I was one of the last hold-outs when it came to getting a smart phone. It was the winter of 2014 and I was getting along just fine with my “talk and text” phone. Sure, I could see the benefits of mobile coupons and instant Facebooking but I could also see several of my friends zoned out, unable to carry on a conversation with me because they were constantly glancing at their phone. “Not me!” I thought. I won’t be controlled by that tiny computer! Six months later I noticed even my 13-year-old babysitters all had smart phones and I caved. Just like that.
Fast forward a year and I hang my head in shame as I admit, “My name is Brooke and I’m a smart phone addict.” And I’m not alone. 81% of people with smart phones keep them nearby almost constantly and check them several times an hour. Sound familiar?
So after a year of smart phone addiction I decided to go cold-turkey 30 days without a smart phone. I literally had my husband lock my smart phone away and I switched my service back to my old dinosaur phone. Here are some things I learned:
– I can, indeed go to the bathroom without my phone. You laugh, but admit it. You know you might be a few minutes in there and have to find your phone before you go to do your business.
-I can also fall asleep and watch TV without my smart phone. I’ll admit, the first few nights it felt really odd getting under the covers and turning off the lights without my nightly smart phone check. Most nights, that quick check turned into at least 30 minutes of precious sleep time wasted. And what’s up with checking the phone while watching TV? When’s the last time you JUST watched TV without another screen in your hand?
– I feel happier during the day when I check Facebook less often. I went from knowing what my neighbor ate for lunch to not even knowing when my husband’s 2nd cousin (who I’ve never met) had a baby. And I was fine with this lack of knowledge! It was nice not knowing all the adventures my friends were taking their kids on while I was at home doing laundry.
-My kids are capable of riding in the car without a screen. It was always a fight who got to play on my phone while we drove across town. After a week of whining about missing MY phone, my kids finally got used to looking out the window and playing 20 Questions.
But, my friends, it wasn’t all rosy. I missed that thing like crazy at first! Withdrawals maybe? I wasn’t balled up in the fetal position on my couch but my hand still continued to reach for a smart phone that wasn’t there and I continued to check my screen even though there was nothing there beyond an occasional text message.
Also, being part of a group text message was excruciating! How was I supposed to have riveting group text discussions about the Bromance on the Bachelorette without my group text option!? I didn’t know who was responding to what and figuring it all out was like putting a big, frustrating puzzle together.
The worst part is that I went from being constantly available to never knowing where my phone was. Since I was no longer attached to my smart phone, I didn’t really care where my dumb phone was all the time. I’d go an entire afternoon with my phone in my car without even realizing it.
I re-activated my smart phone yesterday after 34 days (because I lost my Flintstones Phone on a road trip) and I’m determined not to pick up where I left off. If you want to break a smart phone addiction without de-activating for 30 days here’s my advice.
#1 Delete Facebook off your phone. (Or Instagram or Pinterest…whatever your crack may be.) When you want to check in, sit down at a computer and give yourself a time limit. Also, get a Wi-Fi capable camera so you can instantly upload pictures to Facebook and Instagram without your phone.
#2 Make screen time more purposeful. If you’re like me, you’d go to check a text standing at your kitchen cabinet and find yourself still browsing 20 minutes later. All moms need little breaks during the day and a smart phone can be great for that, but plan when you will sit down with it and for how long. And stick to it.
#3 Go to bed and watch TV without your smart phone. And should I even have to mention dinnertime with the family? Be present where you are and spend time with those around you. Heck, even use the actual “phone” feature on your phone and call your college roommate.