Christian Media: Where Truth Meets You

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The Phone Addiction You Didn’t Know You Had

What happens when you're on your phone too much? Do phones affect your mental health? How do you break a phone addiction?


The Phone Addiction You Didn’t Know You Had




Shannon: You had 11 hours of – maybe even more – of social media time! 


McGill: I think the main culprit of my screen time on the social media is being on call with my friends.


Gretchen: I’m doing… I’m going to post this right now. Like, I need to take this picture to post it now.


Shannon: Trying to create this life online cannot encompass the entirety of who we are, especially as Christians!


Gretchen: Well, I had to put an app limit with some apps where it has to lock me out! 


Brother Michael: But it can also distract us. We use our devices also for entertainment. But then again there are real life matters that we need to attend to.


[Show intro]


Shannon Santamaria: You’re listening to Heart and Soul, a podcast from the Iglesia Ni Cristo, Church Of Christ. I’m one of your hosts, Shannon Santamaria, and it’s here where we have real conversations with friends who are helping each other reach the best Christian version of themselves. This is Heart and Soul.




Shannon: Welcome to the INC Heart and Soul. And with me today is McGill. Hey, McGill! 


McGill Onate: Hey, Shannon. How are you? 


Shannon: I’m doing good. How are you?


McGill: I’m great. I’m great.


Shannon: And another host with me today is Gretchen. Hey, Gretch!


Gretchen Asunsion: Hey! Hello, hello!


Shannon: And today we are going to talk about being glued to our screens. Well, let’s get right to it! So, I’m super excited to talk about this episode today, because it is definitely a discussion that I have with you guys, and I know that it’s a discussion that everybody has! And before we get into talking about, you know, phone screens and being addicted to our phones, I want to introduce the hosts with a little icebreaker. You know, we’re here on um INC Heart and Soul. Does our podcast count as screen time?


McGill: Well, when I think about it, initially, yeah, I think it counts as screen time. I mean, I know this is just audio for the ones listening here today, but when we’re recording, we are using a screen, so yeah, I guess it does count as screen time since we are looking into a screen. But I don’t know. What do you think, Gretchen?


Gretchen: Um, yeah! I would have to agree that it would be screen time, but I wouldn’t take it as a negative type of screen time. We’re all enjoying each other’s time, and here we are going to talk about a great topic that I’m sure everyone can relate to. 


Shannon: Right. And you know, I also wanted to introduce a minister of the gospel, Brother Michael Guerrero. Hi, Brother Michael! 


Brother Michael Guerrero: Hi, everyone. How are you guys doing?


Shannon: We’re doing good. I actually wanted to ask you as well, is this podcast part of using your screen time? 


Brother Michael: I think for us, yes, because like what was mentioned by Brother McGill earlier, we are using our screens and maybe for the people listening, maybe they’re listening also on, you know, a mobile device or something. And what’s nice though, about this is that they don’t have to technically look at the screen, right? They just have to be logged in. So, I would agree with Sister Gretchen that, yes, this is a little bit of screen time, but in a good way! And we’ll get to that in a little while.


Shannon: Right. I know that, you know, this podcast is kind of in that gray area when it comes to screen time. Later, we’re going to be talking about screen time, and we didn’t have cell phones, you know, when the Bible was made, so it’s exciting to kind of hear what the Bible has to say all about that.


I know for one thing, I start panicking when I can’t find my phone, or if I’m rushing and I forget to charge it before it dies, or I forget it somewhere and I’m trying to find it before I leave. I do freak out when I do lose my phone. If that doesn’t constitute as being overly attached to an item, then I don’t know what it is. [Do] you guys ever feel that way?


Gretchen: Yeah. It’s almost like a rush. Like, oh! I had to do something, but then, not really. It’s just making excuses to get your phone charger to ‘mindlessly’ scroll or just check on apps that you haven’t checked out throughout the day. So, I yeah… yeah. I’ve had moments like that. [Laughs] 


McGill: Yeah. I’ve definitely also had moments like that, too. I mean, also, just very recently, one time I was at the gym and I left my phone at the gym. [I] did not know where my phone was. I was tracking it down with my iPad, using [the] find my iPhone app. So I thought someone stole it. I was like, oh my goodness! And I was going to lose my mind! I’m like, oh my, where’s my phone?! 


