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Help! I’m Addicted to My Phone: Jay Y. Kim

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
February 28, 2024 5:15 am

Help! I’m Addicted to My Phone: Jay Y. Kim

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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February 28, 2024 5:15 am

"I use my phone a lot. Doesn't everyone?" Truth: Our phones are designed to keep us scrolling and swiping at all costs. Jay Kim reveals eye-opening ways our phones can create a prison for our souls and impact the life and future of the worldwide church.

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I think there's actually an increasing awareness of what digital technology is doing to us.

I just read the other day, somebody posted something about where the trends are heading, that in 10 to 15 years, having a primarily non-digital life will be sort of a status symbol, that you're living a much more full, rich life. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Anne Wilson. You can find us at

This is Family Life Today. All right, so did you see the 20-something girl sitting beside me on the flight the other night? The one that was on the computer? Yeah. I did notice that. Did you notice that? I did. Yeah, so you're sitting across the aisle, and she comes out.

I don't know if you noticed this. She sat down, said, hi, how you doing? And that was the end of the conversation, because she opened her phone, and she never one time stopped scrolling.

I mean, I shouldn't have been that nosy. She had her computer on the left. She had that, too, but she had her phone going and her computer going.

I didn't know that. I just thought, she's never turned it off. And I know she paid for the Wi-Fi, and I never paid for the Wi-Fi, because I'm not going to spend that money. She had stuff to do. I thought, what a world we live in. I thought if I wanted to have a conversation, she would have been annoyed that I was interrupting her digital world. She might have been creating the best manuscript of her life, and you're judging her?

I'm not judging her. I'm just making an observation. We live in a digital time. We do. And we're going to talk about that today with Jay Kim.

He is in the world of the digital world in California. Welcome to Family Life Today. Yeah, thanks so much for having me. I mean, when you hear that story, is that unusual at all? Not at all. I mean, not at all, right? I don't think it's unusual for anybody listening.

I don't either. It's not unusual for us either, because when we're on the plane, we're doing the same thing. Yeah, exactly. But, I mean, Jay, do you pay for the Wi-Fi? I'm not paying for it. No, I don't pay for the Wi-Fi. I'll get the free texting.

Yeah, that's right. Always the free texting. Don't pay for the Wi-Fi. I will download some books on my Kindle. Me too.

Maybe a couple of TV shows or something, because you could always have the download feature. But no, I'm not paying that eight bucks or whatever it is. I know. Because he's in ministry too.

That's right. Yeah, we're going to talk about this whole thing. You've thought a lot about it. Even wrote a book called Analog Christian, Cultivating Contentment, Resilience, and Wisdom in the Digital Age. Tell our listeners what you do. I know you pastor out in Northern California.

Yeah, yeah. San Francisco Bay Area. I'm in a city called San Jose, right on the border of San Jose and Cupertino. People know Cupertino because that's where Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak and that little garage started Apple. Apple's main campus, the big giant spaceship, is like a seven-minute drive from our campus.

Really? We're kind of right in the heart of Silicon Valley, tech epicenter of the world. It affects a lot of our folks in ways that are unique.

A lot of our people, they're making the stuff that is so pervasive in our lives. So, it's given me a really unique perspective on technology. So, yeah. I've been there basically my whole life. Been a pastor there for over 20 years and here we are. The home of Trent Dilfer. Yes.

Is it? Well, I mean, played God's ball there, right? Well, I think he has a home there.

He doesn't go to our church, but I'm pretty sure he's pretty engaged in a church nearby. I mean, our listeners are like, who is Trent Dilfer? Oh, come on. He's a legendary quarterback.

Super Bowl winning. Yeah. And a good friend.

A good friend and a solid believer. Yes. So, let's talk about this analog idea because, I mean, of all people, you live right in the center of digital world. What were you thinking when you say, okay, I got to compare the digital age with analog Christian?

Yeah. Honestly, it didn't start out with the thought of writing a book. It started out with a growing awareness of my own addiction to digital technology. I've got two young kids. They're eight and five now. But when my son, the five-year-old, when he was born, my daughter's three and he's probably two, three weeks old and I'm watching them at home. They're laying on the floor and my daughter leans over to give him a kiss on the cheek, her newborn baby brother.

And I do what every parent does. I pull out my phone. I'm like, this is it. This is my Instagram winner of the year. I'm already imagining how many likes, how many shares, you know, all of that stuff. So I take this photo and then I just find myself, my own, my actual human children are laying right in front of me and I'm just immersed in my screen trying to edit the photo, the right filter. You got to crop it right.

