According to a theologian and ethicist, cell phone addiction is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. He says it's disconnecting the younger generation from developing personal relationships.
Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary in North Carolina, says interpersonal relationships are being sacrificed as Americans of all ages – but especially the younger generation – rely more and more on their smartphones.
"When God said it was not good for man to be alone, he wasn't just talking about a helpmate for marriage," Land says. "He created us as social creatures for fellowship with him and with each other – and there's a lot of research that shows that human beings don't do well in isolation."
Land tells OneNewsNow individuals may think they are reaching out to others more than ever before with their phones, but in reality, those devices actually disconnect people from others.
"There are people in the Silicon Valley who send their children to schools that ban cell phones and only use pen and paper," he points out. "My question is: What do they know that we don't?"
He says parents need to think seriously about not letting kids have cell phones – or at the very least, place limitations on their use.
"If we're going to let them have them, we need to severely restrict their usage in terms of how much time they can spend on their cell phones – or that they can turn their cell phones off and they can do other things like read, write, converse with one another," he suggests.
Land adds that society must also play a role in helping to eliminate cell phone addiction.
We are 'virtually' gathered
There's another technological "breakthrough" that concerns Dr. Land, particularly when it comes to living out one's faith. It's called "VR Church."
In a recent article in Wired magazine, a pastor in California discussed how he started a virtual reality church. And while that pastor, according to the article, believes Christianity can be renewed through "worship in virtual space," it raises questions for theologians and ethicists.
Land says a virtual reality church concerns him because Hebrews 10:25 exhorts Christians to not give up meeting together.
"God gives each of us at least one spiritual gift, and he gives us that gift to minister it to our brothers and sisters in Christ and for them to minister their gifts to us," he explains. "And it is only together in fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ in a local church that we can scale the heights and plumb the depths and embrace the width of all that God has for us Christians.
"I don't think that that extends to 'do not forsake getting together electronically on line to hear a sermon.' I'm sorry – that doesn't cut it."
It's just another sign, says Land, that people are isolating themselves electronically "in a virtual world with virtual relationships which are just that: virtual, not real."
2-19-2018 - Section on virtual reality church added.