Shannon: [Laughs] McGill! McGill, I don’t think, I don’t think that is a definition or I mean, a sign of phone addiction. I think it’s you not even worrying about where your phone is. 


McGill: [Laughs] Yeah, maybe I was a little bit irresponsible in those scenarios, but I think those are times where I really, I really told myself maybe I should be a little bit more responsible with my items. But yeah.


Shannon: Do you think that you have some signs or do you think that you’re addicted to your phone? I know for a fact McGill isn’t. Obviously, he lost his phone three times. But for you, Gretch, I want to know. 


Gretchen: I… I have to be honest, there was a point in time where I was addicted. I mean, especially during the lockdown, where it’s like, hmm! Let me just grab my phone real quick where you just, again, mindlessly. But then, since then, I caught some signs where it’s like I kept scrolling, but I wasn’t consuming anything. It was just… it became a bad habit. So I was like, okay, we have to address the problem here.


Shannon: You know, that happens to me too. I think, especially when it comes to doing laundry. I procrastinate doing laundry. And so every time my clothes are done and they’re ready to be folded or hanged, I just end up leaving the pile of clean laundry on my bed and I’m just on my phone scrolling until the ad tells me that I’ve been on my phone for too long.


McGill: I get those a couple of times.


Shannon: I think it’s my way of like trying not to do the laundry. I don’t know? Laundry has never done anything to me, so I don’t know why I’m procrastinating on it. I know that, McGill, we were talking earlier about you being addicted to your phone, but I don’t know. I don’t know about that.


McGill: Well, when I think about it, it’s like, what is addiction really? It’s like, what I think addiction is, is you need it like your body craves it and you can’t go without it. There are some, like, nights where I’m just like, like I have downtime, I’m going to chill. Maybe I’m going to scroll a little bit, but then that’s scrolling, like I’m, I should be in bed at this time, but I need to just keep scrolling so I can go to bed. That’s what I’m thinking, because I usually, you know, scroll a little bit before I go to bed. But then it just keeps going and I’m like, I need to sleep, but I kind of want to just continue watching, you know?


Shannon: I asked you guys before this episode actually what your screen time was, and I know that we were all sharing each other’s screen time. You know, the analytics that your phone gives you, how much screen time? Most of my screen time is spent on social media. And you know, McGill, when you sent me yours, I freaked out! You had 11 hours of – maybe even more – of social media time! 


McGill: Yeaaah… 


Shannon: On your phone! Like in one week?! For me, I guess I don’t realize that I spend so much time on my phone as well! 


McGill: Yeah. I think the main culprit of my screen time on the social media is, is being on call with my friends. I love being on call with my friends. Sometimes it gets to the point where I love it so much, I’ll pass out on call, and my phone just stays idle for the entire night and…


Gretchen: Sounds like a lifeline at this point… [Laughs] 


McGill: So, maybe that’s the culprit of the 11 hours, but you know.


Shannon: And I know, Gretch, you just got a new phone, so it doesn’t really show you your true analytics, I guess, when it comes to being on your screen. But I think you’re doing a pretty good job managing it.


Gretchen: I’d say so. I had to put an app limit with some apps where it has to lock me out! And then there’s times where I’m like… it’s okay, 15 minutes more, let me just put in this code and still scroll… 


McGill: Girrrl! [Laughs] 


Shannon: You know, the thing that people say, the first step to solving the problem is knowing you have one or something like that?

Gretchen: Right. 


Shannon: Don’t quote me on it! I mean, it’s… and I know that it’s important to be mindful of our habits and behaviors, but I think, I think we might have a little problem here. 


McGill: Yeah, I agree. 


Shannon: So, I guess I wanted to ask Brother Michael, when it comes to, you know, using our phones or being distracted, what should we keep in mind?


Brother Michael:  Well for us as Church Of Christ members we have an ultimate goal that we should keep our focus on, and that’s salvation. And that’s why while we make our way through this world in this life, we pay attention to what the Bible teaches us here in Romans 13:12 which states:

But make sure that you don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in taking care of all your day-by-day obligations that you lose track of the time and doze off, oblivious to God.

