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Screens, Society and Scripture - part 2

Series: Topical

Screens, Society and Scripture - part 2

October 25, 2020 | Brent Long

Passage: Proverbs 25:16-

Signs of Drug addiction according to WebMD:

Addiction -- to prescription and street drugs and alcohol -- is a serious problem. If you’re worried that you or a loved one may have an addiction, there are signs to help you know.

  •  You keep taking a drug after it's no longer needed.
  • You need more and more of a substance to get the same effects (called "tolerance"), and you can take more before you feel an effect.
  • You feel strange when the drug wears off. You may be shaky, depressed, sick to your stomach, sweat, or have headaches.
  • You can't stop yourself from using the drug, even if you want to. You are still using it even though it's making bad things happen in your life, like trouble with friends, family, work, or the law.
  • You spend a lot of your time thinking about the drug: how to get more, when you'll take it, how good you feel, or how bad you feel afterward.
  • You have a hard time giving yourself limits. You might say you'll only use "so much" but then can't stop and end up using twice that amount. Or you use it more often than you meant to.
  • You've lost interest in things you once liked to do.
  • You've begun having trouble doing normal daily things, like cooking or working.
  • You drive or do other dangerous things when you are on the drug.
  • You borrow or steal money to pay for drugs.
  • You hide the drug use or the effect it is having on you from others.
  • You're having trouble getting along with co-workers, teachers, friends, or family members. They complain more about how you act or how you've changed.
  • You sleep too much or too little, compared with how you used to. Or you eat a lot more or a lot less than before.
  • You look different. You may have bloodshot eyes, bad breath, shakes or tremors, frequent bloody noses, or you may have gained or lost weight.
  • You have a new set of friends with whom you do drugs and go to different places to use the drugs.
  • You go to more than one doctor to get prescriptions for the same drug or problem.
  • You look in other people's medicine cabinets for drugs to take.

What if we change 1 word on this list? - Change “drug” to “device”

 

  • You keep using a device after it's no longer needed.
  • You need more and more of your device to get the same effects (called "tolerance"), and you have to use it more before you feel an effect.
  • You feel strange when you’re away from your device. You may be shaky or depressed.
  • You can't stop yourself from using the device, even if you want to. You are still using it even though it's making bad things happen in your life, like trouble with friends, family, work, or the law.
  • You spend a lot of your time thinking about the device: how to use it more, when you'll use it, how good you feel, or how bad you feel afterward.
  • You have a hard time giving yourself limits. You might say you'll only use it "so much" but then can't stop and end up using it twice that amount. Or you use it more often than you meant to.
  • You've lost interest in things you once liked to do.
  • You've begun having trouble doing normal daily things, like cooking or working.
  • You drive or do other dangerous things when you are using the device.
  • You borrow or steal money to pay for data or wifi for the device.
  • You hide the device use or the effect it is having on you from others.
  • You're having trouble getting along with co-workers, teachers, friends, or family members. They complain more about how you act or how you've changed.
  • You sleep too much or too little, compared with how you used to. Or you eat a lot more or a lot less than before.
  • You look different. You may have bloodshot eyes, bad breath, shakes or tremors, or you may have gained or lost weight.
  • You have a new set of friends with whom you connect with on your device and go to different online platforms when you use the device.

 

  • Most people are addicted to their devices
    • 2 out of 3 people with smartphones are addicted to their phones.
      • “No-mo-phobia” is the fear of being without your phone
    • 2018 study - people check their phone on average of 52 times per day
    • The average person spends 5.4 hours per day on their phone
      • Most people cannot take a 24 hour technology fast because they are addicted to their phones and rely on it as their source of connection and comfort.

Tonight we will be talking about our addiction to devices. The goal is not to try to convince you of your addiction but to determine if it is ok to be addicted to a device.

