January 16, 2014

Keeping it Real

As you may have read, my resolution for this year, and for all the years to follow is to become less attached to my phone and my computer, primarily when in the presence of the Mini Fashionista. I want her to grow up knowing what it's like to entertain herself without watching a video, checking Facebook or Instagram, or playing Words with Friends or Candy Crush. I'm guilty of using all of the above to fill any free moment I have throughout my day.

Let's be honest, technology is an addiction. In fact, if there isn't one already, there should be a support group for technology addicts.  The meeting might start something like this, "Hi, my name is Regan. I have an addiction to social media. It's been less than a minute since my last interaction, and I'm already going through withdrawals."

Here are some quick statistics gathered by Real Simple and Huffington Post in a joint poll of 3,583 women on how smarthphones and social media affect their lives. (article here)

This article, Psychology of Social Media, breaks down these addictions. Here are the major points.

- We are programed as "hunter-gatherers". Digital devices activate those instincts and give us an emotional buzz.
- Technology is seductive, not just addictive, and our brains are uniquely vulnerable to it.
- Our brains crave constant stimulation, and technology gives that to us.
- We have become so attached to our mobile devices that we cannot be alone with our thoughts. If we don't teach our kids that it is okay to "be alone" then they will never know what it is like to feel lonely.
- Cyber-connections don't exercise the same emotional competencies that you do in person.
- There is a whole generation that isn't learning how to have a conversation and because of that they will NOT be prepared to handle real life challenges.
- We are using technology in ways that cause us to take attention off of each other, despite its ability to connect us.

So what does all of that mean for me? How do I break free from my addiction? How can we all break free? Here are some ideas that I recently implemented in my daily life.

1. Set time limits and stick to them. I set timers for the Mini Fashionista all the time. Maybe I need to set them for myself too.

2. Make Rules. Decide times that you will stay off of social media, and stick to it. Or in reverse, decide the times that you WILL allow yourself to use it (i.e. only at night once the Mini Fashionista is asleep).

3. Take a break. Sign off for a day, maybe a weekend.

4. Check with a purpose, don't just peruse aimlessly….I do this far too often.

5. Post with a purpose. Less is more. (No one wants to know that your kid vomited on you, no one)

6. Respond off-line. If it's someone's birthday, instead of writing on facebook, pick up the phone and call them, send them an email or at least send a text.

7. Disable all alerts so you are not constantly reminded of "what is waiting for you."

8. Everytime you reach for your phone, ask yourself "Is there a good reason for this?" If not, put it back down. This one has actually been my best deterrent so far. More often than not, I put the phone down, or I never pick it up in the first place.

9. Take the tempting apps off your phone, i.e. Facebook! Then the only time you can look at them is on your computer during your "allowed" times.

This is no doubt going to be a slow change for me, but I think small changes will ultimately bring big victories. As Doctor Leo Marvin (played by Richard Dreyfuss) said in the movie "What About Bob"…."baby steps, baby steps."

Who is with me?

1 comment:

  1. Me! I love the IDEA of putting the phone/computer/iPad for the day, but have to actually do it. Thanks for these stats... next step is putting the phone down and leaving it there. You're right.. baby steps, baby steps...