I love living in the digital age, but I really don’t like the reminder of just how fully I’m living in it when I see my weekly screen time report. I almost always try to justify the numbers displayed, but the reality is that I’ve usually just spent too much time on my phone. I’ve discovered three signs that show me I might need to put my phone down.
Before I go into these three signs, I want to acknowledge that there are great reasons to use phones and technology in general. I’m not anti-phone—and I’m not saying we shouldn’t use social media. But I do think there are healthy boundaries we can place around our technology. We get to have control over our tech devices. They shouldn’t have control over us.
A Few Benefits of Phone Use
- Increase spiritual engagement with tools like YouVersion.
- Connect with others through social media or online LifeGroups.
- Hear encouraging stories of life change through podcasts like You’ve Heard It Said.
- Watch hope-filled sermons and messages on YouTube and other streaming services.
- Engage with pastors and a Jesus-centered community on social media like TikTok or Instagram.
These benefits not only help our spiritual health, but ultimately influence every other area of our lives. Still, there are times when it’s better to put the phone down. You know yourself best, so it might be limiting your screen time, taking a digital detox and only using it for a few specific purposes, or even choosing to shut it off completely for an evening.
Regardless of how you choose to disconnect, here are three tell-tale signs that it’s time to put your phone down.
3 Signs That You Might Need to Put Your Phone Down
1. You experience Phantom Vibration Syndrome.
Have you ever lunged for your phone thinking that you got a text, just to realize that you have zero notifications? You were certain that your phone had gone off, and just as quickly, you realized it was a mistake. There’s an actual term for this called “Phantom Vibration Syndrome,” where you have the perception that your phone has gone off when in reality, it hasn’t.
When I start to notice this pattern in myself, I know it’s time to consider taking an extra break from my phone. Sometimes I delete social media, other times I turn it all the way off to help my brain disconnect. When I make this decision, I notice that the jolts toward the phone begin to slow down, and I’m less anxious about missing out on communication because I’ve made the conscious choice to limit my screen time.
2. It’s impacting your ability to be present with others—or yourself.
I get it. Slowing down and being present with the people around you feels countercultural. We’re used to constant connection to countless people all the time. So spending time with just one person without distraction can feel difficult and unnatural. It’s not that we don’t want to spend time with the people around us, but we’re worried we might miss out on something important.
So ask yourself, how often do you give someone your undivided attention? Time with no phone in your hand, no screens on in the room, and no other distractions? We need moments like that to feel truly connected to others.
Here’s my challenge for you: Think about how your life would look different in five years if you chose to be present now with the people around you, instead of being on your phone. I don’t have a crystal ball and I can’t see into the future, but I’d make a strong guess that your relationships would be stronger than ever, your mental health could improve, and your perception of your worth and value would be more aligned with who God says you are. This is because you’d make meaningful connections with the people around you. Plus, you’d be even more comfortable with sitting in silence as you spend time with your heavenly Father each day.
Your daily rhythms could shift as a result of this one decision, and in turn, your whole life might look different.
3. You’re in a constant state of comparison traps.
Pastor Craig Groeschel talks about the two extremes of comparison: insecurity and pride. Neither one glorifies God. Instead, they put you in a constant state of “me versus them.” You’re most likely to fall into this trap when scrolling through social media, but it could also come up in other ways while using your phone.
So if you’re constantly finding yourself in a comparison trap with what you’re seeing online, it might be time to put your phone down. Remember, people often post their “highlight reel” on social media, but the highlight reel is rarely the full picture. Even the most open and authentic influencers still have a life offline that we’ll never see.
Technology offers plenty of benefits, but sometimes we just need to put our phones down and take a break. This simple practice reminds us that life is much bigger than the small screens in our hands, and it slows us down to see all the ways God is at work in our lives.
Let’s Use Our Time Well
Smartphones, tablets, and laptops aren’t our enemies. They’re simply tools, and we get to choose how to use them. If you feel like your devices are taking control of your life, make a plan to find freedom. Talk with someone you trust, ask for accountability, and discover apps and other tools to monitor your screen time.
Don’t lose hours of your life on pointless scrolling. Prioritize your well-being and limit your technology use. Over time it can reduce stress and help you focus on what matters most—being present in the moment so you can make the most of the time you’ve been given by God.
You can start today. Set a five-minute timer on your phone, walk away, and come back to it later. Then, check out more resources to help you gain control over the technology in your life.