March 11, 2014 — Today’s personal devices may be wireless, but digital users seem to be more tethered than ever. From computer to phone to tablet to television, Americans spend more time in front of a screen than ever and show no signs of slowing down.

The effects of this widespread digitalization of life, for better or worse, are widely debated. But there can be no doubt about one thing: the digital life is here to stay, and it is changing everything. Work, faith, relationships, the very contours of young adulthood—all of these and more are dramatically shaped by the realities of our screen age.

Barna Group’s latest study reveals three cultural trends emerging out of the “new normal” of digital life.

The Hyperlinked Life
Digital life connects—and disconnects—adults in life and faith.

In 2013, two images of Saint Peter’s Square captured the world’s attention. The first, taken in 2005, shows a crowd attending the funeral of Pope John Paul II. The second, taken in 2013 from an angle similar to the first photo, shows a crowd observing the election of Pope Francis—only this photo exhibits a particular glow. Nearly every person in the picture is holding up a digital screen to capture the event.

These images are emblematic of a larger cultural shift that has just begun.

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