Cell phone addicts are everywhere. You can easily spot the individual walking and typing or scrolling among a crowd of people. How often have you noticed every patron during a meal focused on their phones and not engaging in lively animated conversation? Often? Yes! What about the cell phone addicts we don’t see? The ones who are checking their social media pages or responding to a text while driving? According to the Pew Research Center, two out of three Americans today own a smart phone. As a result, we have a phone that is so smart, so connected to web browsing, email, and texting that we have become fearful of missing something… anything. In this age of “quick responses,” even when driving 70 miles an hour, there is a need to text a word or two back. If you want to detox from your phone addiction – however noticeable – there are ways to “shut down” from the technological world to fully enjoy face-to-face conversations and dinners with family and great friends.
Here are five important questions and solutions.
- Do you sleep with your phone? If so, you are not alone. Eighty percent of 18 to 44 year olds not only use their phone as an alarm clock, but “check their phones” prior to any other morning activity. Two immediate solutions are to start using your alarm clock again, and put your phone beside your keys and other items in the foyer. This one change may be an “awakening” for you. In lieu of reaching for your phone, you may choose to cuddle with your spouse, sit down and enjoy breakfast with the family, or take the dogs for a morning stroll through the neighborhood.
- Do you carry your phone everywhere, including the bathroom? In lieu of taking your phone, why not make a promise to leave it in your purse or on the kitchen counter? Adding up the total minutes spent in the bathroom, you may feel you are spending quite a bit of time “locked” away from the world.
- Do you panic when you have misplaced your phone? Our phones may have reached a value more important than our car keys or our wallets; therefore, more people experience moments of panic when they are without reach of their phones. It even has two titles – “nomophobia” or “cell phone separation anxiety.” Only six percent of our society feel relieved to be without their phones. As a result, number four is an important follow-up.
- Do you feel an impulse to check your phone every few minutes? Have you considered turning off ALL notifications? That list includes emails, texts, missed phone calls, and social media comments and “likes.” Yes, turning off notifications will make your smart phone, just a phone, with incredible perks. If you find that your phone is getting you into trouble at work, it is time to turn off the ringer or the phone and check it during a lunch break and when you have safely made it home.
- Are you on the phone during social situations and missing important conversations? Sometimes, the bigger question needs to be asked. Are the people you are with more important than those who are posting or commenting about their own lives? Your life and social happiness need to be enjoyed. Try leaving your phone in the car when attending social functions to the theater or outings with friends, and, as much as it serves as a distraction, keep it hidden during meetings, workshops, or classes.
Creating boundaries with your phone is needed these days. While these provisions are necessary, we need to come together as a family and make household promises, especially with our teenage children. Make a vow to turn off your phone while driving, and to eat meals without any form of technology. In lieu of texting one another in the house, give each other the most satisfying symbol of all: real smiles and actual hugs!