I have a confession. The other morning, my husband and I were sitting on the couch enjoying our coffee….and our phones. We had been sitting there together scrolling through social media and checking email for at least 10 or 15 minutes without saying a word to each other. Finally, my husband says, “Well, this is nice.” (insert sarcasm here). This isn’t my confession—my confession is that this scenario was happening at our house more than I care to admit. We don’t have cable (by choice), so rather than watching TV like many people probably do, we find ourselves scrolling through Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, or watching YouTube videos.
I have a feeling that we aren’t alone. Are social media and smartphones having this large of an effect on quality time we spend with our significant others? Our family? Our friends? Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I spend a lot of quality time together, but we’re actively making an effort to leave our phones “out” of this quality time. Quality time is one more piece to the puzzle of a healthy lifestyle, just like eating a healthy diet and getting an adequate amount of exercise.
A few weeks ago I was at an event, and the speaker said that when you have your phone sitting out on the table while you’re with others, it sends a direct message that the people you are with aren’t your sole focus. You are sending a message that when your phone rings, or if you get a text message, THAT is your priority. Side note: flipping your phone over, so the screen isn’t facing upward doesn’t make a difference. It’s still inconsiderate. This comment really stuck with me because I was (and occasionally still am) guilty of this. Are you guilty of this? At home? At work? While you are out with friends?
Part of this phone issue is pure habit. But bad habits can be broken just like good habits can be created. The other issue is the expectation of immediate response. I know I’m not alone in feeling that I need to immediately respond to text messages. But you know what? The beauty of text messages is that you DO have the choice to answer it at your convenience. The other day, I texted my mother-in-law, and she didn’t answer for THREE HOURS! When she did respond, she explained she was out with a few friends and doesn’t like to pull her phone out while she is with others. Kudos to my mother-in-law! I hope this practice will eventually rub off on everyone.
I am challenging myself to keep my phone in my purse while I am with friends or family or even in meetings. While at home, my husband and I are working on leaving our phones in another room for at least part of the morning and part of the evenings.
I hope you’ll join me in this challenge! Like anything, it will be hard at first, but will get easier the longer you stick with it. Quality time doesn’t have much “quality” to it when you have your phone sitting beside you checking it every few minutes. And I think we can all admit that we can’t have too much quality face-to-face time with our loved ones.