Confession time. I have been known to be on my phone too much.
I hate that I do this–I hate that I get sucked into my phone. I hate that it is a constant temptation. I hate that I love my iphone so much…but I really do love it.
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Etsy, Email, Text Message…I love you all. I just love you!
But while on vacation this last week I started to realize that things were getting out of control. Sure, it was fine for me to hop from article to article through Facebook while I nursed the baby to sleep, but then when I laid the baby down and joined my husband in the evening I had a hard time putting it down, and even when I did my mind was still there, scrolling, scrolling, scrolling.
And more than anything, I hate being on my phone around the kids, and I work very hard not to be.
But I’m with the kids All. The Time. and if I’m not careful I’m on my phone, looking at this, looking at that, before I even know it. Seriously, sometimes it’s like I’m sleepwalking and suddenly come-to with my phone in my hand. Wait, how did I get here? What am I doing exactly?
Of course I (we all) can justify the constant phone use. Oh, I need to send that email now! Oh, I should just get on my phone and buy that now! Oh, what will the weather be like tomorrow, I need to know now! Oh, I should pin some ideas for dinner now! Oh, my kid is so cute–I need to take a picture and share it on Instagram now!
Now! Now! Now!
And, before I can process another thought, I’m on my phone doing something stupid and (likely) missing one of those golden moments with my kids.
Since vacation I have set out to be very purposeful with my phone use. I decided I needed a radical change.
For the most part I’ve just worked to leave my phone behind. When I come down in the morning I leave my phone in my bedroom. When we go outside to play I leave my phone inside. When at to the lake I bury my phone in the bottom of the beach bag. When I head up to nurse the baby, I go without my phone. And honestly, it’s been wonderful. I feel like all those frantic monkeys I had on my back screaming “now! now! now!” are just gone.
I had forgotten what REAL quiet is like–you know quiet that is peaceful and muted, not bright white and scrolling, scrolling, scrolling.
And this time away from my phone has given me some clarity–some insights into a few of the mistakes I have made with my phone use, things I really want to improve so that I can start setting a better example for my children because that is what’s really at stake here. If I’m not a good steward of my technology, what chance do they have of ever being one?
1. I Use My Phone to Escape
This was my biggest revelation–and the most bitter pill to swallow concerning my phone use.
I was starting to use my phone to escape the painful/annoying/lonely/frustrating moments I sometimes found myself in.
I would be ashamed of the way I just snapped at my son and suddenly I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed. My husband would call to say that he won’t be home until 7pm and I’d have Instagram up instantly. My pre-pregnancy clothes still don’t fit and I’d jump onto Pinterest. It took reading Daring Greatly to understand this–to see how I was using my phone to pull myself out of these moments. To escape.
The thing about smart phones is that they have the power to transport you out of your situation instantly. The kids are screaming, my husband is annoying me, my friends aren’t calling and I’m upset, but I flip open that phone–and I’m gone.
But I don’t want to live this way–checked out. Plus, escaping, whether it be physically or mentally, never fixed anything. Zoning out on my phone didn’t correct my son’s behavior or bring my husband home sooner or help me loose weight, and it didn’t even help me forget these problems. All zoning out ever did was pull me away from those I love most.
And that certainly doesn’t make me feel any better.
2. I Use My Phone Without Purpose
Okay, I’ve been scrolling Facebook for 10 minutes now. Wait, what did I open up my phone for? I did had a reason, didn’t I?
How many times does that happen to me, a day. Like every time I open up my phone to make a phone call. And it continues to happen because I am totally aimless and purposeless in my phone usage. With all the time I’ve been spending on my phone the device became a toy, and not a tool. Every time I picked it up it was time for entertainment, forget the actual reason I reached for it.
In recent days I have been working on being purposeful. I try to think clearly about what I need to use my phone for BEFORE I pick it up. And, even with this, if I swipe open my phone and the Facebook app is open I still get sucked in.
Gotta remember to close that.
But I desperately want to return to the days when my phone was a tool and I used it as such. I need some distance, some respect and more mindfulness each and every time I pick up my phone.
To be clear, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram all serve a purpose and I am have no intention of deleting these apps. I just need to be in control of when I use them.
3. I Didn’t Discern the Technology Before I Had It
Yes, discern. Like to think long and hard before leaping in.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not Amish. I’m not even crunchy. I love technology and all of our modern conveniences. Something to make my life easier? Cool!
And this is how I approached getting a smart phone a few years ago. At the time my only thought was that having an iPhone would make sharing photos easier. I had no idea just how much a smart phone would change my life–how it has changed all of our lives.
Out in public, anywhere and everywhere, we are all on our phones all the time. It’s common. From the moment we first got that smart-phone our lives were changed. Our lives were easier in many ways, but more distracted in EVERY way.
And I got into this all of this without a thought, without a care.
Perhaps this is why my phone usage was getting out of control. I failed to acknowledge how powerful a smart-phone is. How distracting. How addicting. How alluring.
I failed to give any of this any thought and then proceeded to fall deep under it’s spell.
But I don’t want to be this way. I don’t want to live distracted. I don’t want to be the mom at the park glued to my phone while my kids act out to get my attention. I don’t want to be the wife finding comfort in my phone and not in my husband and I don’t want to be a woman who has last track of real peace, quiet and reflection because I just can’t put down my phone.
I write all of this because of my children. If I can’t unplug, if I can’t engage in the life beyond my phone, how will they? They have the disadvantage of being children around these addictive devices. I was an adult when I first encountered a smart phone and still made poor choices.
But I am determined to change.
As you can see, I’ve shared a lot of bad choices I’ve made, not a ton of concrete solutions. I’d love for you to take a minute and share a few ways you or your family is working to put down the phones and engage in real life together. I’m hungry for any tips you might have.
Thanks, as always, for being here,
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