Sabbath: Death by smartphone

Our smartphones are wonderful devices but we need to make sure they don’t start dictating life to us

I don’t know about you, but my life is hugely influenced by the iPhone I always have with me. Through it I can access the world and, of course, the world can access me. It is a gift I am truly grateful for. It makes so many things in my life much more convenient.

But it all comes at a price. And not merely a monetary one. (You thought the hundreds of pounds you spent was expensive? Wait till you realise the price to your soul! I jest…kind of!)

As we spend ever-increasing amounts of time using our smartphones, the potential for a negative effect on our health and well-being increases. Used well, they can undoubtedly enhance our lives, but if they become the master and not just a servant, their effect can be hugely detrimental.

Take notifications. On the one hand they can alert us to important information that helps us make decisions and go about the business of life more effectively, saving us time. But on the other, if we’re not careful, we can find our phones buzzing and beeping so often we end up in a constant state of reaction, endlessly at the mercy of whatever happens to be popping up on our phone’s screen.

That is why we would all probably benefit from taking regular smartphone sabbaths. We need a break from the non-stop disturbances our phones can create. Who of us wouldn’t benefit from having certain times in our day, week, month, and year, where we switch off from all this?

One practical way we can do this is by using the technology most of our phones actually offer. Lately I’ve changed the settings on my iPhone so it stops disturbing me after 8.30pm each evening and it doesn’t start again until 8.30am the next morning. My phone doesn’t buzz, beep, vibrate, or light up at both the start and end of my day. Oh the peace! I’m so glad I made this change. I’m also thinking I‘m going to have one day each week where I have my phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode all day. It’s not that I can’t check it or use it necessarily; it’ll simply be a complete break from always reacting to the latest buzz in my pocket.

The steps you take may well look different to mine, but the essential truth is that we would probably all find it good for our health and well-being to take a sabbath from our smartphones periodically. I know all too well how easy it is to become slaves to these wonderful devices. And I for one want to make sure that I live life proactively rather than in an endless state of reaction to the latest notification that’s just appeared on my phone.

Are there any decisions you could make today that would help build sabbath into how you use your smartphone?

Originally published at

Sabbath: Saying no

Sabbath: The TV slump