On an unusually warm day a couple of weeks ago, I remember a quite lively walk home from work. I strolled by a bustling row of restaurants full of folks enjoying their meals on patios, joggers with their canine companions wagging alongside them, and a playground swarming with school-aged kids. It was while passing the playground that I became incredibly nostalgic. As a kid, I lived at the playground. Monkey bars, jungle gyms, the infamous slide all were my best friends. I remember calling out to my parents frequently for them to watch a new trick I created. While passing this park, I expected to hear the same thing, but for some reason, it was a bit different. I heard calls out to parents to “watch me”, and many parents obliged, however, I also heard many “hold on sweetie” as they were nose deep in their cell phones. Technology has taken over our daily lives. There are many instances where life passes us by because our eyes are glued to our tiny devices. As a way to minimize our daily technology intake, here are a few helpful tips:
1. Tech Free Hour
It’s easy to come home from a long day at work or school, plop on the couch and scroll your night away catching up on the latest social media happenings. Instead of taking out that phone, logging on to that computer or gaming all night, try switching it up and hold a real conversation with your loved ones. For one hour, whether it’s gathering in your living room, hanging out in the backyard or simply sitting around the dinner table, put your devices away and engage in “good ole-fashioned” communication. I once read an article about Steve Jobs’ family life. The author ironically described him as a “low-tech” parent, partly because at dinner time, he made a point to hold family discussions about books, history and a variety of other things without the “rings” “dings” or “beeps” of handheld technology. Here, I imagine they were able to secure uninterrupted quality time with one another. We should all take note of the late Apple innovator and become low-tech families, at least for an hour.
2. Phones in the Middle
I once was out to dinner with friends and in true millennial fashion, we were talking to each other while looking down at our devices. Whether checking a text or seeing the latest post on Instagram, we were completely distracted. I found it funny how we were super close to those we were virtually talking to, yet miles away from the very people sitting across from the table. As a way to combat that disconnect and to add a little friendly competition to the night, we decided to put our phones in the middle of the table with the first person to reach for it, emergency or not, having to pay the bill for the entire table. This sparked the awareness of our need to remain “connected” to the online world, yet “disconnected” to the world right in front of us.
3. There’s an App for That – Monitor your Phone Usage
Nowadays there’s literally an app for virtually any and everything you can imagine. From food delivery to pee break indicators for movies, there’s an app for it. So it’s no surprise that there are several apps to help monitor your tech usage. Whether it’s Moment, Breakfree, Hooked or the dozens others, pick one that will help you track your tech use and decide if it’s to your liking. More often than not, people are not aware of the amount of time they actually spend on their phones or other devices. People always say, “Oh, it’s just a quick text check,” or a “fast news brief.” But let’s be honest, it’s never just checking a text. It’s checking the text, followed by checking the email which leads to seeing the latest post on Facebook and the next thing you know you’re doing your 5th BuzzFeed quiz and 2 hours have passed you by. By downloading a tech monitoring app, you put in plain sight how much time actually spent using technology, and from there you can decide whether you need to change your habits or not.
Technology isn’t going anywhere nor is the fact that it is integrated into almost every aspect of our daily lives. There has to be a healthy balance of tech use and actual human interaction.
*Photo courtesy of www.flickr.com