[Romans 13:12 The Message] 


Brother Michael: So just like what the Bible made mention, we shouldnt waste our time on unnecessary pursuits. So, there’s nothing wrong with using our cell phones, our laptops, our tablets when we are doing something that is productive. But if we’re always spending our time just kind of scrolling through social media, and looking for other things that really are just taking up our time and are not helping us… for example at school or at work or even spending time with our family members, most importantly, participating in the Church events that take place on a regular basis. 


So again yes our cell phones, our gadgets, our devices, for example it’s basically a way for us to get unlimited information almost, right? But it can also distract us. We use our devices also for entertainment. But then again there are real life matters that we need to attend to, that we can’t disregard. Especially if we are just spending a whole bunch of time on our devices, just like what the Bible said don’t get so absorbed and exhausted in these day-by-day obligations that you lose track, oblivious to God. We shouldn’t do that.


Shannon: Thank you, Brother Michael, for that. I mean, I guess it’s more so a reality check, I want to say? To be mindful about what we are spending our time with. And I, you know, you said it best. I should be more mindful about what I’m paying attention to. But, you know, when I think about it, when it comes to phone addiction, it can really affect your time management. Like, you know, what Brother Michael said. 


Gretchen: Agree. 


McGill: Yeah. 100 percent. 


Shannon: And that happens, I guess, with all aspects of our life. You know, there’s been times when I have been on my phone and that ad that comes up like, hey, you know, time to stand up, you know, spend some time away from your phone, and I totally ignore it! I’m [like] don’t tell me what to do, ad. I’m going to keep scrolling on my phone. That has affected me because then I put everything else at the back and all of my priorities aren’t being paid attention to because I’m so busy just scrolling away. How has it affected you guys?


Gretchen: I guess it’s just how much you consume, right? Again, like I keep saying it, but I’m going to keep saying it.


Shannon: Gretch is the perfect example of a good time management phone screen time. She’s not addicted, but McGill and I, we probably are.


Gretchen: I guess like, when you mindlessly scroll right you consume so much media and how fast you consume it, of course it’s like, oh? That’s oh…wow. Wow.


Shannon: [Laughs]


McGill: [Laughs]


Gretchen: See! Even… even worse? I guess? But you know, one post is like super joyful, next thing you know, it’s sad and the next thing you know it like, sometimes it triggers certain emotions for some people where it’s like, ugh, okay, do I should I keep going? Like, is another one going to be sad? Is it another thing that’s going to trigger me or distract me of what I really need to be doing? So I’d say, yeah, it does affect mental health.


Shannon: So I know. I mean, there have been times where I am crying over dog videos. 


McGill: Aww


Shannon: Or like families uniting videos, those videos, they make me cry! But you know, the happy cries are like the INC Media content? Like I’m crying, I’m like happy crying, like, aww! She found God! And I’m like happily [crying]. I feel so happy for that person! But you are right. It takes an emotional toll being on social media. And you know, our phones, our screen time, our laptops, they play a big role in our dopamine levels. 


According to USA Today, dopamine is a brain chemical that literally makes us happy and it is released every time we receive something on our phones. It could be a text from a loved one, a like on any social media platform, or a bit of breaking news we find interesting. Dopamine feels good, so we keep checking our phones. 


I think I can relate to that because when you get a notification, you’re excited to hear from someone, right? You’re excited to be like, hey, that’s my friend who wants to reach out to me! Or if you post something on social media and you get likes or comments, you know, there’s notifications that pop up, so you’re intrigued and then you stay on there longer. And thus, McGill’s 11-hour screen time because he’s on his phone talking with friends. But I am exactly the same way. I don’t know how much screen time I have, but I’m pretty sure I’m more than McGill. I mean, I have to say that.


McGill: Yeah, I don’t know. Well, we looked at our screen times. It was just on our phones, right? But I’m not sure how much time I spend on my computer. I mean, it’s not so much nowadays, you know, because, you know, I’m barely home for some days, but with our phones, it’s so accessible to us, right? We have it on us for almost 24 hours in the day. So, it’s easy to just whip it out, and then, there you go. Screen time, screen time, screen time. 


Shannon: But, you know, our phones, it’s basically a positive stimuli because we want it keeps reinforcing that positivity. It keeps reinforcing that dopamine that keeps ringing in our head. And so I guess when it comes to phone addictions, there should be something that we should ask ourselves. And when it comes to being addicted to social media or, you know, our physical phones, you know, and I think it all comes to how is it affecting us, right?


