Cell phones are great tools, when used properly. So are hammers. But put a hammer in the hands of someone without the proper knowledge or intent and the results could be devastating. Think: Vandal with a hammer. Not good.
Cell phones provide easy access for communication, allow you to keep track of appointments, make lists and access a plethora of information. But it’s easy to slip into sloppy habits with your phone…allowing calls, texts, videos and social media to interrupt your productivity and use up your time. I’m particularly alarmed as I see cell phones replacing real live interaction that should be taking place with people in the physical presence of each other. Especially husbands and wives, parents and children, and siblings. Cell phones should not replace relationships or good manners.
It’s good to evaluate your phone usage from time to time to see if it is making you more productive or stealing precious time that, in your heart of hearts, you know you would prefer to use in another way.
You may want to set a specific time of day for responding to calls and text messages that don’t need immediate answers. The same goes for interacting with social media. Consider setting a specific time of day, and time period, for interaction with social media. The time shouldn’t interfere with your responsibilities or the relationships you want to nurture. It’s amazing how setting time limits will provide you with greater incentive to be selective regarding whom you choose to interact.
If you recognize that modification needs to be made with how much time your children spend with phones and other such devices, it’s up to you to make the needed changes. Change isn’t easy for anyone, and since your children may not be able to reason through the why behind the changes, your approach to the subject is of the utmost importance. Be positive and use meaningful replacement activities.
Depending on the age of your child, you may be able to discuss some reasoning and share your concerns. An older child will appreciate you sharing with them that you want to make some changes in the home as to how phones are used. If you feel you have over-used your phone, an acknowledgement and apology may be in order, followed by a clear plan for how the issue will be remedied. Maybe there is a special place where all phones will be stored while not in use.
Make sure there are meaningful replacement activities…not only for your children, but also for yourself. Keep a list handy of activities that can be done instead of using the phone, so you don’t fall into the trap of looking for some quick but distracting input. Hopefully this list will include things you’ve wanted to do but thought you didn’t have time for like making nutritious meals, reading books and maybe even starting a hobby.
You may want to include others in some of your replacement activities…especially your family. There are many things you and your children can learn to enjoy doing together: reading stories, playing games, interacting at the grocery store, having discussions and singing.
By being mindful of your input and productivity, you’ll encourage creative play and thinking…both for yourself and your children. The goal for making these changes is to be more present and interactive…to have greater happiness and enjoy rewarding relationships with those you love most. Those are things that a mobile phone just can’t deliver on its own.