Let me start by saying, we’re ALL guilty of this. I don’t know about you, but having Google in the palm of my hand has made me feel like my knowledge is UNLIMITED. That’s a powerful feeling, people. I hate when I am pressed with a question that I don’t know the answer to. With the use of my iPhone in hand, it takes me a few short moments to answer the world’s most perplexing questions- “Siri, do toilets flush counter clock-wise in Australia?” They were right when they said, “knowledge is power!” However, in my quest for unlimited knowledge, it is becoming more and more clear that the grasp that technology has on me is quite a big one.
Just like you and everyone else I know, when I get a notification that I have another “like” on my Facebook picture, or a text message comes through, every inch of me needs to check and see who liked what or what was that text was about. I can’t think of anything else but what is on that phone! It’s like the phone is calling my name, “Ashley!!!! Look and see what I have for you…You need to look at me!” I start to itch, feening for a hit of tech. The only thing that satisfies it is if I stop what I’m doing, pick up my phone, unlock my screen and check it.
We may not be doing our deeds in dark alleyways or curled up with heated spoons in seedy motels. Instead, we are getting our fix out in the open and everyone around us is doing the same thing. So, is it really a problem? Let me ask you this, how many times have you gone out to dinner to find everyone around you nose deep in their phones? How many times have you and your family been guilty of doing the same thing? The answer is probably more than we would like to admit. We always have an excuse as to why we need our phones with us at all times- “I’m waiting for this really important email from work.” “The kids are with the babysitter, what if something happens?” I know this is hard to believe, but there was a time when emails weren’t answered at all hours of the day and kids were left alive and well with the babysitter. The world didn’t end by not having a mobile device on you! I know, crazy, right?!
I could go on and on and show you all the stats that mental health professionals are coming out with on technology abuse. I could even say how technology is negatively affecting our children and so forth. However, I’ll just keep it simple and urge you to just look at your day. If you are getting the “itch” when you get a little notification on your phone, you’re addicted to your technology. So, the question is, how do we break the addiction? Here are 5 things that we have found helpful in our household. Just to be clear, we are NOT mental health professionals. We are just every day, regular people who are trying to break our addiction to technology. For the record, my husband is more addicted to his phone than I am mine, but I am working on him.
1.) Have a no technology rule at the dinner table.
We know that life is hectic and that regular family dinner time may be a dying fad, however when your family does decide to gather, make sure to institute a “no technology rule” at the dinner table. Leave your phones in the car when you are out to dinner. Treat date night the same way. If you do have to bring your phone with you for whatever reason, the person who looks at the phone the most must pay the bill at the end. The family dinner table is an important pastime that we need to bring back to the forefront. Dinner time should be where everyone talks about their day, what they have going on in the week and anything in between. It is the time where we re-connect as a family and the only way to do that is if we put down the phones, turn off the TVs and talk with each other…FACE TO FACE.
2.) Keep your phone out of your bedroom.
Using your phone as an alarm clock is not an excuse to have it in your bedroom. They have these things that are called alarm clocks…They have numbers on them, tell time and you program them to go off when you need to get up in the morning. Look them up, they are pretty incredible. Bringing your phone into the bedroom causes A LOT of issues. One-your sex life goes down and no one wants that. Two-you don’t just use your phone as an alarm clock, you use it to play Candy Crush or surf Facebook which overstimulates you and makes it harder to fall asleep. All things that are not good for you. The last thing you should be doing before you go to sleep is kissing your spouse, not checking Instagram.
3.) Limit your time on your smartphone when in line or in the bathroom.
This may come as a shock to some people, but it’s ok to be bored. Think of when you were a kid in school. When you were bored, you daydreamed. You were able to think up the most fascinating things. Channel your inner 10-year-old when you’re in line waiting for your Starbucks, or better yet, strike up a conversation with a stranger, be neighborly. People watch-hopefully not in the bathroom but in line at Starbucks-and make stuff up about them. Use your brain to entertain yourself. Break the knee-jerk reaction of reaching for your phone when you’re bored of something and start relying on your imagination, you’ll be surprised by how much fun it is.
4.) Disable notifications on your smartphone.
If you don’t have something that goes off causing the “itch”, then you won’t have the need to have your “fix”. After all, you wouldn’t pour an alcoholic a glass of wine and give it to them, treat your addiction to technology the same way. Turn off all notifications, including text messages. If someone is trying to get in touch with you, they will call you. Give yourself “tech checks” where you allow only a few times a day to check social media or your text messages. Find other things to do instead of scrolling Twitter- like reading a book or enjoying a game with the family. Disabling notifications won’t cause you to constantly check your phone, in fact, it allows you to ignore it, relax and forget about it.
5.) When all else fails, use technology against technology.
The beautiful thing about technology is that there is something for EVERYTHING, including breaking your tech addiction. There are multiple apps out there that track the amount of time you spend on your phone and your time on social media. Download one and start seeing how much time you are spending on your phone. Give yourself a daily limit and if you hit that limit, unplug and put your phone away until the next day. We use “Moment for Apple.” It tells you how much you’ve been on your phone and locks it when you go over your daily screen time limit- giving you no choice but to put your phone and other devices away.
Look, we get that technology isn’t going away anytime soon. The last thing we are is a bunch of hippies that think we should unplug from the World completely. But we can’t deny the fact that there is a problem. Prioritizing the importance of technology over anything else in life is just a recipe for disaster. Hopefully, you found these tips and tricks helpful so you can focus on something other than the “itch”.
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