 I will be quoting several books throughout the message:

  • 2020 – “Screen Kids” by Gary Chapman (wrote 5 love languages) *recommended
    • Updated version of “Growing up Social” published 2014
  • 2015 – “Screen and teens”
    • A lot has changed in the past 5 years

 Recap from last time:

  • History of how tech companies have grown over the past 20 years
    • Google went from a search engine in a garage in 1998 to making $160 Billion in 2019
      • That is enough money to buy every house in Cincinnati and Dayton
    • Business model of tech companies
      • Includes 3 groups: tech company, advertiser, user
        • Tech company wants to give you what you want to keep you on their platform
        • The more time you spend on their platform, the more advertisements you see
        • The more advertisements you see, the more profits the tech company makes
          • The tech companies are not benevolently providing you a free service but are using you to make money
          • They want to get you hooked and addicted to your phone so they can increase their profits
  •  3 ways tech developers have made it hard for you to stop using your device
    • No stopping cues
      • You can scroll for hours and never find an end. It’s bottomless. Unlike a beginning and end of a newspaper, stopping cues have been eradicated.
    • Screens provide unpredictable rewards
      • In 1971, psychologist Michael Zeiler conducted an experiment with Pigeons
        • Sometimes pigeons would peck a button to get a pellet every time.
        • Other times, food was only delivered some of the time
        • The results found that pigeons peck twice as often when the reward was not guaranteed
      • Unpredictable and intermittent rewards on screens make them even more addicting when you don’t know how many likes you’ll get on your post or what will show up next when you scroll down
    • Screens tap into the power of goals
      • Example: Snapchat streaks where you and a friend snapped each other within a 24 hour period for at least 3 consecutive days. The goal is to keep the steak going as long as possible. Some streaks have been going on for over 1,400 days (4 years). 1 missed day would reset the streak track record
      • These goals set by screens are usually artificial.
        • Screen goals often compete with practical, constructive goals

 

Digital vegetables vs digital candy

-all the ways we use a device can be categorized as either a functional tool or enjoyable entertainment

-digital vegetables are useful tools – calculator, facetime distant relative, GPS, Bible app

-digital candy is pure entertainment – Tiktok, steaming movies, amusing videos

-the addicting part of our devices aren’t the useful tools but the entertaining digital candy

 

What does the Bible have to say about digital candy?

  • Pr 24:13 – “My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste:”
    • There are some good things in life that God has given to us that are immediately gratifying and are to be enjoyed.
      • A high five from a friend, a hug from your kid, kiss from your spouse, gift on you birthday, candy on Halloween, coffee in the morning, your favorite ice cream
    • Pr 25:16 – “Hast thou found honey? Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.”
      • Too much of a good thing is a bad thing
      • Overindulging in a good thing is sin
        • Food is good but consistently overeating is gluttony
        • Intimacy in marriage is good but overindulging in sex outside of marriage is sin
        • Ice cream periodically is good but eating too much will make you diabetic
        • Using your devices as a tool is good but becoming hooked on entertainment without limits is bad
      • Too much of an immediate good thing has bad consequences that follow
    • Common sense media put out a survey of 13-17 year olds
      • 2012 – 41% had a smartphone and 34% used social media
      • 2018 – 89% had a smartphone and 70% used social media
        • Smartphone and social media usage for teens doubled in 6 years.
      • Kids age 8 and under spend an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes a day on screen media
      • Teens spend 7 hours and 22 minutes a day on screens (not including school or homework)
      • According to pew research, 97% of boys and 83% of girls play games on a device
        • MRI scans found significant differences in the brains of children who reported using smartphone, tablets and video games for more than 7 hours a day
        • Children reported spending more than 2 hours a day on screens got lower scores on thinking and language tests
        • The brain scans showed that kids with a lot of screen time had a premature thinning of the cortex, the outermost layer of the brain which processes information from the 5 senses. This thinning of the cortex usually doesn’t start showing up until someone is in their 60’s. When on screens, you’re not using all of your 5 senses and that part of your brain starts to decline.
      • Psychiatrist and screen expert Dr. Victoria Dunckley says, “Screen time actually is very much like a drug, in fact it’s like a stimulant, not unlike caffine, or nicotine, or even cocaine. So it raises arousal levels, it changes brain chemistry.”
      • In the documentary “Screenagers”, Dr. Delaney Ruston says, “It’s amazing that there’s many studies that look at MRI scans of the brain of kids who play a lot of video games, 20 hours or more of video games a week (3 hours a day). And when they compare them to people who are addicted to, say, drugs or alcohol, their brains scans are similar. So, something is really happening on a physiological level. It’s not just psychological”
      • You might wonder how video games can be like drugs since no substance is involved. The eyes are the only outward extension of the central nervous system, affecting the brain directly. That’s the gateway. Smartphones light up the same area of the brain as drugs.
      • Pleasure can be overdone
        • Dopamine excites the next neuron
          • Neurons like to be stimulated and then rest
          • They don’t like to be overloaded.
            • Chronic overstimulation of any neuron anywhere in the brain will lead to neuron death
            • Excessive dopamine kills neurons
              • Neurons don’t want to die so they have a defense mechanism by down regulating the number of receptors
              • This makes is harder for the dopamine to find a receptor to bind to
              • The more the dopamine produced, the more receptors go down
              • The more receptors go down, the more dopamine that needs to be produced to get the same feeling of excitement
              • Keep going for bigger and bigger hits until finally all neurons finally do die
              • Dopamine is wonderful in moderation but dangerous in excess.
            • Serotonin puts a neuron to rest
              • This chemical is about well-being and cannot be overdone, overused or worn out.
              • The brain uses serotonin to regulate mood, emotions, sleep schedule, and appetite.
              • Serotonin is closely related to happiness and most antidepressant drugs work by increasing serotonin levels.
              • Serotonin levels can be naturally raised by exercise and proper nutrition
                • Screen time naturally fights against the sources for serotonin by often limiting exercise and healthy eating
              • Addiction to devices and gaming is real
                • 2019 annual fortnite tournament
                  • 19,000 fans gathered to watch 3 days of online gaming
                    • That is about 1/2 of the seating in Great American ball park
                  • Winner was a 16 year old that won $3 million
                  • A total of $30 million was given in prize money
                • Hilarie Cash PhD works with treating screen addictions
                  • “the guys who come to us have been gaming since they were 4 years old. Their identities are built around their gaming prowess. As a kid, you’re still a nobody, but in a game, you can make a big name for yourself…You can have social status. And that is much harder and slower to achieve in the real world.”

