It’s the norm now—most people always have some sort of technological device in their hands, most of the day. Whether it is a cell phone, iPad, laptop, or anything else, technological devices are a part of everyday life. People have grown accustomed to using them, and to an extent, are dependent on them. There are many benefits to technology and using these devices, such as writing this article on my laptop. Yes, I could write it by hand, but using a laptop is less time-consuming (and easier to delete mistakes). Other advantages are improved communication. Many people have a cell phone and can easily call family and friends, or call for help, if necessary. Also, technological devices give us instant access to news and information, an opportunity to network socially (individually or for businesses through social media and websites), and the ability to share ideas, pictures, and more through various apps and websites.
However, even with all the advantages of using cell phones, iPods, and other devices, there are also disadvantages. These drawbacks include a feeling of social isolation and distraction when you’re with loved ones, at work, or watching an event. They can also put a strain on your eyes, especially when looking at the screen’s lighting in the dark. While it is always tempting to use some sort of electronic device, it is good to give them a break now and then. Going device-free can be a challenge. You might have to find new ways to communicate and watch movies, for example. However, you’ll be glad you took this challenge and spent some time away from technology. Don’t know how to get started? Below are some ideas for going device-free.
- Start small and have a device-free meal with your family and friends. Everyone involved makes a commitment to laying down their electronics and putting them in a space away from the table and kitchen. Place a basket or designate a spot for all the devices to go. Then, start talking to get people fully distracted from their devices. Ask questions, play games, or share ideas to get the conversation going. In addition to meal time, take this idea a step further. Try having device-free holidays, device-free small trips, and more. This simple act can help family members and friends get closer and spend more time together.
- Another tip to easily break up with your device is by seeing how many times you use it. Apps, such as Checky, keep track of how often you use your device. This app helps prevent people from looking at their phones, because it drains the phone’s battery. According to Dr. David Greenfield, with The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, it can seem counterintuitive to check your phone when you are trying to use it less. However, recording how much time you are spending on your phone and how many times a day you’re checking it lets people become aware of how problematic their cell phone use is. Set limits for yourself and your usage. Try to spend no more than 90 minutes per day or 15 minutes at a time.
- Also, set limits on social media. Determine a time, day, or a full weekend when you don’t post or check your social media accounts. This can be hard at first, but soon it will become a habit. Dr. Greenfield states, “There’s this idea that if other people don’t know you’re doing something, it has no value. This means we spend more time documenting what we’re doing, instead of living our lives.” Instead of Snapchatting your trip to Disney World and Facebooking your pictures of your Friday night concert with friends, take a few pictures to remember the moment, but don’t spend the whole time with a phone in your face. As Ferris Bueller once said, “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” If you’re feeling extra daring, delete your social media apps for a full-on break. Reactivate your accounts when you feel as if you are relaxed and reenergized.
Going device-free gives you the opportunity to focus on things that are important in your life. It gives you the chance to reconnect face-to-face with family members and friends, and experience moments in life through your eyes, instead of a screen. Going device-free will become a habit, and you’ll learn to depend less and less on your electronics to get you through the day.
Originally published in Forsyth Family Magazine.