Are you addicted to technology? I think I am. In fact, I know I am.
The sad part? I’m a child of the 1970’s.
I didn’t grow up with much of high-tech anything, except for a clock radio where the digits flipped over in slow motion. We had television, but I spent most days climbing trees and riding bikes with friends. I’m not trying to say that I walked uphill both ways in the snow, (there’s no snow or hills in the suburbs outside Houston). But if you wanted to talk to your friend on the phone, you had to wait until your brother, mother, and father were off the line and yank the phone cord because nothing was cordless.
If you wanted to watch something on TV, you had to see it that day. That very hour. There were no VCRs until the middle of the 1980’s. My brother and I will never forgive my parents for taking us on a family vacation the same week King Kong made its TV premiere. (Of all the motels, we had to stay in the one without a television.) I digress.
Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and Dorothy Hamel hairstyle aside, I’m glad I grew up when I did. I didn’t have an opportunity to become addicted to anything more techie than my best friend’s Speak and Spell. That is until geniuses started inventing fax machines and flip phones and other things that made everything easier and more convenient.
So, thanks to these inventions, we could say our lives became easier. Right?
Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe, when we really think about it, technology has made things more complicated.
If you work from home like I do, it doesn’t take long before you become addicted to your iPhone or other high-tech devices. There’s nothing wrong with taking advantage of technology that’s available to help make your job and daily life easier. (I’m still waiting for a machine that helps fold and put away laundry.) But, as it is with most things in life, it’s all good until we start over-doing it. When it starts affecting your family life, it’s time to put your iPhone down and smell the coffee.
How do you know if you’re getting carried away?
• You bring your iPhone into the bathroom so you can Snapchat, DM or text in peace.
• You interact with friends through text rather than picking up the phone.
• You interact with some friends online more often than in person.
• You rattle off “that’s great, honey” and “good job, sweetie” responses to your kids while buried in your laptop or iPhone.
• Your child pleads with you to get off your iPhone.
• You text during a phone conversation and lose your train of thought. (And the person on the other line notices.)
• You weave #hashtags into everyday conversation.
• You excuse yourself from family activities to sneak off and tweet, e-mail, or text in the other room.
• You text your husband when it’s time for dinner. And he’s already home.
• Your spouse pleads with you to put your iPhone away after the kids go to bed.
• You bring your iPhone with you on vacation, meaning you never really go on vacation.
You may not think you’re an addict, but when this behavior starts becoming the norm and your kids start to notice, you know you need to take a good look in the mirror.
Some tips to help reduce the tech addiction guilt:
1. Mini-goals. If your job depends on you to be tuned-in to technology around the clock, dedicate at least 30 minutes a day to going totally off-line. Gradually increase it by an additional five minutes every day. Make it a goal to go two hours every day without being online. You’ll be surprised at how it makes you feel!
2. Face down. My dear friend recently decided to go on a Facebook diet. She didn’t close her account but decided to stop posting. And guess what? She doesn’t miss it! Can you imagine how much time you’d save by omitting at least one social media outlet from your daily life? It’s worth a try.
3. Use an oven timer. Time yourself while you’re online. Find out how many hours you spend online and see how it makes you feel.
4. Don’t cheat. Take a break from your digital devices at least once a week. No cheating.
5. Nap-time ritual. If your kids are little enough to nap, try to work online when they are napping.
6. Block off-line time. Try to dedicate off-line time to your kids. Set a block of time every day to turn off your iPhone and step away from your laptop. Even shooting hoops for 15 minutes with your kids accounts for something.
7. Save the selfie. Walk the dog, go to the park, grab a cocoa with the kids at a local diner. Take a “yoga with baby” class. Do something off-line that’s enjoyable with your sweeties. And resist the urge to document it on social media. (I have a feeling the world will still go on without another selfie from me!)
8. Mother’s Helper. If you are too stressed to break from your digitally-oriented job, hire a babysitter or a mother’s helper to help watch your kids while you meet your deadlines.
9. Tune-out time. Turn off your devices between set blocks of time such as 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. This will allow you to accomplish your online duties during specific hours so you can spend quality “off-line” time with your family.
10. Leave it. The next time you’re out with the kids, try leaving your phone in the car. You might be pleasantly surprised. You can always answer a text or voicemail when you get back!
11. The same rules apply. As a general rule, you know it’s rude to text during a meeting. Apply these same rules of thumb when working from home. Don’t text during playtime with your little ones. I have a feeling they will appreciate it.
I’ll try to practice what I preach too. And I wish you the best on your journey to becoming less addicted to technology. xo