 

5 ways being addicted to screens can hindered our relationships

 

“Screen Kids” by Gary Chapman

  1. Lack of affection
    1. Don’t feel close to anyone in family
    2. Fam members more interested in screens than being a close-knit family
    3. Desensitized
    4. Limited Eye contact, hugs, affirming words
    5. In fact, it’s reported that one out of five divorces is blamed on Facebook. The study, published by the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, researchers determined that people who use Facebook excessively are more likely to succumb to marital or relationship issues.
    6. Social media has made distant relationships close and close relationships distant.
  2. Lack of appreciation
    1. Sense of entitlement
    2. Unaware or unconcerned of sacrifices others make for them
    3. The enemy of gratitude is indulgence
  3. Anger mismanaged
    1. Short fuse to get angry
    2. Getting angry about petty, selfish things
    3. Reacting in outrageous ways
  4. Inability to apologize
    1. Shifting blame to someone else
    2. Justifying mistakes
    3. Not accepting responsibility for actions
    4. Running from problems instead of working thru problems
  5. Decreased attention span
    1. CDC website tracks the annual reported cases of ADHD by parents
      1. 1999 - 6% of kids age 3-17 reported with ADHD
      2. 2018 - 10%
    2. People are looking for the unattainable, amazing and the beyond-exciting
    3. Constant exposure to visual effects and graphics captivate our imagination but leave the real world looking dull

 

 

 

  • Pr 27:7 – “The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”
    • A soul is only full thru God and His Word
      • A soul satisfied by God does not need entertainment to fill empty voids
    • A hungry soul will try to fill the void with whatever is the easiest to obtain
      • Entertainment on devices will always keep your soul still hungry
      • If you’re not careful, you’ll get caught in a vicious cycle of filling a void in your life with a device that will never satisfy but keep you longing for more
        • Illustration: like eating cotton candy
          • Immediately sweet, keeps you busy eating but leaves you hungry
        • Eventually, the innocent enjoyment from a device will leave you so empty that you will need something else to try to fill the void.
          • “to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”

 

There is a darker side to the addiction of a device - pornography

 

We live in a sex driven culture similar to the sensuality in the church of Corinth. We cannot pretend like the temptations are not there and dismiss the issue because it’s an awkward conversation. If we fail to give deliberate Biblical guidance in this area, then the internet, media and culture will teach our children the wrong, twisted and unbiblical view of intimacy. As adults, we need to be careful not to fall into the same warped way of thinking too.

