If I were to ask you what it is that you do, on average, 96 times a day, what would your answer be?
You already know the answer isn’t breathing—you do that a whopping 22,000 times a day. And no, it isn’t the number of times you blink your eyes. That can clock in at more than 19,000 times a day. But those figures are nothing compared to the number of times your heart beats in a day. Ready? It beats around 100,000 times every 24 hours.
So maybe now, doing something 96 times a day doesn’t seem so significant. At least, until you discover it’s the number of times each day the average person checks their phone. That is once every 10 minutes.
Texting is now so common among all age groups that even baby boomers (the oldest of whom are now 75 years old) are seven times more likely to text than talk in person, and twice as likely to send a text rather than dial a phone number. And not one of them is what you would call a digital native.
And it’s not just the frequency by which we are checking our phones that is noteworthy, but also the setting. We are checking them when we are with other people—and not only that, but in a conversational setting. While nine out of 10 Americans are offended when someone they’re speaking with starts looking at their phone, 75% of survey takers admit they’ve done it themselves. Nearly one in five say they do this frequently.
The issue isn’t that we check our phones frequently. To be fair, that’s the way our world is now communicating; it’s the way we get our news and the way we gain information. Checking our phones is akin to the way earlier generations checked their road maps, watched the TV for weather forecasts, picked up the phone (literally) and dialed, and listened to the radio.
The issue is our seeming inability to stop checking them even when engaged in a conversation with another person, or when sitting with your family at the dinner table, or when in a room during a social gathering. It’s not about checking your phone 96 times a day, but when you make those 96 checks.
So try this:
Make a conscious vow to go through the rest of today – just this one, solitary day – and intentionally attempt the discipline of not checking your phone during these three settings:
- When you are in a one-to-one conversation with another person.
- When you are in a meeting or group situation.
- When you are with your family for any meal or outing.
Try it for just one day. Yes, you’ll end up checking your phone a lot less,
… but you will end up connecting with people a lot more.
James Emery White
Chris Williams, “Americans Check Their Smartphones 96 Times a Day, Survey Says,” Fox 5, September 28, 2021, read online.
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I Believe” is now available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.