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“SEEDS PLANTED…” Results from our Spring Retreat - Digital Detox Needed!

This past weekend we tackled an issue that many of us face…social media addiction. 
Some of the national statistics and scientific research:
  • 210 Million Americans suffer from internet & social media addictions.
  • Research tells us that the average American can’t leave his or her cell phone alone for more than 6.5 minutes checking them up to a 150 times every day.
  • Scientists have now found that overuse of technology in general, and social media in particular, creates a stimulation pattern similar to the pattern created by other addictive behaviors.
  • The brain responds to social media the same way it responds to real-life connections, with a release of dopamine—a neurotransmitter that creates feelings of pleasure and works in the reward center of the brain.
  • The medical and mental health communities now believe that any entity that can produce a pleasurable sensation has the potential of becoming addictive. A behavioral addiction, just like a substance addiction, is a powerful drive to continue a particular behavior despite the negative consequences for the individual and those around him.
  • We get a “buzz,” so to speak, from performing the behavior.
    The loss of control over the behavior in question, let’s say habitual cell phone use, is a sure sign that you may be addicted to your cellular device—similar to any addictive drug.
  • The easiest way to understand this term is by imagining a slot machine. You pull the lever to win a prize, which is an intermittent action linked to a variable reward. Variable meaning you might win, or you might not. In the same way, you refresh your updates to see if you’ve won. You know when you open Instagram or Twitter and it takes a few moments to load updates? That's no accident. Again, the expectation is part of what makes intermittent variable rewards so addictive. This is because, without that three-second delay, Instagram wouldn't feel variable. There's no sense of will I win? because you'd know instantly. So the delay isn't the app loading. It’s the cogs spinning on the slot machine.
  • Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive, RSPH, said: “Social media has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol, and is now so entrenched in the lives of young people that it is no longer possible to ignore it when talking about young people’s mental health issues.”  “It’s interesting to see Instagram and Snapchat ranking as the worst for mental health and wellbeing – both platforms are very image-focused and it appears they may be driving feelings of inadequacy and anxiety in young people.”
  • One of the symptoms the new research is showing is physiological problem in sleep patterns. “The blue light emitted by smartphones and tablets simulates daylight, inhibiting the brain’s production of melatonin, the hormone that helps us fall asleep and stay asleep.”
  • The light from your nighttime cell phone use can interrupt your circadian rhythms and block the production of melatonin that is essential for a good night’s sleep. Only 29 percent of people turn their cell phone off at night.
  • The CDC had noted a rise in the rates of both over the years 2010-2015, and found that girls were particularly at risk: Their suicide rate rose by 65% in those five years. The number of girls with severe depression rose by 58%.
This weekend, we surveyed our students and learned the following:
92.5% say they are spending more time on their cell phone than they should
87.5% say that when they are bored that is the first thing they turn to
72.5% say that they sleep with the cell phone next to their bed
67.5% say they check their social media feeds before getting out of bed.
65% say they have gone into a panic when they couldn’t find their phone
55% say they have tried to cut back on their usage but it didn’t last long
47.5% confessed to using their phone while driving
We used the ‘6 Signs of Cell Phone Addiction' assessment by Dr. James Roberts and found the following with our students:
16 classified as ‘addicted’ 
18 have crossed the ‘tipping point’ and have compulsive behaviors
3 were in the ‘warning zone’
3 were in a healthy place, utilizing their technology rather than it controlling them.
The researching is showing that we need to ‘Wake Up’ and change our patterns. While these devices can be wonderful tools that can fulfill our purposes, we want to use them in a God glorifying way. As Paul said, ‘“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.’ 
This weekend we walked through the scriptures and reminded one another that God made us for Himself and our fulfillment is in relationship to Him. Our sessions included: Defining ‘Idols’, Watching Over Your Heart, Our 7 Core Thirsts, and Satisfaction from The Living Water. Our adult leaders and college students did an amazing job facilitating discussion groups and guiding the students in their group presentations with the theme of ‘Helping One Another’. Saturday night concluded with a special time where the college students did a Q & A time with the younger students, testifying to their experiences and sharing insight on the high school years. It was a special time that I think all will remember!
I am praying that God will ‘WATER THE SEEDS’ we planted this weekend and continue to grant us repentance from unhealthy patterns and renew our passion to be fulfilled in Christ consuming the truth in his Word.