How many times per day do you check in with your smart phone? In a moment of silence, how many of you reach for your phone or tablet to fill that quiet still space?
As adults, our rest and relaxation has been replaced with mind sucking, over stimulating screen time which includes computers and T.V. And it’s sadly not just adults anymore, many kids have simply become accustomed to an electronic handheld device at their side to fill their quiet space and pacify their down time or free play.
Much of my work does require a computer and connecting with my staff and students does require me to stay plugged in, but being aware of the creep has helped me say no and step away slowly allowing me to create boundaries between me and my smart phone.
As for my kids, they do not know the joy and burden of a handheld device at this point in their lives; they do not own one and they do not get access to one- except on rare occasions when their auntie comes into town. Although this article is not geared towards kids, I urge parents to rethink their choices for their kids. They only know electronics because you buy them, and they only expect a tablet when you travel because you have instilled that comfort for them.
The average person checks his or her phone 110 times a day and in a narrowed down study it found that people check their phones on average 23 times per day for messaging, 22 times for voice calls and 18 times to get the time, I would love to see the stats for social media. How in the world do we even function, hold down a job, or even have a family that we interact with anymore?
It became aware to me that every time I would say I have no time, or that I didn’t have enough time, it was nothing more than a lie to myself as I sat there scrolling my phone and surfing the web.
Conversations with my kids and loved ones became half assed, teaching my kids to look at me when I talk to them and then my eyes too busy to look into theirs. Conversations with my husband became conversations with my husband with two bright screened devices propped between the two of us.
I was annoyed and frustrated because I needed this stupid device to do my job but as valuable as I would say my time was, apparently it wasn’t because I was wasting so much of it.
I want to urge you to reflect on your technology usage and how much of it (if any) is necessary and how much of it do you equate to relaxation, when in all honesty, there is nothing really relaxing about it. An over stimulated brain, sore hands and shoulders and messages lost in translation due to lack of human contact.
So to help you get on the right track here are a few tips to instill into your lives to hopefully move to smart phone savvy:
1. For one full day, be mindfull and notice how often you reach for your phone or tablet. The times you reach for it and if no one is calling you, then there is absolutely nothing pressing that you have to swipe the screen for.
Keep a tally if you really want to be disgusted with your dirty habit. And on day two, work to fight the urge, if no one is calling and it’s not a matter of you furthering your life-don’t pick it up.
2. Create a schedule. Just like you have to be to work by 9am and break for lunch at 12pm, schedule in specific times to scroll, post or play. If you have kids I urge you to refrain from using your mobile devices until they are in bed.
So how much time do you really need to do what you need to do? How much time is enough for you to “connect” with your peeps on Facebook, Instagram or e-mail?
Then after that 30 minutes or an hour, turn it off and step away. But like any addict in recovery, it will become uncomfortable taking away the fixation and dealing with this feeling.
3. Ask why? Before you pick up your phone or turn on your computer ask yourself why are you doing what you are doing, what do you hope to achieve or gain? And if you are posting about your life or commenting, what are you hoping to gain from that: gratification, confirmation, praise, sympathy, what? There is nothing on social media or the internet that human contact can’t replace.
4. Start a mindful practice. One minute, five minutes, thirty minutes, whatever you can commit to, put the phone down and take a breath, scan the body for pain or tension and if necessary get up and go for a quick walk or do a few jumping jacks to get your blood flowing again.
Technology seems to be doing a great job of reconnecting us all in a very disconnected way. So get up and re-connect with yourself.
5. Cut down slowly. No need to go cold turkey and I am not even suggesting getting rid of the cell phone or tablet, but rather using it for good and not evil. Consider omitting it in the morning and for at least 30 minutes before you go to bed.
6. Is your phone a time filler? I really noticed how much my phone became air time filler. You know, those moments where you aren’t talking, nothing is really going on, and instead of sitting and enjoying your kids swim lessons, or the summer sun or evening walk, you pull out that phone and start to scroll.
Every time you want to fill the space, look up and see what you could be missing, it’s this thing called life, and before you know it, it’s over and gone, and nothing quite frankly can replace the real thing, not even Facebook or Instagram.
7. Finally, work on talking to real live humans more. Human contact is an essential part of living and a privilege of living in the physical world. Could you call instead of text, or simply focus on actually looking at the person you are talking to without pulling out your phone.
I often wonder if technology is really bettering our lives or harming them. Next time you reach for your smart phone ask yourself this: is it necessary, can it wait; am I missing out on real living for a virtual one?