Gretchen: Yeah. 


Shannon: But I wanted to go back to Brother Michael. You know, Brother Michael, you’ve heard our discussion, this whole time about being addicted to our phones. You know, tell us a little bit about how we can get past that. And, you know, what should be our mindset when it comes to finding the right balance between our online life and our real life, or you know, fixing our time management?


Brother Michael: Well yes, we can read here in Ephesians 5:15 to 17. This is what it states:


Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

[Ephesians 5:15-17 New International Version] 


Brother Michael: So the Bible clearly teaches us to live wisely. A person who lives like this, who lives wisely, really understands the importance of time management. They won’t be wasting precious time on activities or things that really aren’t beneficial to their life. But in fact, they could even be led into committing sin if they are just focused on these things. And that’s why for—especially for the youth, the young children and even the adults of the Church, we’re always being encouraged and reminded to make the most of the time that we have. For example, for the youth to pursue their education, to focus on their education. That’s the the way that we can lay groundwork for a successful future. 


Also, if they use that, as well as using their time to be more active, more participation in Church activities, that is truly a way that we can benefit and really prepare our future by focusing also on our service to God.


Shannon: Right, Brother Michael. I know that when it comes to, I guess, people, you know, who aren’t in the Church, I sometimes think that they prioritize their online life more than they do their their life here, you know, their physical life. And that sounds weird, but you see all of these people who would prioritize the best Instagram photo or the best photo that they can take of the day or, you know, trying to encapsulate this whole beautiful moment of their life. Instead of just really appreciating the life that they have, you know, that’s not on social media. 


I want to ask guys, do you see it too? Or do you think it’s common that people around us are prioritizing their online life, their influencer life, than they do, you know, here, being real, being wholesome? Like what we’re doing right now.


McGill: I definitely don’t think prioritizing your online life is a priority that should be our priority, because especially, you know, we’re members of the Church Of Christ. I don’t believe that should be our top priority, you know, for the ones that like it is their job to have an online presence, for sure. Personally, for me, I don’t, I don’t usually go on social media too often like Instagram and then all of those ones where you post and share pictures. I don’t really go on those kinds of social media. So, personally, it’s not my priority and I don’t really want it to be a priority. I want to focus on things in my real life, my day to day life, you know, going to work, going to the gym, going to Church, that stuff is really what I, what I take in. I’m not one to sit back and take pictures because I just, I like to, you know, enjoy the moment as it is because, you know, we could only see things with our eyes and seeing with our eyes instead of just a screen with a phone or… 


Shannon: McGill! You reminded me of something. There’s this like trend on social media and it’s like romanticizing, you know, they say normalize romanticizing mundane things, you know, the ordinary. But they’re still posting it on social media. 


McGill: Oh, wow, yeah… 


Shannon: But for us, God taught us to appreciate what we have, or appreciating every moment, right? So it’s like, why do we have to romanticize something on social media that is so simple when we can just appreciate it at that moment. We don’t have to post about it. We just appreciate it! We just yeah, you know, we’re grateful! 


McGill: I want to take the most in every moment!


Shannon: Exactly! 


McGill: So, if I’m with my friends in some sort of activity, I want to just appreciate everything with my eyes instead of capturing it all with my phone, but then my eyes miss everything! 


Shannon: Well, we know, because you lost your phone like three times at that activity


McGill: Yeah! I did lose my phone, so I couldn’t take pictures! But, you know! [Laughs] 


Shannon: But we definitely know that you were you, you weren’t using your phone.


Gretchen: He was definitely in the moment of looking for his phone!


McGill: I was in that moment looking for my phone. That’s what I use my eyes for! [Laughs] 


Shannon: And, Gretch, you know, I always compliment your Instagram because it’s so, it’s so pretty and it’s so beautiful. But I know you as a person. You know, I know you beyond social media and you know, you’re genuine, you’re so much more. 


And I feel like social media in general, our phones, our screen time, being addicted to it and trying to create this life online cannot, you know, encompass the entirety of who we are, especially as Christians.


Gretchen: That’s very true! Like I, I finally viewed social media as, like, if anything were to be posted, I think it’s just highlights, right? It’s just a highlight of what your life is. It’s not a definition of what your life is. 


