Safe Haven Sunday: Follow-Up #3

Safe Haven Sunday: Follow-Up #3

Who Is Controlling Who?

Fr. Mike will spend the next few weeks sharing ideas to make your home a safe haven.

So far we have talked about the importance of Temperance in the use of smartphone and tablets, especially having times when your children turn in their devices each night so that they get some sleep, as well as having places in the house where devices are not allowed, especially bedrooms. Today, I want to focus our attention on a broader issue: we do not own and control our smartphones and tablets, they own and control us.

We like to think that we decide what we use our smartphones and tablets for, that we are in control of the situation, that we are free to do whatever we want. But the data (and our own experience) paints a different picture: 50% of kids will admit that they are “addicted” to their smartphone or tablet, and 60% of parents say their child is “addicted.” And guess what? They are right, because it is a real chemical addiction. Engagement with smartphones, social media and pornography releases a chemical in the brain called Dopamine, which is the exact same chemical that makes us feel good when we smoke, drink, and gamble. In other words, it is highly, highly addictive. So who’s really “in charge” or “free” when it comes to their smartphone? Probably not as many as would like to think they are. For instance, of the 47% of people who have tried to limit how much they use their smartphone, only 30% feel they were successful (1).

This addiction is having incredibly negative effects on you and your children, such as an increase in anxiety, stress, narcissism, depression and loneliness, and sleep deprivation. Also, teenagers who spend 5 hours a day on electronic devices are 71% more likely to have suicide risk factors than those with 1 hour of use (1). So who is really in charge and free? As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Abolition of Man, “what we call Man’s power over nature turns out to be power exercised by some men over other men.”

Again, the solution is easy in principle, but as parents will take difficult conversations with your children and fortitude to implement. It takes Temperance. Help your children develop this virtue!

1) Bankmycell.com, “Smartphone Addiction Facts & Phone Usage Statistics: The Definitive Guide (2019 Update),” https://www.bankmycell.com/blog/smartphone-addiction/#chapter1.

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