*12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke

Tony Reinke sounds a timely warning about our society’s growing addiction to electronic devices.

*12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You by Tony Reinke.   Crossway, 2017, 224 pages.

Reading Level: Young Adult, age 16-up

Recommended for: ages 16-up

In his Foreward to this book, John Piper acknowledges the personal computer and iPhone as gifts of God: “a kind of friendly pack mule on the way to heaven” that can help with fellowship and sharing, Bible study and memorization, and prayer.  Yet he nods to our author’s “chastened enthusiasm” for technology and the peculiar pitfalls it poses.  Tony Reinke has done his homework, via extensive research and surveys both of seasoned culture-watchers and Christian ministers, in his effort to answer questions more relevant today than ever.  First, what effects does hand-held electronic technology have on unsuspecting users?  And second, how should Christians avoid the temptations while harnessing the unique advantages of smartphones and tablets for the glory of God?  The topic is especially timely as, in the ten years since the iPhone was introduced, there have been increasing reports of dependence and depression among teens who grew up with their phones and can’t conceive a life without them.

Reinke bought an iPhone as soon as it was on the market, and it was love at first use, so he’s no luddite.  Yet he recognizes the ways his phone has changed him, and while the “12 Ways” will not apply in every respect to every user, they are clear warning signs.  So, what are they, and how do they manifest themselves in us? Well, we could

  • become addicted to distraction,
  • ignore our flesh and blood,
  • crave immediate approval,
  • lose our literacy,
  • feed on the produced (rather than producing for ourselves),
  • become what we “Like”,
  • often feel lonely,
  • get comfortable in secret vices,
  • lose meaning,
  • fear missing out,
  • become harsh to one another,
  • lose our place in time.

Do you recognize any of these in yourself or your kids?  The good news is that, once we are alerted to the dangers we are more vigilant about spiritual discipline—which is always worthwhile.  The last chapter, “Living Smartphone Smart,” provides a rationale and guidelines for the smart (and holy) use of smartphones, as well as a self-check to determine if you might need a sabbatical.  If you own a smartphone (and who doesn’t? well . . . I don’t) or you’re thinking about getting one, this might be a worthy addition to your home library.

Cautions: None

Overall rating: 5 (out of 5)

  • Artistic value: 4.5
  • Worldview/moral value: 5

See our interview with Tony Reinke about literature and Lit!

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Janie is the VERY senior staff writer for Redeemed Reader, as well as a long-time contributor to WORLD Magazine and an author of nine books for children. The rest of the time she's long-distance smooching on her four grandchildren (not an easy task). She lives with her equally senior husband of almost-fifty years in the Ozarks of Missouri.


  1. Sunny on September 28, 2017 at 11:16 am

    Thank you for this review. I’m curious why it is for ages 16 and up and if something might be inappropriate for my 13 year old.

    • Janie on September 28, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      Hi Sunny! The age recommendation indicates interest, not inappropriate material. The book is written for adults and while some 13-year-olds could read and enjoy it, it will resonate more with older teens and adults.

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