I'm trying to figure out what's the caption to get as maximized likes, you know? And while I'm doing this, I feel a tug on my pant leg and it's my three-year-old. So I, I look past the digital image of my daughter to my actual human daughter and she says to me, no more email, daddy, no more email. Three-year-old.

Three-year-old. And what it told me was in three years of life, this little girl has already experienced me, her dad physically present, but absent in every other way, typically checking my email that she just thought it's happening again. And that's when I knew I've got a problem. Like at the end of my life, I don't want to look back and say, you know, I was really good about getting back to people on email promptly. You know, I had so many likes on Instagram.

I want to look back and have my kids say, my dad was around and he loved me and he cared and we played and he was present, you know? So that's what really started the journey for me. I just, I knew there was something happening in me that I didn't want to continue. Um, so I started reading a lot, not, not Christian writers, just secular writers who were writing extensively about what digital technologies were doing to us, how, not just what they were doing for us, but how they were forming us. Um, and then as a follower of Jesus, I realized the whole journey of following Jesus is about God by his spirit forming us into a certain type of person. I realized digital technology is forming me. I'm a disciple of digital, not a disciple of Jesus.

So that led to a long journey, which, you know, turned into this book and much of my work. Guys, I wonder what percentage of listeners would say they're relating to that, but they haven't gone to the next step of allowing Jesus to kind of transform that area of their lives. I mean, all of us are guilty of it, aren't we?

All of us. Yep. How many times, go ahead, tell them, have you said to me, would you just put your phone? I mean, I had, I had, I feel like you're way better. I had a problem. Or do I still have a problem?

No, I think you're way better because it felt like we couldn't even have a conversation. When somebody's on their phone or their tablet, you feel like they're having a discussion with someone else. Yeah. And so you don't interrupt usually because they're having a discussion with someone else.

And so it shuts down life, but especially for kids. Yes. And we just aren't present.

Just as you said, Jay, like we're not present and they're right in front of us. Right. I mean, what did that journey look like? You said you went on a journey.

I mean, it probably wasn't that day, but did you start to cut back? Yeah. Yeah. I just started instilling particular practices and boundaries around digital.

Like you said, it didn't happen overnight. And I borrowed from a lot of great thinkers who've talked about instilling, this is an ancient phrase, but instilling a sort of digital rule of life. There's a writer, Andy Crouch, he's written extensively about this.

Dear friend, he's been such a huge help to me. He talks about parenting your phone. In other words, treating your phone as you would treat a three-year-old. So in my home, even still, even though my kids are eight and five, you know, the parents like Jenny and I, my wife and I, we don't go to bed before our kids. We typically wake up before our kids, but we don't go to bed before our kids. And so same deal with our phone. I'm not going to bed with my phone.

I'm putting my phone to bed before I go to bed and I'm waking up before my phone wakes up. So it's basic things. You know, our phone doesn't sit on our nightstand in our bedroom. It's docked in the kitchen, you know, in a little station. So it's simple things like that. There's several others. But for us, if I'm not intentional about how I leverage my phone and use my phone, then what I know is the phone will just use me because I've experienced it.

And I think a lot of listeners can relate. We don't think about it that way, but that's what happens. So you actually don't sleep with your phone in the same room? No. I like you say you put your phone to bed, you dock it in the kitchen. You won't even have it by your bedside because most of us, we do this. We go to bed.

We're in bed with our phones in our hands. Yes. Most people. Not us. We never do that. We totally do it. Other people, I'm sure. No, we do. I know.

It's terrible. So I mean, the mom right now is going, well, what if there's an emergency? What if somebody is trying to get a hold of me?

I have adult kids and my phone's in the kitchen and I don't hear it. Yeah. I would say, just let's remind ourselves that for the entirety of human history, until 15 years ago, we did not have phones on our bedside. So it is possible to live life, right? That much is certain. It's possible. It is possible to live life without a smartphone and access to the worldwide web of the internet in your final moments before slumber. That is possible. So I get it. What if there's an emergency?

And I don't know. Maybe what that looks like is getting a landline and someone can call you if you're really that concerned. For us, I would say the emergencies that would matter. The reason we're able to do this is because the emergencies that matter most, we would know because it's in our home. Yeah, they're right there. It's our children. It's my wife right next to me. Yeah. And I think the push in the pool is interesting.

I mean, we can say that. What if something happens? Here's my phone. But the reality is you have your phone with you attached to you in that way.

Something is happening that entire time in that you are detaching from the people you probably care about the most, who are right next to you. Yeah, I noticed you're not wearing a digital watch. No, I don't. Yeah, I don't have the Apple Watch thing. And I don't even see your phone. Yeah, that's right. Well, we talked about this.

