Do You Have A Smart Phone?

Do You Have A Smart Phone?

Our family recently got smart phones.  Yes, I know, everyone  has had one for years.  But the Kummerers are always a little slow on the technological uptake.  We still have a TV with a converter box, because our set is too old to get a digital signal.  Only one computer in our house is hooked to the printer.  And way back in the dark ages, we were one of the last families I knew to get a telephone answering machine.

But now we have smart phones, and our lives are forever changed.  You don’t even want to know how many texts my teen daughters send each month (though, truth be told, I am not far behind).  And I have achieved a whole new level of accessibility and competence.   I respond to texts as quickly as possible, so people know they’ve connected with me.  I can use the map function to find the nearest Chick-Fil-A when I’ve got a car full of teenagers for an out of town sporting event or competition.  I can check my email wherever I am.  I can post on Facebook so people know when I’m at the grocery store, or the ballet.  And of course I can play Words with Friends and Angry Birds.

But here’s what I’ve noticed.  All this connectivity and access has in some ways made me less engaged and less responsive…

…because I see emails, but I am not in the right place or frame of mind to write a thoughtful response (and I can’t type a lot on that little keyboard, anyway), so sometimes I forget to respond at all.

…because playing Words with Friends can substitute for actual interactions with those friends.  We’re playing a virtual game, and I think I’m interacting, when all I’m really doing is typing “hazel” for 60 points.

…because I feel the temptation to fill any quiet moment with checking various updates on my phone.  Where I used to think, or talk to the people around me, I can instead just look at my screen.

What’s your worst smart phone story?  Here’s mine:  recently, I came into our den to sit with my girls while they were doing homework.  I was supposed to be listening to an oral presentation… but I was really playing Words with Friends.  So every time I heard the notification, I looked down (“don’t worry, sweetie, I’m still listening”) to play another word.  I didn’t fool them, even if for a few minutes I fooled myself.   Their observation?  “Mom, you’re not really here!”

Don’t mis-hear me.  I do love my phone, and there are myriad ways in which it makes life and ministry better.  Quick communications are fabulous via text or email from the phone.  Maps have saved us from minor distress on numerous occasions.  And being able to check in on our girls gives me assurance as they’re developing their own independence and decision-making.   But use the phone as a tool… and remember while doing so to be where you are.