We've all heard (and ignored) the stats about cell phone addiction. I've secretly struggled with the idea and blocked it from my mind. I like my phone. I love having immediate access to the web, Facebook, Twitter, Email, Direct Messenging...etc. etc. Do I really need to justify that?
Why should I feel guilty? It's not like I'm alone, right? I'll admit that I have left the house and realized 20 minutes into my drive that I left my phone at home and...I went back. Who doesn't do that? Yes, I check it all the time, even in the middle of church, to see if I'm missing anything. I've also been known to check it during a movie by hiding it (and my head) under a jacket. Does that mean it's a problem?
So, I've been living happily in my little world of denial for a while now. Until something happened that I could no longer ignore. I spent the day with some of my family exploring a State Park. It was a beautiful place full of trees, creeks, and even a really neat canyon with walkways providing access.
The next day, my son posted some pictures on Facebook and tagged me in a few. In one picture I was off by myself, cradling my phone, obviously intent on what I was seeing on the screen. My family was enjoying the beauty of the park and I was caught up in something on my phone. I wonder what it was? What could have been better than the interaction with people I love and the unique loveliness of the park?
It stayed with me, although I refused to talk about it with anyone until now. I'd love to tell you that I immediately got a handle on my problem, and...YES, it was/is a problem. However, the truth is I have been working to make small changes that are finally showing some results. It's been nearly a year. You read that correctly. A year.
Here's my goals:
- I try to leave the phone in the car when I am taking a walk with my family or at an outdoor activity. Currently, I'm at about a 50% success rate with this.
- I try to leave my phone off the table when I am eating with other people. I thought I was doing well that that one, but another Facebook photo recently busted me with phone right there on the table. I'm stepping up my efforts.
- I try not to look at my phone while I'm talking to other people. If my text messaging alert goes off, I do my best to completely ignore it. This is a BIG DEAL...or at least it was for me.
- If I do happen to look at my phone when an alert goes off, I try not to respond. I don't know why, but for some reason I've looked at "texting" and "responding" as though it were two separate things. Responding is the same as texting and it shouldn't happen during a conversation.
- I'm trying to be more conscious of time I spend doing anything on my phone. Because an IPhone has so many features, I can get lost in checking email, texts, Facebook, etc. If I've spent 5 minutes on each activity, it's easy for a half hour or more to pass without realizing it.
Overall, I think I'm doing much better than I was a year ago but there's still progress to be made. I encourage my students to consider their cell phone habits (and addictions) and to make positive changes. I now take note of families eating together in a restaurant while each of them has a phone in their hands. Is that really where we are all headed? I hope not.
I'm take a big step here to admit that I have a problem. I hope you'll consider adopting some of my goals. Feel free to comment if you have an additional idea or thought.