How are you functioning right now? I don't think it's possible. You don't have any connection. Because I was thinking if the phone's in the kitchen, at least my watch is on my wrist. Right. And if some emergency happens, I feel a thing.

But maybe that's not a good thing. Get rid of it. Analog clocks are still a thing. You can go and get one, you know, or a digital one. Set an alarm. That's still possible. A lot of people will say to me, well, how will I wake up? I'm just like, there's a thing called clocks.

They're still available. It's really funny. I just, I don't know. We're so attached. We're so addicted.

It's very difficult to imagine a life without it. So you're a pastor of a church. You're talking to Gen Z. You're talking to all different age groups of people.

When you say this or you preach about this, which I'm assuming you have at church, what's the response? Especially from kids, Gen Z has, they've been growing up with this. They've had this. Right. Yeah. They're very open. Are they?

Very open. I think there's actually an increasing awareness of what digital technology is doing to us. I'm actually quite hopeful that when my children are teenagers and in their college years and in their twenties and young adulthood, I am really hopeful that the paradigm shifts significantly. I just read the other day, this quick little, somebody posted something about, they think that where the trends are heading, that in 10 to 15 years, having a primarily non-digital life will be sort of a status symbol, that you're living a much more full, rich life.

Now, I don't know if they're right, but I really, really hope they're right. Digital's never going away. In fact, I just need to be clear, I'm not anti-digital.

Right. I have a smartphone. I use my laptop. I use Zoom and all of those things.

I have an Instagram, all of those things. It's not about the technology. It's about what we allow or do not allow the technology to do to us.

We have control over that if we decide to take control. Yeah, I mean, we're old enough to remember when the cell phone first came out, I mean, the big box. Yeah. Remember?

I was actually in seminary in the early eighties and I remember thinking- It was a bag under your car. I should invest. I should invest.

And I didn't. But I remember thinking, this will be such a gift because on my drive home from work, the rest of the work, I didn't get done. And then when I walk in the door, I'll be free. That was such a naive thought because I thought that's how we'll live.

It'll just help us be more present when we're home, not understanding it's going to be in our pocket or in our hand, probably, unless we're very disciplined. And it will, what you said earlier, I won't be present. Yeah.

I'll be there as a husband, as a dad, but I won't be there. Right. Whether it's email or not. I mean, have you ever done this? My phone will be sitting on my thigh as I'm watching TV or sitting with Ann and it won't even be just email or text. It'll be a sermon thought and I'll pull it out and make sure I get it in my sermon notes for the weekend. And again, she's looking at me like, where'd you just go? It's like I went to my office, which I would have done in the old days. Shut the door.

This is my time to do this. And I come out, I'm present, but now I'm never really ever separated from that world. Is that your reality as well? Yeah.

A hundred percent. Even still to this day, there's always the temptation to detach myself from what is actually happening in the present moment because my brain has been hardwired to move at the pace of the internet. And that's another thing that's happening to us. So we're growing really impatient. We're very scattered, you know, because, because we have access to so much, we're constantly sort of moving mentally, emotionally to someplace else. You know, you think about sitting at a red light, you know, I'm always tempted sitting at a red light and it's a long red light. What do we do?

It's like, just go, go ahead. Ask him. That's an option. I just go. That's an option. That's an option for most people.

There's the temptation. And in some states it's, it's illegal to even get a ticket in Michigan to pull out your phone at a stop sign ever in your car. Yeah. You can't type in California, you can't physically touch your phone while you are in your car. But I see people doing it every day at stoplights all the time. Right.

Right. And it's because there's something in us that cannot, cannot be still in place anymore. There was a time, you know, everyone listening to this, hopefully they can remember. There was a time where at a red, at a red light, we would enter a brief little season of time, a moment of time that was called boredom and you're talking about sermons. You know, what's really interesting for me when I really think about it, yes, sometimes there's these beautiful sort of, I see something or I hear something like, oh my gosh, I've got to remember that and I capture it. But my best thoughts usually come when I'm, when it's quiet and boring and my mind and my heart have enough space to just be still and that, that creates the room for God to start filling us with whatever, you know, and yeah, I think we have to learn to embrace boredom again because I do think boredom is the path to creativity and beauty and we just, we so rarely get there cause we're constantly distracted. I'm thinking about the lines that we are all in.

