Adult Screen Time: Breaking Up with My Phone

In this post I talked about how I begin each month, and one of the things I mentioned was that I set myself goals. I try to find ways to improve myself and my life, and then I make plans as to how to go about it.

This month, I decided to deal with my phone.

I have long felt dissatisfied with the relationship I have had with it. I have determined that I have been on it too much, I have excessively needed to have it near me, and I have had strong separation anxiety whenever I am without it.

It doesn’t take much to see that this state of affairs is not healthy.

But before I could resolve how I was going to change things, it was necessary that I analyze why my actions were such as they were. I tried to take a close and honest look as to why I was so attached to my phone, and I came up with the following reasons:

  • I turned to my phone to provide some interest when I was bored.
  • My phone was my comfort when I was lonely.
  • I was afraid I was going to miss something important.
  • I was looking for something to get excited about.

Not good. Basically, I have been using my phone as a pacifier, which is anything but ideal.

Having figured out these reasons, I needed to decide what steps I would take to end this unhealthy relationship. Obviously, this was going to take work, and if I was really going to resolve the problem, I would need to attack it all the way down at its roots.

The initial thing that I have resolved to do, however, is to institute some good habits which will correct the behaviors. In the first place, my phone is now a stationary item. It lives on my desk or on the shelf of the pass-through between my kitchen and living room, and it doesn’t come with me when I go to other parts of the house or even other parts of the room (yes, it was that bad).

In the second place, I can only check my phone when an alert sounds or at certain times during the day. This is a baby step. Ideally, I would turn off all the alerts except text messages, but I am not ready to go to that extent yet. Also, I haven’t yet implemented any rules for the evening because daytime has always been the time of the biggest struggle.

Third, I can use it to text with friends and family, but the phone still has to stay in its assigned spot. I have to go there to do the texting, and I can’t take the phone with me while I wait for the reply.

These steps will, I think, help me to get out of the habit of living with my phone attached to me, as it were, but I don’t think they will be enough actually to solve the problem. After all, they don’t in themselves get to the roots of the issue, namely, the loneliness and the boredom. They only deal with the behaviors.

However, one thing I have noticed is that by detaching myself physically from my phone, I am starting to detach myself emotionally. I am able to be more present to my son and to what is going on around me. I am starting to look elsewhere for things to occupy my time and interest. I am willing to wait for the excitement of finding out what other people have to say and what my phone has to tell me.

So I think I am going to limit my efforts this month to the three things above. Maybe they will clear the air sufficiently to let me see my way to chopping at the basic issues and resolving this problem thoroughly. In the meantime, I think I will gain a good deal from the new habits.

What about you? Do you suffer from the same troubles with your phone or tablet or computer? Do you need to consider a breakup? Maybe we can do this together and try to create healthy relationships between us and our devices.

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