Your smartphone is supposed to help you connect to your friends and loved ones. While that’s certainly possible, for many of us, our phones can be more of a distraction than a help.

Your phone may be hurting your relationships if you find yourself texting when you should be talking, watching when you should be participating, and scrolling when you should be working. From the very young to the old, we are being negatively affected by the overuse of phones.

Sitting in a restaurant with my family, I noticed a husband and wife probably in their late 70s eating dinner together.

The gray haired man was occupied with his phone the entire time, while his sweetheart of many years stared into space.

This is not how a couple’s night out is supposed to look at any age. Technology is quickly advancing, but what about our personal relationships?

Here are 10 ways your phone may be hurting your relationships. Take a look and see if any of these issues ring true in your life.

1. Texting too much, talking too little.

Do you find it’s easy to text but not as easy to talk?  It’s great to text a list or meeting place, but it’s not so great for meaningful conversation. You can text “Love you” to a family member and that’s positive.  But to stay close to family or friends, there has to be more. Strong relationships are not built on texting.  When it comes to time together in person, put the phones away and talk and laugh with each other instead.

2. I’m too busy to listen.

I’ve heard many people say how hurt they were when their friend or family member took an incoming call or text in the middle of a conversation. Make sure you’re not too busy with your technology to give those present your undivided attention. This means putting away phones during mealtimes and maybe leaving your phone in airplane mode more often.

3. Too many video games.

Although women can certainly overdo video games, men tend to be more at risk for video game addiction. Understand it’s not a fair fight. Video games have been designed to be highly addictive, combining an immersive visual experience with a mission and social network of gamers. Is your work or personal life suffering because of too much time playing video games?

4. I can’t stop checking social media.

In this age of selfies and likes, women can spend endless hours scrolling through photos of friends, acquaintances, celebrities, or news. Spare moments can easily be filled with a quick peek at Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or the like.  Once there, it’s easy to lose track of time. Social media can become a convenient escape when we want to avoid the responsibilities of the daily grind.

5. Work, work, and more work.

We used to leave our work at the office because we had to, but this isn’t the case anymore. Now with technology, our work comes home with us. We can answer emails in a myriad of ways – our desktop computer, iPad, phone, or laptop. We’re almost expected to respond even when business hours have long ended. Working without boundaries leads to stress and anxiety. As Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 1:8, “All things are wearisome, more than one can say.  The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing.”

6. Is that your phone in bed?

The end of the day is a welcome time for rest and relaxation, but many of us are using phones until the last possible second. Our brains need to rest from looking at screens before bedtime. Seventy-one percent of Americans sleep with or next to their smart phones. If you aren’t an emergency worker or caregiver who needs a phone nearby, charge your phone in another room to get a better night’s sleep. You don’t need a digital pacifier for a good night’s rest. 

7. Viewing inappropriate content.

Think of the video clips, images, and games viewed on your phone. Are they character building, pure, good, and lovely? Pornography used to be much harder to access, but now it’s easier than ever to find porn online or stumble on it accidentally. Proverbs 4:23 instructs us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”  We must guard our hearts from content that runs against God’s Word, whether it’s porn, violent video games, or inappropriate sitcoms.

8. No time for contemplation.

As we move from one task to the next, we often check our phone. Our free time becomes phone time. Silence is squeezed out by constant noise throughout the day. Without time for prayer, stillness, reflection, or journaling, it is difficult to examine one’s life. We can lose the sense of perspective and purpose that is strengthened through prayer and meditating on God’s Word. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

9. Forgetting our manners.

Common courtesy isn’t as common as it used to be. It used to be second nature to greet someone with a handshake and eye contact. Public conversation was free of profanity. Most courtesies begin with putting others ahead of ourselves. We need a comeback of courtesy which places people first and devices second.

10. We don’t look into each other’s eyes.

A kind gaze goes a long way in this society filled with people who are looking down much of the time. We are losing eye contact, rarely smiling at strangers while we do our errands. At home, it’s not much better. We can continue to shift our eyes from screen to screen, not really making much eye contact with our loved ones and friends.

Which of these dangers hit close to home for you? This is a great moment for a technology check. Your life will improve almost immediately as you set healthy limits for your phone. You have a choice in the matter. Your phone can’t force you to use it. It can’t power on without your permission. Today you can decide to take control of your phone, dedicating it to God for His glory, and to help – not harm – your closest relationships.

RELATED: 5 Ways to Know If You Suck at Relationships in Your 20s

How to Enter the FREE Book Giveaway:

1) COMMENT (share your story!) how the use of your phone has affected you positively or negatively.

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The giveaway will end on Friday, March 2 Midnight (PST). I’ll announce the lucky winner on March 3rd morning on the QARA blog!