OKLAHOMA CITY (BP) -- "Hey Dad, can I use your iPhone," my son asked while we were in the car recently.
"Sure, but why do you need it?" I replied.
"I need to ask Siri something," he said.
"What do you need to know?" I said.
"How soon will we get there [to our destination]?" he said.
With a laugh and smile, I then said, "Son, we'll be there in 15 minutes. And you know, you can ask Dad things too, not just Siri."
In case you are not familiar, Siri is "a computer program that works as an intelligent personal assistant and knowledge locator," as Wikipedia describes it. It is native to all Apple devices, though other devices have similar software.
From questions like "Hey Siri, where can I get a good steak?" to "Hey Siri, who was U.S. President in 1917?" users have immediate access to information.
This is, of course, a tremendous blessing in many ways, because it saves time and disseminates knowledge. It can quickly become a curse in other ways, including the following:
-- We become too technology-dependent.
Many of us sleep with our cellphones within arm's length, get online before getting out of bed and spend hours each day staring at screens. If you are spending more time staring at a screen than you are sleeping, you might be too technology dependent.
-- We lose our resourcefulness.
Whereas people once had to navigate using printed maps or stopping and asking directions, now we can navigate using digital GPS. If the GPS takes us to the wrong place, or if we rely on it exclusively, we can lose our ability to be resourceful. Similarly, when it comes time to remembering trivia, or needing to look up information, technology allows our brains to get out of practice. When we don't use it, we lose it.
-- We become distracted.
Many of us check our phones quite frequently, which turns our focus from what's going on immediately around us to the digital world. We can quickly be sucked into temptations and turmoil going on online, without being present. As a source of endless entertainment, it can cause us to be endlessly distracted.
For these reasons and more, we need to become more aware of our technology tendencies. Sometimes it's easier to see the problems in others than we do ourselves. Perhaps you might do one of the following:
1. Ask someone close to you to keep you accountable. Ask them to call you on it if you become excessively distracted by your smartphone or other device.
2. Set aside time away from your phones. This could be meal times or for a quiet time. These breaks will give your brain a break and allow you to connect with God and others.
3. Put good things on your smartphone. Whether it's a Bible App or a state paper like ours in Oklahoma, the Baptist Messenger Go App, if you're going to be glued to your device some of the time, make sure you have edifying content available.
4. Skip Siri. The next time you forget information, don't immediately Google it. Stop and try to use your brain or ask someone around you.
These are just a few ideas that might help lead to a more balanced life. If we don't get our technology habits in check, at the end of our days, we just might be teary about how much time we gave to Siri.