Have you ever...
- Seen a person have a conversation with another friend, via instant messaging–when they’re right next to each other?
- Walked into a subway or a bus filled with people, with their eyes all glued to the screens of their phones?
- Sent a message to somebody in the next room because you were too lazy to walk over to speak to them?
- Had a breakdown upon realizing that you left your phone at home?
These may seem like rather common situations now because of the way that mobile phone usage has pervaded our society, but they are far from normal. Try answering the following questions to see if you are attached to your mobile phone:
While it’s true that we hear God’s “call” to each one of us, in 99.9% of cases it doesn’t refer to a literal phone call. If we fill all our empty time with distractions from our phones–constantly sending messages, flicking through our social media ‘newsfeed’ (which often includes information about strangers and other people who neither know nor care that we exist), blasting music and so on–the inn of our hearts will have no room for Jesus and Mary to enter. Even if we only subscribe to Christian social media posts and listen to Christian music, we still need to take care in guarding the silence of our hearts so that we let God have the necessary time and space to speak to us in prayer and through others. In fact, He is always speaking to us, at every moment–but how often do we hear Him?
Here are some tips to detach yourself from your phone:
1. Set a time limit for when to use your phone and how often to check it. (It’s likely that you use your phone for educational purposes, such as communicating with people working on the same project in school. Even if that is the case, see if you can set a limit on how often you check your phone, or at least a specified time range within which to use it.) These timings shouldn’t include times that are dedicated for spending with others, such as family meals or when you are hanging out with friends– and certainly not prayer time, which is your appointment with God!
2. If you notice that you tend to get tempted to use your phone because of notifications that pop up, then disable the option to show notifications. (Here is an article that you can refer to if you don’t know how to do so.) Better yet, you can prevent it from showing up on your lock screen at all, so your phone screen won’t light up without you touching it.
3. Switch off your phone before you go to bed, and don’t switch it on the first moment that you awake. (If you need an alarm to wake you up in the morning, purchase a cheap alarm clock! They work just as well, minus the distractions.) This way, you can spend that first and last moments of each day with God and our Blessed Mother instead of with an electronic device.
4. If you use your phone to listen to podcasts, homilies and other Catholic videos, try to find a way to download these beforehand so that you don’t have to be connected to the internet in order to use them. (Hint: Podbean allows you to download these, and best of all, the Home has podcasts there! https://www.homeofthemother.org/en/multimedia/podcasts)
5. If you tend to spend excessive time on a particular website or social media platform such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and so on, talk to your spiritual director about whether you should give it up. (If you don’t have one, ask the Lord and our Lady in prayer–and try to find a spiritual director soon!) If you’re not sure what constitutes ‘excessive time’, well... just think, for every minute you spend on them, you could be praying the rosary for souls or watching a formation talk on the Eucharist or our Lady’s perpetual virginity so that you can better explain and defend these truths of the faith!
“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) So whether you use your phone to send a WhatsApp message for a group project or upload a bible verse onto your Instagram page, remember... do it all for the glory of God–and that’s only possible if you are not enslaved to your phone!