5 dangers of using technology in the Christian life

Obviously I'm a big fan-boy of technology, but it's got its dangers. We need to be aware of these to ensure we don't become a victim, and instead use technology for the glory of God. Here are five dangers - what would you add to this list?

Last weekend I presented a seminar at my church’s weekend away on the topic ‘Using technology in your Christian life’. I am tidying up these notes to be included in an upcoming post. In the meantime, I’d like to explore the dangers of technology. Obviously I’m a big fan-boy of technology, but it’s got its dangers. We need to be aware of these to ensure we don’t become a victim, and instead use technology for the glory of God. Here are five dangers that were raised in the seminar or that I’ve thought of. What would you add to this list?

  1. Alienation. Someone shared that they had been excluded from social events because they didn’t have a Facebook account. That’s not very nice. If lack of access to technology excludes people from community, this should raise warning bells. At the very least, there should be more than one way for people to access information – limiting communication about an event to one channel (e.g. Facebook) is exclusive as it assumes that people a) have access to technology (e.g. Facebook), and b) want to use it. We should assume neither.
  2. Addiction. This example of a South Korean couple starving their child to death while caring for a virtual child is at the extreme end of the spectrum. But the need to be plugged-in, to know what’s happening, to read updates, to share updates is a modern and unhelpful phenomenon that has the Center for Internet Addiction. If only we felt the same eagerness to read God’s word and pursue our relationship with Him. On a more light-hearted note, wondering if you’re addicted to Twitter? Try this fun quiz. Apparently I’m 45% addicted to Twitter. It’s a fine line between engagement and addiction. Other posts I’d recommend include: ‘Addicted to tweets‘, ‘Excessive internet use linked to depression‘, and ‘Enabled or enslaved by technology?‘.
  3. Laziness. Some things are best communicated face-to-face, or at least over the phone. Technology allows us to be lazy and laziness is never good. For example, sending your Bible study leader a text message to let them know that you won’t be coming tonight. That’s lazy – if you are not going to be there, it’s courteous to pick up the phone and apologise and explain. It’s easier to send a text, but for the benefit of your leader who has spent hours preparing and who is responsible for caring for you, it’s not a good option.
  4. Potential to sin. I’m not sure if our opportunities to sin have increased with technology, or if we’re simply more aware of them. But take for example Facebook – it can prompt jealousy and envy (I wish I had what she has), pride (posting status updates to promote ourselves), lust (looking at unhelpful photos of people), gossip (sharing news on Facebook, or that we heard on Facebook) about others. The list goes on. Sure, Facebook didn’t invent jealousy, envy, pride, lust and gossip – but it sure makes these sins easy to fall into!
  5. Wasting time. Nielsen recently revealed the extent of time spent on Facebook, and how this is increasing. On this site I shared how Australians spend 29% of all time online, on Facebook. I know I seem to be picking on Facebook – I’m not, it just provides lots of good examples! Technology can make us more efficient and productive, but it can also just help us to waste time. And we waste a lot. When the Master returns, I want to be busy doing his business, not procrastinating on Facebook.

What would you add to this list?

(Feature image attribution – it’s a light-hearted image for a more serious topic! http://www.flickr.com/photos/paloetic/ / CC BY-NC 2.0)

Comments

  • http://kirribillikim.blogspot.com KIM

    Ahhh!! I had no idea calling instead of texting about Bible study was so important to you; I’m now desperately trying to remember if I’ve ever done it! Will do my best to remember in the future, though!!

  • http://churchtechtoday.com Lauren Hunter

    Thanks for the very insightful post! I completely agree with your points about using technology in positive ways, and avoiding the negative. I would add that it’s tough sometimes to decide what things are “time wasters” and what things are beneficial to the Kingdom. One can spend all day promoting church events and spreading the word about church events and optimizing the church website, etc. At what point do we say, “enough” and move on to other things?

    Technology for both personal and professional use has many advantages, yet like everything, there are some big disadvantages as well. In my personal life, I often wish more friends and family would connect in person or by phone instead of only on Facebook. I think we get walled in by some of these technologically advanced communication methods and forget to just pick up the phone and tell someone you’re thinking about them.

    Thanks for the reminders and keep the great tips coming!

  • Steven Kryger

    It’s all good Kim :) The frustration that I expressed with this form of communication is especially when SMS becomes the only form of notification, or the regular way of ducking out of Bible study. Getting a message that says “I’m too tired to come tonight” is discouraging to a leader (or at least it is to me!). Getting a message “I’m running late but will be there” is fine :) To be honest, I’ve sent these kinds of messages in the past too, but I’m just becoming more aware of how they can be perceived and the potential for discouragement.

  • http://www.sharefaithblog.com Daniel

    Great article, and very insightful! It’s important to be aware of the dangers of technology, so we can proactively combat them. Similar article here: http://www.sharefaithblog.com/2010/04/grow-church-embracing-technology/

  • http://godwinsblog.cdtech.in Godwin

    Hi,
    I found your blog through googleing for “using technology for the Glory of God”…
    The 5th point you’ve mentioned is the most valid point.

  • David Pinn

    I’d include security vulnerability as a good reason to avoid some forms of technology; particularly certain social networking applications.

  • betterthanu

    Computer invented by an Atheist, the internet by a gay atheist, and Facebook, that’s right, an atheist. Every time u log on u have done more to help atheism than you could in year for your outdated religion.

  • Rebecca

    Very very true. I’d include that you loose human connection through the internet. The more you communicate through social networks, the more uncomfortable you are talking to others face to face.

  • ibnt

    A great piece and you make some vital points. You might also enjoy “Through Glass, Darkly” by Andy Bannister at http://stayintheconversation.org/rzimcanada/articles/through-glass-darkly/ — which also made me think long and hard about the way we’re using digital technology and its implications for personhood.