 

According to NetNanny.com, small children typically view explicit images online accidentally at home by clicking a link or mistyping a Google search.

  • 82% of children are exposed to explicit images online by age 11.
    • By 6th grade, 8 of 10 will already have been exposed
  • Per Google Analytics, searches for explicit images increase by 4,700% when children are out of school.
  • 12% of all websites are dedicated to explicit images.

 

 

Accountability

 

  • Keep screens in public places where they can be seen
    • Hard to do with cell phones – accountability software
      • Finsta accounts = fake secondary accounts
        • Typically private accounts where inappropriate content is shared
          • Rule of thumb – if you shouldn’t post it in public, you shouldn’t post it in private
        • According to findmykids blog, they made a list of the 10 most dangerous social media apps for kids
          • Tiktok (#1)
          • Whisper
          • Instagram (#3)
          • Tinder
          • Snapchat (#5)
          • Tumblr
          • Kik
          • Chatspin
          • OkCupid
          • IMVU
        • Accountability and visibility – should not go online alone or search in secret
          • Don’t ask, “How far can I go and still be ok?” but “How pure can I be?”
          • You will never grow as a Christian if you try to do the minimum allowable requirement for God but you will if you try to go above and beyond for God.
        • Find protective software – net nanny, covenant eyes, bark, qustodio, spyic, family link, forcefield
        • As the stat indicated, 75% of kids are allowed to sleep with their phones. The bedroom is where the majority of sexting takes place. Since 25% of American teens have sent nude pictures – this is a significant reason for minimizing access to devices at night. Moreover, teens sleeping with their phones is a significant cause of teen sleep deprivation.
          • Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings, said that one of his biggest competitors is sleep.

 

 

Process of pulling away from a device addiction

  • Urge to want it back
  • Withdraw – agitation and anxiety of not having it
  • Boredom
  • Discovery of something else to do – reflection, ideas, creativity, inspiration, vision

 

 

Quiet time is good – Psalm 46:10 – “be still and know that I’m God”

            -we need time to process and think.

            -Our minds need rest.

-we were not created to be omniscient and to know everything, nor do we have the capability to do it

            -information and news spreads faster than ever

-be careful not to get caught in the trap of thinking that you need to be first to hear the breaking news or notifications that could happen any second

            -thinking leads to thanking

-not being rushed and distracted allows one to be more observant of their circumstances to see what others do for them

-quiet meditation results in less entitlement and more contentment/gratefulness.

                        -less selfish, less self-centered, less argumentative, less demanding

  • Keep track of how much time you spend on devices and set a limit.

 

Places and times to consider screen-free

  • Meals together
  • Car rides together – quality conversations, quiet and downtime are also necessary
  • Bedrooms
  • Vacations
  • Choose one weekend day or week day

 

3 Rules from a doctor’s perspective on the social dilemma

  • no devices in bedroom 30 minutes before bed
  • No social media until 16 years old
  • Develop time schedule for devices

 

The former designers of the social media apps shared some of their personal habits

  • they delete all social media apps from their phones and turn off all notifications
  • They don’t let their kids go on social media and give them little screen time
  • Software developer for Twitter had to write his own code to develop his own version of the app to break his own addiction to the app he helped develop
  • Is technology bringing your family closer together or is it driving it further apart?

 

Invitation:

 

Who is in control?

  • Do you control your devices or do your devices control you?
    • Use your devices as a tool that serves you, don’t let it become an entertainment that obsesses you.
    • Are there responsibilities in life that you are not fulfilling because of screens?
      • Neglecting time with God, homework, time with family, church, sleep, face to face time with friends, looking for a job, chores around the house…
    • Are you addicted to your devices?
      • Are you ok with being addicted to your devices?
      • Is your family ok with you being addicted to your devices?
        • Maybe you need to have a family discussion about balancing screen time in your home.
      • Is God ok with you being addicted to your devices?
        • Talk to the Lord about how you are balancing your time.

 

Series Information

Paul's favorite church may have well been the church at Philippi. He shares three things that are encouraging to him and should be part of our life. He first give Thanks - there is always reason for the child of God to give thanks. Secondly he prayers. We must always pray one for another. Three Paul is confident that God will complete the good work He has started in our life.

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