Hello. My name is Lyndsey, and I am a phoneaholic.
I am. I’ll admit to having a love affair with my Smartphone. It’s my constant companion, and if I happen to forget it at home when I leave my house, I simply feel naked. Did you know that there’s even a name for this? According to a CNN article I recently read, “Nomophobia (NO MObile PHOne phoBIA) is a 21st-century term for the fear of not being able to use your cell phone or other smart devices.” If this term resonates with you, you can even take a quiz to find out if you are truly addicted (I’m afraid to take it!). Find the article and quiz here.
I love my Smartphone, and I love what it can do for me. Need directions? Nearest rest stop? Instant communication? Social outlet? Entertainment for a child in a waiting room? Save money on luggage check-in at the airport? Check the stats or schedule for a part-time job? Deals at your favorite store? There’s an app for that and everything under the sun.
YES, it is important. It is a lifeline, a thing I cling to throughout the day. I’m either holding it or stuffing it in my back pocket. Mostly, I’m holding it like an accessory.
They call it a Smartphone, but it isn’t always smart. For example, when it causes you to miss out on a moment and to not be present, it’s dumb.
One evening I was sitting at the dining room table, and my daughter was asking about a homework question, and I didn’t hear what she said. Honestly, I was probably scrolling through social media or reading an email.
“Mom, get off your phone, ” she said. Sometimes she is more mature than I give her credit for because she points out things that I am oftentimes blind to during the day (“Mom, you’re almost on empty. Get gas today, okay?” #ninegoingonnineteen)
When she told me to put the phone down, I felt ashamed at that moment that I was sitting right there in front of my child, yet I didn’t hear her. To my daughter at that moment, my phone, an electronic device, was more important than her. One day, those roles will be reversed, and I’ll be telling her to put the phone down and listen to me. I won’t have anyone to blame but myself if I don’t start modeling better behavior. According to this report here on ABC, half of all teens have admitted to being addicted to their phones, even showing symptoms of withdrawal. Wow! Just last week I passed a middle school student looking down at his phone while riding his bicycle home from school.
It’s not just my daughter. My husband has made it clear on many occasions that my phone was more important than spending time with him. The scene has typically been the two of us sitting on the couch, catching up on a recorded show, while I multitask by skimming my upcoming lesson plan on my phone.
So enough is enough. I’m cutting the phone cord (sometimes) because my loved ones need to know that I love them more than I love my phone. Nothing in this world should compete for human interaction.
In order to “cut the cord,” I’ve come up with some guidelines:
There is a time and a place for using my Smartphone. During the day there is a huge stretch of time when my children are at school and my husband is at work. This should be phone time. I’m going to leave my phone in my van after school pick-up, at least so that we can get through the dreaded homework hour (or two). Yes, there might be a need for it, but I can always turn to my desktop computer or even Alexa if common core math presents a challenge. After my kids go to bed at night would also be a good time to chuck the phone into a nightstand drawer or better yet, plug it into an outlet out of sight. That should be time for my husband and me to reconnect.
In the Car
The phone in the car is oftentimes a bad idea. I once wrote a blog post for a sister site addressing the dangers of driving distracted. You can check out that post here. When I am driving around town, my focus should be on getting everybody from point A to point B unharmed and alive. It’s so tempting to glance at the phone if a notification goes off, and before you know it you’re glued at a stoplight. I’m pledging to hand my phone to a kid in the back or place it far from my reach (glove compartment, per my own post from years ago!) so that it is impossible to have. The e-mail can wait. The voxer message from my friend can wait. Also, my children are restrained for once during the day. This is a good time for conversation.
Too many times I show up at an extra-curricular activity to watch my child play a sport or take a lesson, and I find myself reaching for my phone while sitting in the bleachers. Before I know it, I’ve missed my youngest flipping on the uneven bars or my oldest shooting a jump shot. These moments are so important, and I don’t want to regret missing them.
The Smartphone is changing the world in which we live, but it doesn’t have to change who we are and how we interact with the ones we love the most. Life is too precious and beautiful to replace it with an app here or there. I’m ready to put the phone down so that I can be there for my family and for my friends.