Do you like what your phone is doing to you?

Do you like what your phone is doing to you? Six years ago, my irritable, anxious, lack-of-sleep, distracted, self-worth-hanging-on-every-like lifestyle made me wonder if I should even have a phone at all. Maybe you’ve wondered the same thing…


And before I go any further, let me just say: Technology is amazing! Technology is the reason I can video chat with my brother in New Orleans. Technology has given us robots that vacuum our house (what would we do without you, Roomba?). You’re scrolling through this article right now because of technology!


Technology is amazing, but sometimes…it’s not. Sometimes technology divides us more than connects us. Sometimes technology wastes more time than it saves. Sometimes technology makes us feel worse about ourselves…not better.


So, what do we do about our use—and misuse—of technology? Believe it or not, God has something to say about it… Now, to be clear, Peter never wrote about screen time. And Jesus never said “Thou shalt not have Social Media.” But there are principles in Scripture that speak to this topic.


For instance, the apostle Paul actually talked about how things, like our phones, really do form us. Here’s what he said:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” – Romans 12:2


Did you notice the language he used? It’s almost like he was saying:

Everyone is formed by something:

You’re either conformed to the world

Or you’re transformed by God


This means: Your phone is forming you for better…or for worse. Your phone is forming you to be more like Jesus…or less like Him.


In his book Habits of the Household, Justin Whitmel Earley says it this way:

“We are formed in the image of what we habitually gaze at. The habits of our hearts follow the habits of our phones” – Justin Whitmel Earley, Habits of the Household


So, back to our original question: Do you like what your phone is doing to you?


Or maybe a better question: How can you use your phone for better…not worse? To look more like Jesus…not less like Him?


My Priorities

First, we have to be honest about our priorities. No matter what we say about our priorities, our time will reveal what they really are. Your time and your priorities go hand-in-hand.


And we spend a LOT of time with technology:

The average American spends 7 hours looking at a screen every day1

The average American spends 4 hours and 25 minutes on their phone every day2

The average American spends 2 hours and 24 minutes on Social Media every day3


So, are your 7 hours in front of a screen making your priorities better or worse? Are those 4 ½ hours with your phone helping you to become the person you want to be?


Six years ago, I realized my time—and my priorities—were out of whack. Technology was not helping me become who I wanted to be.


I would be on Facebook at the dinner table. I would scroll through my feed in bed while falling asleep (have you ever had your phone fall on your face? Yeah…me neither). I would check Instagram first thing in the morning. I would even check my email in the shower! (don’t judge me…)


These habits weren’t helping my priorities…they were hurting them! I was so caught up in what technology allowed me to do, that I never paused to ask, “Is it good for me?”


This is the exact concern the Apostle Paul addressed:

 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. – 1 Corinthians 6:12


Did you catch that? There’s a lot I can do with technology. But not everything is beneficial. In other words:


Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.


So, yes, you can check your email in the shower. But is that good for you?

It’s not a sin to look at your phone during dinner. But is that good for your family?

You can check your phone first thing in the morning…but is that helpful?



The next part of that verse is equally convicting. Paul said: “I will not be mastered by anything.” But if you saw how often I checked my phone, it was obvious that I was being mastered. Every buzz and ding kept me coming back for more… like an addiction.


So here’s question:

Am I controlling my phone or is my phone controlling me?


The answer to this question made me realize something had to change. So, I did two things to break the cycle:

First, I started putting my phone to bed.


Here’s what I mean: Before going to bed, I started plugging in my phone in the living room (not the bedroom).


But how do you wake up without your phone? An alarm clock. Did you know they still make those?


And then, when my alarm clock goes off, I make coffee, read Scripture, pray…and then I look at my phone.


Almost like magic, I noticed that my priorities began to shift when the first thing I looked at was Scripture, not my phone…


Second, I turned off notifications.


I’m sure you’ve probably heard that before, but I’m telling you: it’s a game-changer.


When your phone doesn’t buzz and chirp every three seconds, you’ll sense control begin to shift. When you’re not constantly reaching for your phone…you can breathe again. Now decide when to use my phone.


My self-worth

Not only is technology changing our priorities, but it’s also changing our self-worth. Remember, “the habits of our hearts follow the habits of our phones…”


The average American spends 2 hours and 24 minutes on Social Media every day4

A 5,000 person study found that higher social media use correlated with self-reported declines in mental and physical health and life satisfaction.5

Depression, hospitalizations for self-harm, and suicide rates among teens were all stable until around 2012, then they skyrocketed6


Here’s what “skyrocketed,” here means. 7

When did that graph shift? 2011-2012. What happened around that time?

In those two years, Instagram went from 1 million users to 30 million users.

And it’s not just Instagram. In those two years, All social media platforms took off…and so did the mental health crisis.


Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn… All of these apps and algorithms are designed to exploit one thing: Our desperate need for approval. Not just your need…mine too.


Can I be honest? I love it when you like my posts. I love it when you comment. When you talk about what a good dad I am…or you put 🔥🔥🔥 because of a sermon I preached. I love it so much!


Actually…I love it too much.


Because when you don’t like, and you don’t share, and you don’t comment, I wonder what is wrong with me. And I ride the see-saw of approval waiting for you to tell me what I am worth…


But that’s not what Jesus did.

And I know…you might be thinking, “well, Jesus didn’t have Instagram!” You’re right. He didn’t. But you know what he did have? FOLLOWERS. And a lot of ‘em.


And in the middle of His climb to fame, as He was gaining followers by the day, the Apostle John includes a footnote about what was happening inside of Jesus.


In the height of his popularity, John writes:

“But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” – John 2:24-25


As Jesus was gaining followers, likes, and approval, He did something counter-cultural:
He did not entrust himself to them.


Jesus determined: Their words don’t determine my worth


Jesus knew that the people celebrating Him would also cancel Him. Those same people would one day shout “Crucify him!”


Jesus realized that they had no right to tell Him what He was worth. Instead, He looked to His Father in Heaven for His approval. He knew that as long as He had God’s approval, He didn’t need their approval.


And if Jesus did not entrust himself to them, maybe we shouldn’t either…


But let me warn you, making this change won’t be easy. My addiction to social media did not go away quietly. And believe me, I tried it all: screen limits, accountability, putting the apps in another folder…none of it worked. I had to quit cold turkey. So, I removed all social media apps from my phone. I still have the accounts…but they’re not on my hip at all times.


So, what should you do?


Back to where we started: Do you like what your phone is doing to you? If not, maybe today, God is inviting you to change that.


Here are some options for real transformation:

  • Bedtime for your phone (Just because you can doesn’t mean you should)
  • Turn off notifications (I control technology, technology does not control me)
  • Social Media limits (Their words don’t determine my worth)


Technology is forming you. Let’s make sure it’s for the better.



1 2023 April Global Statshot (

2 2023 Cell Phone Usage Statistics: Mornings Are for Notifications (

3 2023 April Global Statshot (

4 2023 April Global Statshot (

5 American Journal of Epidemiology, 2017

6 Jean M. Twenge. “Why increases in adolescent depression may be linked to the technological environment.” Current Opinion in Psychology. 32, (April 2020)

7 Jean M Twenge, Why increases in adolescent depression may be linked to the technological environment, Current Opinion in Psychology, Volume 32, 2020, Pages 89-94, ISSN 2352-250X. (