As the digital culture continues to develop in the 4th industrial revolution our lives are being transformed beyond imagination. At the same time, we see the dark side of this emerging culture. A diocesan priest writes in the Catholic Times' column of what he has heard on studies on the use of smartphones in Korea.
We call the society in which we live the addicted society. An addiction that destroys our humanity and the society in which we live. Humorously we say in one family the father was addicted to pornography, the mother to shopping, the daughter to SNS, and the son to games. These addictions bring serious harm not only to the individual and families but they break down the spirituality and the trust among believers: the church lost in the culture of death.
Children and infants are the ones potentially the most venerable. This problem has been with us for some time but appearing even among infants under 5 years old who can't be separated from their smartphones.
As smartphones become a necessity for children the average age of first use is just under 3 years of age. The problem is the use of smartphones at an early age according to some experts are serious obstacles to brain growth and development. Researchers found an imbalance in the brain chemistry of young people addicted to smartphones and the internet.
A child's brain develops unevenly making it difficult to learn, remember and judge information. Language development may be delayed. Peer relationship may not be smooth and communication difficult and aggressive. The writer mentions talking to an authority in the field who was overly concerned about the harm being perpetrated on our young people.
His words showed the inability to compromise, to sympathize and feel the pain and suffering of others. This is not a good sign for society as we get more who are indifferent to what is happening in society and this will continue to old age. No room for love, experiencing and showing mercy to others.
There is a new word used 'Smombie', a smartphone zombie: combination of the word smartphone and zombie. A pedestrian who walks slowly and without attention to their surroundings focused on the smartphone, now a significant safety hazard.
Silence is now being marketed as more people are escaping from the digital noise. Noise detox products are released. The 'Buddhist Temple Stay' is popular because people seek silence, calm and peace.
The Catholic Church has also begun 'Seoul Stay', a period of retreat away from the digital world and a time for silence, self-examination, meditation, a time for prayer and renewal. A believer taking time out for a retreat once a year will be a good opportunity to get away from the digital noise, addiction and to look over one's life.