Like if you're in a return line at a store, if you're in a, you're a Disney or universal and you're in line, all of us are bored and so we're on our own all the time. But I was thinking the other day I walked in a lot of times when I walk, I'll listen to the word, I'll listen to a podcast and I've gotten in this habit lately. It used to be my best prayer time because there's just silence. You don't have anything with you, you're just walking. And so I've realized like, man, that intimate time with Jesus, I can get locked up and totally encamped in this great podcast and I've never talked to the Lord in 45 minutes or whatever. And I've realized lately I've been just thinking, okay, I'm going to take 30 minutes and all I'm going to do is walk. I'm going to pray, I'm going to listen and you're right, Jay, like there's no creativity when all we're doing is inputting constantly.

So that's been really beneficial to me, but I love that you're kind of, you're convincing us because you've studied it a lot and you've seen what's happened and how it's forming us. Well, talk about this. Is it a escape? Because when you say that, there's part of me is like, we're uncomfortable with silence. We're uncomfortable with thinking deeply. We're uncomfortable in relationships. We escape it. If Ann wants to talk, it's easy for me to go, I don't want to go there.

I think in a marriage, it can be a distraction that we use to not engage. As I sat beside that young lady on the plane, I thought she doesn't want to talk. And if I turn and said, hey, so where are you going? Which I rarely do. It would have been an intrusion into her digital world that she didn't want.

It was her way of saying, I'm closing off you and everybody else. I think we do the same thing in our marriage. Is that something you found? Yeah. It's an escape.

Yeah, absolutely. I think we create little bubbles around ourselves. So go to any coffee shop these days. Again, pre-smartphone, there was a time when in a coffee shop, typically you'd be, even if you're there for long extended periods of time, typically you are working or having a conversation with a friend with the background ambient sounds of humans talking in a coffee shop. Now you have a bunch of disconnected individuals with these little white pods in their ears and socially you see the white air pods. What does it tell you? Exactly your point, Dave.

You don't see the physical bubble, but these little white knobs, they are a bubble. Do not intrude, do not step in, this is sort of my space. So of course it makes all the sense in the world that all of the data is showing us that since about 2012 rates of loneliness and isolation have spiked amongst teenagers because it was in 2012 that we started putting smartphones in the hands of teenagers. So researchers, not Christian, just high level social scientists like Jonathan Haidt and Gene Twenge, they've done this work for several decades now and it's pretty clear the smartphone has disconnected us and where this writer Sherry Turkle has a book and the title of it is Alone Together, which I think is so true. You think about going to, I was at dinner on Friday night on my own after I landed and I'm alone, like actually physically alone, but I wasn't wearing air pods or anything. I didn't have my phone out. I was just eating some fajitas with the ambient sound of the restaurant and it was a full busy restaurant, but what was so alarming to me and sadly not surprising is so many of the people in this restaurant were sitting face to face, but they were alone together just immersed on their screens and I just thought, man, here you are, you're sharing a meal, breaking bread, you could be having all sorts of rich, honest, genuine conversation face to face and you're just completely alone together and I think that's something we have to be mindful of.

That's not the sort of life any of us really want to live, but it seems to be the lives we are living. So you've got an eight year old, when are you going to let them have a cell phone? Jenny and I, my wife and I talk about this a lot. We think middle school, but we're pretty convinced that it will not be a smartphone. A friend of ours actually recommended the Apple Watch for teenagers, that it's actually a great tool because you can't do social media on the watch, but you've got access to everything else you really need. Mom and dad can text you, you can call us. So that's kind of where we're leaning right now, either that or just an old flip phone and she can download that game Snake, you know, that I used to play all the time on my old Nokia.

Even back then I was distracted just playing Snake, you know, on that little green screen with the black, but it was a different kind of distraction. So yeah, we think we'll probably do the Apple Watch so she can text and call, but not have social media. And that's another thing we're pretty adamant about. And I'm sure it's going to turn into a big fight in our house, but there's enough data that tells us putting social, I think, just my opinion, I think 30 years from now, we'll look back and we will look at what we're doing right now, which is allowing 12 year olds to get on social media. We'll look back on that the way we would look back now as if we had put cigarettes in the hands of 12 year olds, 30 years ago.

I mean, it's literally killing a generation. So for us, yeah, we're not going to do social media. When she turns 18, she can, you know, it's her own choice, but for now that's kind of where we're at.

She can figure it out. Well, you started the program talking about how you've learned to put your phone to bed, you dock it, then you go upstairs, go to sleep, and then you wake your phone up. You purposely come down and you choosing when to have your phone on instead of having it in your hand when you go to bed and when you wake up. Tell us the difference that that has made for you because you said that you were pretty much present, but you weren't present with your family and kids. Has it changed?

What's it feel like now? Changed everything. Really? Yeah.

