A-1 - Encouraged by What You Read?

How much of your day is spent looking at a screen? Remember that “screen” includes smartphones, computers, tablets, televisions, movies, jumbotrons, video games, digital billboards, and e-books. One online source estimated there may be a total of 8 billion screens in the world.1 Now let me ask you a more indelicate question: If you are a parent, how much of your child’s day is spent looking at a screen?

In a recent article entitled “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?,” San Diego State University psychology professor Jean M. Twenge states that research indicates that young people who spend lots of time looking at screens tend to feel isolated and lonely, get less sleep, and lack ambition.2

This article was adapted from Dr. Twenge’s new book, which is provocatively entitled iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us. In this work, she says the average teenager spends 6 to 8 hours a day looking at screens. Most of this screen time is spent engaged in social media and texting on smartphones. Dr. Twenge also says teenagers that spend more time looking at screens are less happy, more depressed, and at a higher risk for suicide, and they also read very little.3

Some people reading these ominous studies that reveal so many negatives associated with screen watching will inevitably say that correlation is not causation. In other words, there may be significant reasons why a generation of youths tends to struggle other than too much screen time. This seems quite reasonable since children have always been deeply affected by spiritual, familial, and cultural factors. Yet even if only part of the negatives associated with screen technologies is valid, it surely gives us a reason to reflect.

Of course, it isn’t just youths who spend inordinate amounts of time looking at screens. Virtually everyone has been affected by the new screen culture. All of us know middle-aged people who handle their smartphones so much that the phones seem to be part of their hands. One study revealed that some people touch their cell phones 100 to 150 times a day.

As a scholar and author, I spend a lot of time looking at screens (mostly computer, but also television). After all, I wrote this online article while looking at a screen, and you are likely reading it on a screen. But I also schedule my week to have days where I don’t look at any screens at all. On such days, I look forward to spending time with my family and also alone with my thoughts and in prayer.4 I also encourage my adult children to spend whole days away from screens.

More and more studies indicate that if you put down your cell phone, close your computer, turn off your television, and pick up a physical book and read it, you’ll be a more informed and fulfilled person. Add the prayerful reading of Scripture and a walk in nature, and you’ll likely be well on your way to experiencing a profound sense of peace and rest in life.

Endnotes
  1. Shawn DuBravac, “How Many Screens Are There in the World?,” ShawnDuBravac.com (blog), January 27, 2016, http://shawndubravac.com/2016/01/how-many-screens-are-there-in-the-world/.
  2. Jean M. Twenge, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?,” The Atlantic, September 2017, https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/.
  3. Jean M. Twenge, iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us (New York: Atria Books, 2017).
  4. See my article “Do You Like Being Alone with Your Thoughts?

Check out more from Dr. Kenneth Samples @Reasons.org

 

About The Author

Kenneth R. Samples

I believe deeply that "all truth is God’s truth." That historic affirmation means that when we discover and grasp truth in the world and in life we move closer to its divine Author. This approach relies on the Christian idea of God’s two revelatory books - the metaphorical book of nature and the literal book of Scripture. As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. My writings and lectures at RTB focus on showing how the great doctrinal truths of the faith (the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, creation ex nihilo, salvation by grace, etc.) are uniquely compatible with reason. This approach reflects the historic Christian apologetics statement - "faith seeking understanding." I work to help myself and others fulfill Peter's words in 2 Peter 3:18: "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." As an RTB scholar I have a great passion to help people understand and see the truth and relevance of Christianity's truth-claims. • Biography • Resources • Upcoming Events • Promotional Items Kenneth Richard Samples began voraciously studying Christian philosophy and theology when his thirst for purpose found relief in the Bible. He earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and social science from Concordia University and his MA in theological studies from Talbot School of Theology. For seven years, Kenneth worked as Senior Research Consultant and Correspondence Editor at the Christian Research Institute (CRI) and regularly cohosted the popular call-in radio program, The Bible Answer Man, with Dr. Walter Martin. As a youth, Kenneth wrestled with "unsettling feelings of meaninglessness and boredom," driving him to seek answers to life's big questions. An encounter with Christian philosophy in Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis led Kenneth to examine the New Testament and "finally believe that Jesus Christ is the divine Son of God, the Lord and Savior of the world." From then on, he pursued an intellectually satisfying faith. Today, as senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe (RTB), Kenneth uses what he's learned to help others find the answers to life's questions. He encourages believers to develop a logically defensible faith and challenges skeptics to engage Christianity at a philosophical level. He is the author of Without a Doubt and A World of Difference, and has contributed to numerous other books, including: Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men, The Cult of the Virgin, and Prophets of the Apocalypse. He has written articles for Christianity Today and The Christian Research Journal, and regularly participates in RTB's podcasts, including Straight Thinking, a podcast dedicated to encouraging Christians to utilize sound reasoning in their apologetics. He also writes for the ministry's daily blog, Today’s New Reason to Believe. An avid speaker and debater, Kenneth has appeared on numerous radio programs such as Voice America Radio, Newsmakers, The Frank Pastore Show, Stand to Reason, White Horse Inn, Talk New York, and Issues Etc., as well as participated in debates and dialogues on topics relating to Christian doctrine and apologetics. He currently lectures for the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. Kenneth also teaches adult classes at Christ Reformed Church in Southern California. Over the years Kenneth has held memberships in the American Philosophical Association, the Evangelical Philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society, and the Evangelical Press Association. The son of a decorated World War II veteran, Kenneth is an enthusiastic student of American history, particularly the Civil War and WWII. His favorite Christian thinkers include Athanasius, Augustine, Pascal, and C. S. Lewis. He greatly enjoys the music of the Beatles and is a die-hard Los Angeles Lakers fan. Kenneth lives in Southern California with his wife, Joan, and their three children.

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