With so much focus on children’s addiction to screen time it is often forgotten that adults suffer the same illness. While grown ups may be slightly more self aware that their cells phone use is a problem, the issue remains… how do I put it down?
Many people know there are countless downsides to having their cell phone with them at all times, yet there are often just as many justifications. Let’s explore a few. I NEED to have my cell phone with me at all times because… 1. It is my only form of communication. I have no land line at my house. 2. It is my only clock. I don’t wear a watch, and it is my alarm clock. 3. It is my camera, and what if I am somewhere and have to take a photo? 4. My calendar is on my phone, all my appointments and my entire schedule. 5. I need to be able to check my e-mail constantly for work. 6. What if someone needs to get a hold of me when I’m out? 7. What if I am in an emergency, a car crash, my dogs takes off during a walk, etc… Plus my children need to be able to get in contact with me at all times, and vice versa. 8. All my music is on my phone. 9. I track my children (and spouses) location using my phone. 10. My phones access to social media is how I stay up to date on current events.
Alright some of the aforementioned justifications are just silly. Get a land line, buy an alarm clock, start wearing a watch, order a state of the art datebook to keep track of your appointments, and read the newspaper. The problem is we live in a world of convenience and lets be honest… cell phones are convenient.
However here is the GLARING truth… as convenient as they are, they are creating a demographic of people who cannot interact with each other, they are causing parents to miss out on once in a lifetime moments because they just had to order that new part for the sink on Amazon this very second. They are teaching our children that they come in second, and have to work harder just to get a fraction of our full attention. And that my friends is the most devastating result of these “convenient” devices. Our children often feel like they come in second to our cell phones. OUR CELL PHONES!
“Mom you wouldn’t believe the day I had in school today!” Piper enthusiastically tells her mom at pick up. “Oh yea what happened?” Asks Piper’s mom who is currently texting, or scrolling, or emailing, or posting. The problem is Piper doesn’t know what her mom is doing on the phone, all she knows is that she has to work harder to get her moms attention. “It was wild mom. Remember how I couldn’t remember how to spell my last spelling word in the car this morning? Well I remembered and got a 100% on my test!” Piper is wide eyed with anticipation for her mothers reactions. “Piper that is great sweetie” her mom replies not taking her eyes off her phone. “Mom are you listening to me?” Piper asks now with both annoyance and anger in her voice. “Of course darling” her mother replies still eyes set on her iphone 7. “No your not mom!” Piper now pulls on her mothers jacket and tries to shove the test she was so thrilled to share just minutes ago into her mothers hands. Well don’t you know Piper’s mothers eyes lift from her screen, and glare at her daughter. “Piper don’t pull on my jacket, that is rude and inconsiderate. You need to learn that behavior is unacceptable. We are going home now.”
Think this scenario is few and far between? Think again. Our children are desperately seeking out attention. No not your half, non nonchalant, “mmhhh sweetie” attention. They want eye contact. No, they deserve eye contact. They deserve time with you outside when you are not on your phone. I could go on and on about the desperation I see every day for children to get their parents full attention, but my goal today is to provide some tips for the parent who is aware that they are one their phone too much, yet cannot put it down.
If this describes you, please do not feel ashamed. Ladies and gentlemen the truth is our convenient cell phones are an addiction like any other. You either control how you use it, or it will consume you. None of the following tips are necessarily easy… but whether or not is is worth it for you personally… only you can decide. Here we go: 1. Buy yourself an alarm clock, and watch. In fact buy a few hanging wall clocks to have around your house. It is normal to want to know what time it is, but you do not need your cell phone for that. 2. Invest in a landline if you can afford it. We live in a world where everyone expects to be able to reach you at all times. Well guess what… you do not have to live that way. If it is an emergency your family members and friends can call the land line. 3. Protect family time like it is your greatest treasure, (it really is). Turn your cell phone off, or if you cannot bring yourself to do that yet, turn it on silent. Place it in a communal basket away from where your family is gathering. Put it down and leave it behind whenever possible. Expect to feel uncomfortable, that just goes to prove to you how addicted you have become to your device. 4. Pick a few times throughout your busy day where you refuse to look at your phone. For example during coffee with a friend, on date night with your spouse, when you pick your child up from school, when you eat breakfast in the morning (even when you’re by yourself). 5. To help with the transition of less phone use carve out time when your children are in bed to indulge on your phone. Check your Facebook, Instagram, email, NPR, whatever it is you do, but limit this time to 30-45 minutes once a day.
I have never met a person who made the commitment to limit their cell phone use and did not feel vastly different within two days time. Ask yourself does the convenience of your cell phone out way the self harm to your psyche, and the heartbreaking knowledge that you children feel like they come in second to a stupid, stinking, device? (Pause in case you want to throw your cell phone against the wall at this point, I know I have.)
When we are old and looking back over our life as so many people do… let our generations final regrets not be “I wish I had looked up. I wish I hadn’t spent so much time on my damn phone.”
If you try to limit your phone use please comment below on your experience!
In love and light!