Saying, "I Love You" with Phone-Free Time

Saying I Love You with Phone-Free Time

Well, folks. We're in the middle of one heck-of-a-week. Yesterday was Fat Tuesday (Happy Mardi Gras!), today is Valentine's Day and Ash Wednesday and this entire week, the flame is lit, and those five rings are flying high for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games!

All of this means plenty of opportunities for #mardigras and #fattuesday to trend on Twitter, Valentine's Day to flood your Facebook feed and the Olympics to ignite your interest on Instagram (anyone else follow "golden girl" Chloe Kim's Instagram?).

Throughout all of this excitement, it is easy to login "real quick" to see what others might be doing for the heart-filled holiday and check out the latest medal count overseas, but if you pay close attention, it seems (at least for me), there are other subtle nudges trying to get noticed too.

Allow me to explain.

The other night, NBC unintentionally gave me a really simple reminder: Set aside some phone-free time.

Long story short(ish).

While watching the Olympics' opening ceremonies, Katie Couric made a mention that technology addiction is high in South Korea. Though the problem tends to revolve around video games there, I couldn't help but wonder how "sharenting" might fall under the umbrella of this addiction.

In case you haven't heard of this term, "sharenting" (or oversharenting) is a term used to describe the overuse of social media by parents to share content based on their children.

After a quick Google search, I landed on the article, "Parents of Young Children: Put Down Your Smartphones." In it, HealthyChildren.org and the American Academy of Pediatrics and American Speech-Language-Hearing Association note that  "Too much tech and too little talk could delay communication development."

Sound scary? Yes.

All bad news? Not necessarily.

The article goes on to identify three ways parents can enhance their child's communication skills, like sending and receiving nonverbal messages, as well as three seemingly manageable ways to ditch the phone, like creating regular tech-free times. It's a short, good and easy read so be sure to check out the full piece to get all the details.

Okay, so then.

Just the other day, while flipping through Hy-Vee's January issue of Balance magazine, a story, "Call Waiting" caught my eye (pg.57 of the print version) that talks about very much the same thing. Essentially, technology is amazing, has transformed our lives, yet it doesn't come without its drawbacks. The piece even went so far as to identify a new term, "nomophobia," which is a “fear of being without access to a working cell phone.”

For more interesting stats from the article click here and type “29” in the page number menu.

Balance noted that the average American spends 2 hours and 51 minutes on their phone per day. The majority of that spent on the top five social media platforms (YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter).

Sounds like a lot, right? Think that doesn't apply to you?

Don't be so sure.

If you're interested, you can allow the app, Moment be the judge ...

Moment is self-described as, "an iOS app that automatically tracks how much you use your iPhone and iPad each day. If you’re using your phone too much, you can set daily limits on yourself and be notified when you go over. You can even force yourself off your device when you’re over your limit." While there is a paid/premium version of the app you can purchase, the free version comes equipped with insights (screen time, waking life, pickups) and a coach!?

You can even go so far as to get Moment Family, "which can manage your family’s screen time from your own phone and set up time for your entire family to be screen-free using family dinner time."

I downloaded Moment a few months ago and it absolutely made me start to think about phone usage. I learned my usage is below the average, sure, but I'd still like to see it shrink some more.

Think you want to try it? You're in good company seeing as over 4 million people have downloaded Moment

But, seriously, it's tough to go totally tech-free.

Lately, and much thanks to these little reminders, I've been trying to consciously put the phone down. That said, my phone is my lifeline to anyone who may need to get ahold of me in case of an emergency night or day (husband, family, friends, etc.).

As a result, and in an effort not to be on my phone while caring for the kids and spending time with my husband, I invested in an Apple Watch. Yes, it gives me a chance to see what calls or texts might be coming in while my iPhone sits safely in the other room, but it also allows me to set up a pre-written text back that you can personalize such as, "Hey! Doing something with the kiddos. Get right back to you." Therefore, with one touch of the watch's screen, I can notify the person I saw their call/text and will respond soon (during naps, dedicated technology time, etc.). It's not perfect because I'm not totally logged off, but it's a good alternative, at least for my situation and life right now.

So, Happy Valentine's Day, a nod to those observing Ash Wednesday, and let's go, Team USA!

With so many ways to say, "I love you," this Valentine's Day, may we all say it with a little phone-free time too.