televisions, computers, tablets, and smartphones are merging into one platform. This mergence also marks a divide between what is known as digital immigrants (those born before the advent of these technologies) and digital natives (those born after the advent of these technologies). Digital natives are clearly at the leading edge of grasping these new connected platforms, as well as social media sites where 81% of their generation is on Facebook.
Cyberspace is clearly overtaking the “hours spent” away from television and reinvesting these hours to connected devices. Digital natives ages 8 to 18 spend on average 44.5 hours per week in front of screens (Too Much Time Online, 2015). With the above mentioned technologies and even faster “broadband hungry” technologies on the horizon, we are seeing accessibility to everything including cable programing from a mobile device that fits in a pocket. Kids can literally enter a digital world where boundaries are non-existent and secular ideas await.
The Super-peer Theory states that the media, regardless of device or platform, becomes powerful best friends to children making risky behavior seem normal. The American Life Project found that nearly 93% of youth ages 12 to 17 are on-line, 71% have a cell phone, while 57% report watching videos and visiting social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. The Super-peer is a “friend” not only to children, but also to their parents. This “friend” is very demanding and requires a lot of attention (Health Effects of Media On Children and Adolescents, 2009).
This new best friend eliminates time for spiritual disciplines that strengthens one’s attachment to God such as searching Scriptures, solitude, silence, simplicity, secrecy, simple prayer, and meditation (Why You Do the Things You Do: The Secret to Healthy Relationships, 2006). Searching Scriptures is replaced with searching Facebook or Instagram. Solitude is traded for no downtime, enabling the enemy to cause a separation from God and promote ambivalent behavior. Silence is replaced with email and smartphone alerts. Simplicity’s goal of slowing us down to better seek God has been replaced with the fast paced technological life and bonding with smartphones. Secrecy has been traded for a prideful “like” to a Facebook posting of success or a good deed. Simple prayer and including God in one’s spiritual walk has been replaced with the inclusion of Facebook friends and a walk through cyberspace. Meditation has been replaced with meditating more on what social media thinks rather than what God thinks.
One of the illusions of our secular society is that we have reached a state of spiritual and intellectual maturity and are able to enjoy the fruits of Christianity without having to bother with a relationship with our living God. However, we find ourselves “trapped” in a doorless cage under a false sense of freedom and unwilling to step outside into our Creator’s loving arms.
Our guest author, Chris Carnes, is currently taking classes at Liberty University to receive his Bachelor’s degree in Christian Counseling. Chris is married to Patti, the SoHills Office Administrator. He enjoys studying, spending time with his life group, and yard work with his wife.