Do you feel you get enough quality time with your family? If you are anything like our family, it’s becoming a real struggle. We just feel so busy all of the time and because of this it can be hard to just stop and enjoy a moment or two without any distractions. What makes it even more challenging is even when we get the opportunity to have true quality time, we often have our biggest potential distraction, our smartphone, with us, making it almost impossible to properly engage in the moment.
Smartphones, tablets & laptops are seldom more than a few feet away from us at any given time. And when they beep, buzz or vibrate, most of us feel compelled to check what has just happened in our digital world. It’s natural right? As humans, we don’t want to miss out on anything important do we! Sadly we often do miss out on something important because when attend to our digital world, we turn our back on our real world, and it’s our relationships that ultimately suffer.
Ask yourself this question: Have you ever taken stock of how much quality time is taken up by your digital devices? I recently received a good dressing down from my eldest daughter when I was reading something on my iPhone. She’s piped up with ”Dad, why are you always on your phone?”. “Hmmm why am I always on my phone” I thought. To be honest I really didn’t have a good answer for her.
It got me to thinking about some other examples I have witnessed and have been guilty of myself – do any of these sound familiar to you?
- You are at dinner with friends and your phone rings. You excuse yourself and you take the call. When you return your dinner has been served, is stone cold and everyone else is done eating.
- You are at the park watching your kids on the playground and your phone gets a text message. You immediately read it and while responding your child comes up and excitedly says “Dad, did you see what I just did on the swing?”
- You are at a family get together, you are half listening to small talk while scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed. Your youngest child is calling out for you to help them, but it takes another adult to point it out to you
If you are honest with yourself, these sound familiar and have probably prompted you to think of other instances where technology has lured you away from your real world. It beckons the question, what are you missing in your real world when you make sure you are not missing something in your digital world? The answer is probably “lots” and if this is you, then you are the perfect candidate for a digital detox.
A digital detox is very simple to do; deliberately put your phone somewhere it’s difficult to access and completely engage in something in your real world i.e. a family and/or friends activity. Now I’m no expert at doing this and still get caught by the lure of my digital world, but I have started doing it more regularly and it’s refreshing. Now I am not recommending you give up your phone for a week, month or year, I’d definitely suggest to start small because it’s not easy to do at first.
Why not try it for an hour or two to start? The weekend is a fantastic place to start. Weekend’s are a great for spending time with family and for engaging in some good old fashioned “real world” fun. Play a board game, watch a movie, take a walk or go for a bike ride in the park. Why not try doing some or all of these activities without thinking about your phone. Even if you take it with you for emergency purposes, put it in silent and stuff in a bag or somewhere you won’t be tempted by it.
You can do this! It’s not easy at first, but it’s so worth it. Resist the pull of social networks, switch yourself out of work mode and temporarily ignore people that aren’t there with you to ensure you can really engage with the people that are with you. Start small and work your way up from there. Good luck and remember your kids, family and friends will love you for it. Do you have any tips, tricks or hints to become temporarily phone free? Be sure to put them in a comment below.