The average person substantially overuses his or her cell phone: just take a glance around a restaurant, waiting room or living room to see what I mean. You may even be among the overusers if . . .
You panic when you cannot find your cell phone.
You check your social media accounts before rubbing the sleep out of your eyes.
You upload a selfie every three hours.
You scroll Instagram at red lights.
You keep a charger in an outlet of every room.
You run 5+ social media accounts.
You friend over 3,000 people on Facebook.
You have fished your phone out of the toilet bowl more than once.
Okay, so you may not be this bad, but let’s level. Our phones hold incredible sway in our lives. Our devices organize our calendar and contacts, offer easy global networking, and deliver instant information and entertainment. Oh, and enable us to make phone calls. Truly amazing . . . also super distracting and addicting. Without some precaution this amazing tool easily rules our lives. Have you ever unlocked your phone before you even registered that you picked it up? Then it’s definitely time to place some (or all) of these practical safeguards on your cell phone usage (ahem, my cell phone usage).
Stop using your cell phone for everything! The convenience is costly. You unlock your phone to shut off your morning alarm and next thing you know, you’ve spent 30 minutes on Facebook. What’s a person to do? Intentionally pare down the ways you use your phone. Buy a $5 alarm clock to beat the temptation to squander your early morning. Set a kitchen timer (remember those?) when baking batches of cookies. Keep a physical calculator handy for at home calculations. Try exclusively using a laptop to check email and social media to stave off mindless scrolling. Most importantly, use your hardbound Bible when reading God’s Word to eliminate alluring distractions. We do not need our phones as much as we think we do.
Next, stop carrying your phone around in your pocket! Seriously, if you want to stop overusing your phone, then you have to set it down and walk away. You enable an impulsive reach if your phone always sits at arm’s length. Designate an official holding spot on the counter. In the intentional walk to retrieve your phone, be sure you actually need to use it. Text Grandma, dial your husband, snap the charming photo of the kids, but always put the phone back. You may miss a phone call, but you will certainly be more present with the people around you.
Finally, recruit help when battling a phone addiction! Talk with your husband about establishing parameters on your family’s phone practices. For instance, commit to turning your phone off when reading your Bible, eating meals, completing homework, attending church or sharing family time. Likewise, designate times of the day when it’s appropriate to use your phone for networking and entertainment such as naptime, bedtime or in the bathroom (just kidding!). Consider partnering with a friend to keep each other accountable because without help, you’ll probably forgo your good intentions in the first ten minutes. Live life in real community, not just in your virtual one.
In summary, one fights a mindless habit with mindfulness. Strive to focus on the faces in front of you instead of the superficial faces of social media. Whip up some active, concrete fun with your family instead of falling back on the passive entertainment of a screen. Try turning the physical pages of a musty book instead of index swiping a glass pane. Let yourself be inconvenienced, delayed, creative and personable. Above all, be intentional: rule your phone, or YOUR PHONE WILL RULE YOU. Thank you for reading my humble take on this burgeoning problem. Now, please turn off your phone and go spend time with real people. You won’t regret it.