So Jenny and I have actual conversation before bed, you know, not, not just quippy little things. Hey, look, look what I saw on Twitter or you really weren't doing that. We were. No. We were just scrolling and occasionally we'd say, Hey, look at this funny meme on Instagram.

You know, that's not real conversation. Yeah. And she decided to do this as well.

You both did. And my wife took it a step further before I started putting the phone to bed. Before all of that, she got off of all social media about four years ago. Still off? Still off.

Really? She'll never go back. How does she function? I don't know.

I ask her that every day. How are you even alive without Twitter? How's this possible? Yeah.

She will never go back. Really? Yeah. Because?

She has no temptation. Um, several things. One, just time. The simplicity of she realized I didn't, she, she says, I did not realize how much time social media was stealing from me.

In fact, I would encourage everybody. Just take inventory. Your phone can do it for you. It'll tell you how much time you're spending on your phone, on various apps.

It's so depressing. You never look at it. You should look at it, you know, because it'll give you a clear and then do some of the math. What does that look like over the course of a week, a month, a year, 10 years, and you will be alarmed at how much of your life is stolen by this. Does yours do what mine does?

It lets me know how many hours on Sunday morning. Yeah. Is that a thing? Because I'm always at church. Yes. And it's like convicting. I'm like getting ready to preach.

It's the Holy Spirit. Dave, this week. Can't we do this tomorrow?

Why right now? Like it just reminds you this is not important and look what you did this week. Yeah. Yeah. I didn't know it was Sunday morning for everybody. Yeah. I think you can change it. But yeah, for mine it's Sunday. So it's really, she stayed off.

She stayed off. She loves it. It's not just the time either. It's she just feels way less anxious. And there's a lot of research that shows social media is designed to make you anxious because it is the thing that keeps you coming back.

You know, it's one of the sort of neurological triggers that'll keep you coming back. Okay. Like did I get more likes? Did I get more likes? What's happening in the world?

If I don't know, then you know, that's problematic. So it's been a huge game changer for me every morning because the phone is not the first thing for me. I just have a ritual.

I make a, I pour myself a pour over coffee and I read a Psalm or a section of the gospels and then I'll just drink that cup of coffee continuing to read and meditate on God's word. And you know, there's all the, all of that research that shows if you, if you do something for 21 straight days, it becomes sort of habitual. And that's been true for me. It's been habit forming.

So now I feel abnormal if I can't do that in the morning and that's where we want to get. That's so good. So yeah, it's been a game changer. Those are just a few things, but there's just, there's been a lot more that's been really helpful for me. We'll talk about that some more tomorrow. Yeah.

And I was just thinking if a married couple listening just did what you said, if we did it, forget our listeners, if we did it, that's a, that's a game changer for your marriage. And I'm guessing your daughter's not coming up to you anymore and going, get off email. That's right.

Cause you're not, it's not as prevalent as it was, right? Yeah, that's exactly right. I love it. I think that's a great application. Super helpful and relevant conversation today because last time I checked, almost all of us have a phone. I do.

And I'm pretty sure you do too. And so we need to hear conversations like the one we heard today. I'm Shelby Abbott and you've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Jay Kim on Family Life Today. Jay has written a book called Analog Church. Why we need real people, places and things in the digital age. It's really a must read for anyone who's exploring kind of the intersection of technology and church. Really helpful insights on the implications of the digital age for stuff like worship and discipleship. And so you can go online to to get a copy.

You can find the book in the show notes section at the bottom of the page, or you could just give us a call at 800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. And sometimes when you talk about this subject, when it comes to technology, a lot of people can get very anxious about it. They think, you know, I'm doing the wrong things. I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be doing.

Or maybe my life isn't where it's supposed to be right now when it comes to technology. And earlier this week, we had on a really amazing guest, Elizabeth Woodson, who talked about finding joy when the life you have is not the life that you hoped for. She wrote a book called Embrace Your Life, and it really helps you understand the contentment that you can find in the gap between where you currently are and what you desire for your life to look like. So that book that Elizabeth wrote is going to be our gift to you when you give today at You can get your copy with any donation that you decide to give to Family Life. You can head online to and click on the donate now button at the top of the page. Or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again that number is 800-F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. And you can feel free to drop us a donation in the mail if you'd like to. Our address is Family Life, 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando, Florida, 32832. So how does your smartphone act as a mirror?

Is it promoting self despair by fostering an inward focus perspective with you? Well, Jay Kim is back again tomorrow with Dave and Ann Wilson to help us understand our smartphones. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-28 06:34:14 / 2024-02-28 06:47:42 / 13

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