Shannon: Right. 


Gretchen: So, I mean, what helped me is like, yeah, there was time where you focused so much on your online life where you forgot about reality. So it’s like, okay, let me just share, you know, off of the timeline of I’m doing, I’m going to post this right now. Like, I need to take this picture to post it now. Where it’s like, it’s fun to just be like, oh, guess what? Like I was, I traveled last week. I just want to share this. Like, I think that’s.


McGill: I love telling stories. That’s what I want to do. 


Gretchen: Right? That makes you be more in the moment. 


Shannon: And that’s why you guys are here with me, because we’re telling stories. We are in the moment. And actually, you know, in the same article that I told you guys earlier, you know, in USA Today, there are three tips on how to stop phone addiction. So, the first one is creating physical distance from you and your phone. And I think McGill puts it best in like throwing your phone or just forgetting about it. 


McGill: [Laughs] 


Shannon: And the second one is turning off [unwanted] notifications. And I know that, Gretch, you do that. You know, when I’m talking to you while I’m at work, you’re like, hey, I’m busy, I’m going to talk to you later and I know that you put your phone on, do not disturb or on work mode?


Gretchen: Always. 


Shannon: So you can focus! The third one is to make certain spaces or locations, phone or screen free. And I know that I do that because at home I don’t have a TV, I don’t have screens in my room. That space is my space. That is my space to just breathe and have my own space. And so I have that little corner, that reading nook that I have where there’s no screen, it’s just me being in the present. 


And, you know, as Christians, especially right now, it’s it’s so important to be mindful about our emotions and what we’re going through so that we can have more time and we can spend more time, you know, praying to God, having that moment and really, really just focusing on how much we love who we are and how we are living. Because it’s so different from how everybody else has been living. 


I know that a big part of us often asks, you know, what’s the problem with spending just a bit more time on the phone than usual? And as I don’t think that should be the question we should ask. I mean, I want to be open in saying that there are better things to spend our time on. You know, effective time management, especially with phone usage, gives us more time for God.


Of course, Brother Michael, I know that it’s hard to find the right balance between online life and real life. I know that you have the right answer.


Brother Michael: And that’s true. People will ask—we’re not saying that there’s anything wrong with using our devices, with spending time using our cell phones, our laptops, our tablets. There’s nothing wrong with using it, but it depends on how we use it. And we’ll read another verse here in Matthew 6:31 to 33:


“So don’t worry at all about having enough food and clothing. Why be like the heathen? For they take pride in all these things and are deeply concerned about them. But your heavenly Father already knows perfectly well that you need them, and he will give them to you if you give him first place in your life and live as he wants you to.

[Matthew 6:31-33 Living Bible] 


Brother Michael: So again, when it comes to using our devices, our cell phones, our laptops, our tablets, maybe for entertainment or of course, just looking things up on the Internet, there’s nothing wrong with that. But it shouldn’t be our priority. The Bible says that God should be our priority. It says that our worship or our service to God should be our priority. Why should God be our priority? Again, the Bible made mention God will give us everything that we need if we put Him first or give Him first place in our life and live as He wants us to. 


So it’s very important that as members of the Church Of Christ, we don’t get so absorbed and we don’t just focus on the things of this life, but instead focus more so on our service before God.


Shannon: Brother Michael, I know that you said it best, leaving it to God and focusing our time in the right place when it comes to life online or virtual, you know, it’s hard to balance, but I think if we prioritize God, He’ll help us figure that out. Thank you for the verses, Brother Michael Guerrero, and for reminding us to stay on the right track.


Brother Michael: Of course. 


Shannon: And to the other hosts, McCill and Gretch, thank you for this engaging and memorable conversation.


McGill: Thank you, Shannon! 


Gretchen: Thank you! 


Shannon: I really do enjoy being here on Heart and Soul with you guys! As always, we’re here to build ourselves and each other up. 


Now, if you want to check out our sources, feel free to visit and it’ll be at the bottom of our podcast. Thank you again for listening to INC Heart and Soul this week, and it’s here where we have real conversations with friends who are helping each other reach the best Christian version of themselves. Bye, guys! Thanks for joining me! 


Gretchen: Bye! 


Brother Michael: Thank you! 


McGill: Bye you guys! Thank you so much.