We are distracted.
We live in an era of constant access, of always being on, always being connected.
But that connectivity has led to a disconnect. Ask yourself this: when was the last time you checked your phone? A few minutes ago? A couple seconds ago? Maybe you’re looking at it right now?
We are distracted.
Our mobile devices have evolved from handy “get in touch with me anywhere, anytime”, to checking notifications at stop lights, or ignoring the people we’re dining with, and generally not paying attention to our surroundings.
And we all do it. In a world where communication is easier than ever, we seem to have lost the ability to communicate. We no longer share moments with people; we share them with timelines and news feeds, rather than those who are present. Our gadgets own us; not the other way around.
Which is why we all need to relearn the value of unplugging. Not many of us schedule “power down” time—events centered around being disconnected except from those who are with us. It’s not easy to do, but once a part of your regular routine, you might be surprised at how much you’ll look forward to being “off” and how disconnecting every now and then leads to being more connected in general.
First, some stats. Checkout this infographic courtesy of CommonSense.org:
Do you see yourself or your family in any of these statistics? Further, this study reports that the average American checks their phone 46 times a day:
Although 46 checks per day is the average, that number varies depending on users’ age group. Those between the ages of 18 and 24 look at their phones most often, with an average of 74 checks per day. Americans in the 25-34 age bracket look at their devices 50 times per day, and those between 35 and 44 do so 35 times each day.
Perhaps nobody wants to admit, but there’s a clear addiction to technology in our society. Many of us are device dependent. Challenging ourselves to set aside time sans smartphones is just as important as eating right and exercising.
If this relates to you or your family, try working some of these things into your regular routine:
- Set aside at least one night a week with no screens, regardless of the size and age of your family, and regardless of work pressure.
- Make a rule of no devices at the dinner table. This includes dining out. Using your smartphone at a restaurant slows down overall service for everyone.
- This one is obvious but obviously needs to be said: don’t use your phone while driving. Even while sitting at a red light. Texting while driving is illegal in most states.
- At your next gathering, encourage your guests to only use their phones if absolutely necessary. A simple sign posted somewhere will remind people that they are there to socialize.
- Turn off devices at least an hour before bedtime. Our circadian rhythm is sensitive to blue light, meaning staring at your phone can affect your sleep.
These, of course, are just a few ways we can cut back the amount of time we spend staring at screens. It’s important we lead by example, too. Children are growing up with devices, which means they are much more likely to become addicted to them. If they see us constantly glued to our screens, the net result will be a generation of distracted kids
By unplugging more often, we not only become more aware of our surroundings and improve our relationships with friends and family, we also mitigate any potential health issues caused by overuse. And let’s not forget what Ferris Bueller taught us:
Perfectly said. Unplug and look up! Don’t miss life.