Am I Addicted to Electronic Media?
“I love, love, love texting! I think it’s the greatest thing ever. I guess you could say that it has taken over my life.”—Alan.
WHEN your parents entered their teens, TV and radio were the main forms of electronic media. Back then, phones were just phones—they carried only voice transmissions and had to be connected to a wall outlet. Does that sound hopelessly old-fashioned? A girl named Anna would say so. “My parents grew up in the technological dark ages,” she says. “They’re just now figuring out how to use some of the features on their cell phone!”
Today you can take a call, listen to music, watch a show, play a game, e-mail your friends, take a picture, and access the Internet—all on a single device you can carry in your pocket. Because you’ve grown up with computers, cell phones, TV, and the Internet, you may think nothing of using them all the time. Your parents, though, may feel that you’re addicted. If they express concern, don’t write off their comments as being out of touch with reality. “When anyone is replying to a matter before he hears it,” said wise King Solomon, “that is foolishness on his part.”—Proverbs 18:13.
Do you wonder why your parents might be concerned? Take the test below to see if you show signs of addiction to some form of electronic media.
Test Yourself—‘Am I Addicted?’
One encyclopedia defines addiction as “habitual repetition of excessive behavior that a person is unable or unwilling to stop, despite its harmful consequences.” Look at the breakdown of that definition below. Read the quotes, and see if you have said or done anything similar. Then fill in your answers.
Excessive behavior. “I would spend hours playing electronic games. They robbed me of sleep and dominated my conversations with others. I isolated myself from my family and became lost in the imaginary worlds of the games I played.”—Andrew.
In your opinion, how much time each day is it reasonable to spend using electronic media? ․․․․․
How much time do your parents think you should spend? ․․․․․
What is the total amount of time each day that you actually spend texting, watching TV, uploading pictures and comments onto a Web site, playing electronic games, and so on? ․․․․․
After looking at your answers above, would you say that your use of electronic media is excessive?
□ Yes □ No
Unable or unwilling to stop. “My parents see me texting all the time and tell me that I’m doing it too much. But compared to other kids my age, I hardly text at all. I mean, compared to my parents, sure, I text more than they do. But that’s like comparing apples to oranges—they’re 40 and I’m 15.”—Alan.
Have your parents or friends said that you spend too much time on some form of electronic media?
□ Yes □ No
Have you been unwilling or unable to limit your use of that form of media?
□ Yes □ No
Harmful consequences. “My friends text all the time—even while driving. How unsafe is that!”—Julie.
“When I first got my cell phone, I was always calling someone or texting someone. It was all I did. It damaged my relationship with my family and even with some of my friends. Now I notice that when I’m out with my friends and talking to them, they constantly interrupt and say: ‘Oh, hold on. I have to answer a text message.’ That’s one reason I’m not closer to those friends.”—Shirley.
Do you ever read text messages or send them while driving, when in class, or during Christian meetings?
□ Yes □ No
When you are conversing with family or friends, do you constantly interrupt to answer e-mails, phone calls, or text messages?
□ Yes □ No
Is your use of electronic media stealing time from needed sleep or distracting you from studying?
□ Yes □ No
Can you see the need to make some changes? If so, consider the following suggestions.
How to Be Balanced
If you use some form of electronic media—whether a computer, a cell phone, or another device—ask yourself the four questions below. Applying the Bible-based advice and following a few simple dos and don’ts will help you to stay safe and in control.
● What is the content? “Fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.”—Philippians 4:8, Today’s English Version.
● When am I using it? “For everything there is an appointed time.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1.
✔ Do set a limit on how much time you will spend sending and receiving calls and text messages, watching programs, or playing games.
● With whom am I associating? “Do not be misled. Bad associations spoil useful habits.”—1 Corinthians 15:33.
✔ Do use electronic media to strengthen the ties you have with people who encourage you to develop good habits.—Proverbs 22:17.
X Don’t fool yourself—you will adopt the standards, language, and thinking of those you choose to socialize with through e-mail, texting, TV, video, or the Internet.—Proverbs 13:20.
● How much time am I spending? “Make sure of the more important things.”—Philippians 1:10.
✔ Do keep track of how much time you spend using electronic media.
X Don’t ignore the comments of your friends or the direction of your parents if they say that you’re spending too much time with some form of media.—Proverbs 26:12.
Speaking of using electronic media in a balanced way, Andrew, quoted earlier, sums up the matter well: “Electronics are fun, but only for a brief amount of time. I’ve learned not to allow technology to become a wedge that separates me from my family and friends.”
READ MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC IN VOLUME 2, CHAPTER 30
How can you convince your parents to let you have some fun?
“Do not become wise in your own eyes. Fear Jehovah and turn away from bad.”—Proverbs 3:7.
To control your use of the phone, let your friends know that you have blackout times when you will not immediately answer text messages, e-mails, or phone calls.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
Any pictures of yourself or comments about your activities that you post on a Web site today may still be accessible by potential employers and others many years from now.
If I develop a problem controlling my use of ․․․․․, I will resolve to spend only ․․․․․ a week using this form of media.
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
● Why might it be difficult for you to see that you are addicted to some form of electronic media?
● What might happen if you fail to control your use of electronic media?
[Blurb on page 262]
“Several things helped me to overcome my addiction to TV. I forced myself to limit the amount of time I spent. I constantly talked with my mom about my problem. And I prayed a lot too.”—Kathleen
[Picture on page 263]
Do you control your electronic devices, or do they control you?