Do you ever feel like you have a love-hate relationship with your phone? (No need to clarify I’m referring to a cell phone because house phones are almost obsolete these days for most families.) Or just technology in general? We live in an age where all of our advances in technology can be both a blessing and a curse. I’ve been conflicted and convicted quite often lately regarding my screen time, particularly with my phone. Long gone are the days when a cell phone was just a phone. They’re way too smart for that now. In reality, actually placing a call is probably the least of how they’re used these days. From texting and emails to games and social media and everything in between, it’s all accessible with a swipe of your fingertip, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So before your toes start getting stepped on, just remember mine have been stomped on quite a bit lately, hence the love-hate relationship and the prompting of this post.
I didn’t give in to the smart phone craze immediately. I knew if I had one I would get sucked into checking my email, browsing Pinterest and stalking people on Facebook way to easily. So I kept putting it off and putting it off…until I had my first child. Then I caved. Because of course I needed a phone that could take high definition pictures to send to family and friends, right? What first time mom is not obsessed with taking pictures of her beloved child? Which brings me to my first point…picture overload! I love having the ability to capture picturesque moments at basically any moment of the day. There are so many memories that were captured and for that I’m thankful. But as I’ve been organizing printed pictures that have accumulated over the last three years and placing them into albums, I’ve realized I have SO MANY PICTURES…probably TOO MANY if we’re down right honest. Rather than just capturing those truly special occasions, it’s almost as if we often try to capture every moment. Which then takes away from just enjoying the moment.
My husband and I have discussed the cell phone/social media debacle many a times, particularly in how it can affect relationships. On the love side, it enables us to stay more connected in multiple ways with those who live great distances away. But on the flip side, I believe it can do a disservice at times to those we are actually spending time with. Have you ever people watched at a restaurant, park, etc. where a family or group of friends are together and noticed how much time is spent looking down at phones rather than up making eye contact? Try it sometime. I promise you’ll be amazed. When we first got married before either of us even had a smart phone, Matthew and I made rule that has been maintained ever since: No phones at the table. No matter if it’s at home or out, there’s not texting, calling or surfing during a mealtime. Surely everything can wait at least 30 minutes.
Now, since we’re so accustomed to having everything at our fingertips instantly, we also have grown to expect instant responses. What’s the deal when we text, call or email someone and they don’t respond within a certain time frame? After all, my phone says it was delivered and read, correct? And I just saw them logged in on FB as they posted their most recent selfie. The problem is we live in a world that promotes instant gratification and self-centeredness; therefore we forget that everybody has a life and that their life doesn’t revolve around us.
It seems as if the human race has evolved into growing an extra appendage during this technology explosion too. We carry our phones EVERYWHERE we go. And if we forget it, it’s almost like a part of us has been amputated. We feel lost, incomplete and frantic. When was the last time you left your phone at home, on purpose, to run to the grocery store? Are you kidding? What if there was an emergency and someone needed me that instant? You may laugh, but we all know it’s true. Matthew has been somewhat liberated in his job this year. He’s not allowed to have a cell phone at all in his office. Every morning he locks it up before entering his building and doesn’t get it back until the end of the day when he leaves. I’m almost kind of envious.
So what even prompted this long rant of a blog? What was the straw that broke the camel’s back? Well I knew I had been having my nose in my phone more often than usual and had already been consciously trying to set some limitations. But then my two year old (who’s all into pretend play and imitating others) came walking in one day “checking his email” on a baby toy. Monkey see monkey do.
Now that I’m getting ready to come down off my soapbox, I want to leave us with a challenge. I’m challenging myself and want to challenge you as well to set some limitations and establish some ground rules with our phone time. Here are some suggestions for starters.
- No phones at the table. Let mealtime be face to face time only.
- Take social media off your phone. I recently deleted FB off my phone so it’s not as easily accessible and I have to go to my actual computer to check it. And I limit myself to checking it only once or twice a day.
- Power off. Make a point to physically power off your phone for a set time everyday or even just once a week. Matthew and I have talked about having a set day once a week or so where our phones are ONLY used for calls. No texts, emails, videos, etc. We haven’t put it into practice yet, but I do think it’s a great idea. Maybe we could call it Tech-free Thursday or Freedom Friday.
- Out of sight, out of mind. When family and friends are over, put it out of sight and earshot or silence it.
- Live dangerously and go to the store sometime without it.
What are your suggestions? Does your family already have ground rules? If so I’d love to hear them as I try to find balance in this love-hate relationship!
And just for the record, if you’re one of the few who has not given in to the smart phone era, I applaud you! Because once you’re in it’s like quicksand, there’s no turning back!