A brief interview with Arlene Pellicane (’92), author of Calm, Cool, and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Life (Moody Publishers, 2017).

Q: What are signs that our digital attachments are disrupting our lives?

A: I like to ask this question of myself and others, “Is technology bringing your family and friends closer together or driving you farther apart?” For many of us, the phone is more of a disrupter than a connector. If your friends or family members say things like, “Hello, I’m over here!” as you stare at your phone, that’s a problem. If you aren’t getting a good night’s sleep because of screen use, can’t survive a few hours without Wi-Fi, or can’t seem to curb your video game playing, those are other indications of unhealthy attachments.

Q: Research indicates our growing addiction to smartphones are producing greater anxiety and distractedness. Why is it so hard for us to put down our phones?

A: The phone has become a digital binky that’s hard to do without. Social media and video games are created to keep us coming back for more. We’re expected to text back immediately and be available 24/7. We’ve become dependent on the instant information on our phones, from weather forecasts to daily news. We pick our phones up when we’re bored or alone. We’ve become accustomed to stillness or silence, yet those are places to recharge and hear the voice of God.

Q: Technology and smartphones are not all bad — so what's your favorite app or convenience provided by your digital devices?

A: When I was traveling a few months ago through the cornfields of Illinois for a speaking engagement, having Google Maps was pretty amazing! I can use my phone to take credit card payments when I sell books. Years ago, I would have lugged around a bulky credit card machine. I also love Focus on the Family radio theater, “Adventures in Odyssey,” which my kids love listening to in the car with the app.