My mother, who has since gone to be with the Lord, believed in old-school face time.

She tells of a time my nieces and nephews were visiting her. They were all in the living room and on their devices.

She said that she sat there while no one talked to each other. Suddenly she clapped her hands and exclaimed, “Put those things down and you are going to talk to one another for awhile.”

Quietly the phones were turned off as she started the conversation.

Many studies have shown that social contact can protect against loneliness, suicide and other disorders. But can social media do the same?

An article from the Journal of Affective Disorders, Jan. 15 edition, notes a study on veterans: “According to a recent study in an online survey of 587 veterans who all used Facebook, researchers identified participants showing signs of major depression, PTSD, alcohol use disorder, and suicidal behaviors. Their results showed that those who engage in face-to-face contact at least a few times per week had a 50 percent lower risk for major depression and PTSD compared with participants for whom Facebook was the main social outlet.”

Studies need to continue on alcohol and suicidal behavior. How many times do we hear about incidents where mass murder occurred and the person was a loner, isolated on the internet?

God created us to have relationships with direct contact: talking, listening, crying, laughing with one another. Paul once said to the Thessalonians, “But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you — I, Paul, again and again — but Satan hindered us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:17-18).

Does Satan rob us sometimes when we get focused on impersonal social media or internet activity that takes time from intimate contact? Maybe God is telling us to put those devices down and spend some time with family and friends. Maybe He is clapping and saying, “Put those things down and spend some time with Me.”

Ken Locke is community ministries director of The Salvation Army in Warsaw and director of the Greater Warsaw Ministerial Association. Have ideas for this column? Go to