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5 Dangers of Using Technology in the Christian Life

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.

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.

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?‘.

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.

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. Sure, Facebook didn't invent jealousy, envy, pride, lust and gossip – but it sure makes these sins easy to fall into!

And of course one of the great temptations of our day is – there's a reason why one of the most visited articles each day on this site is a list of tools for online accountability.

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.

John Piper on social media and prayer

What would you add to this list?

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. KIM

    March 14, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    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!!

  2. Lauren Hunter

    March 16, 2010 at 2:52 am

    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!

  3. Steven Kryger

    March 16, 2010 at 7:34 am

    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.

  4. Daniel

    April 10, 2010 at 12:14 am

    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/

  5. Godwin

    December 18, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    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.

  6. David Pinn

    January 11, 2011 at 11:58 am

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

  7. betterthanu

    December 6, 2012 at 2:56 am

    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.

  8. Rebecca

    June 5, 2013 at 10:38 am

    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.

  9. ibnt

    August 29, 2013 at 3:14 am

    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.

  10. Aaron Christoferson

    February 13, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Dear Steven,

    Your Article has hit the nail on the head in this aspect of most peoples lives. I say most because I don’t use Facebook anymore, and I’ll tell you why later, after I have commented on your Article a bit more.

    If someone were to ask me, “should I use Facebook,” I would say no. The reasons you have listed are all correct. It takes up time, in other words, YOU, or ME not too long ago, LET it take up time.

    You will see all kinds of stuff on facebook you probably should not be letting your eyes look upon.

    My main reason, to support my wife leaving facebook and the fact that it takes life and communication out of EVERYTHING! Posting a location or what you are doing right now is NOT communication in its original form… at all.

    Talk to people face to face, interact, look into their eyes while talking to them and build real relationships not virtual ones.

    Aaron-

  11. Sharon Odland

    March 18, 2017 at 2:39 am

    I can totally relate to your posting Steven. Recently I was meeting with friends and they were all talking about an upcoming event of which I had no idea about. They explained that I had been invited on FaceBook but I had not had time to look at Facebook (too busy studying), so I was not aware of this event. They acted as if that was the only form of communication necessary any more.

  12. Scott

    April 21, 2017 at 7:25 am

    I am interested in being able to communicate long distances, avoiding social apps, tracking, gps locating, etc., all while having close and personal real relationships with those right around us. I am wondering about HAM Radio, about the only thing that works in a true disaster. Would this combined with real personal relationships near us enable a network of others to share freely. All without internet. Thoughts?

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