I was a busy mother of three, with a five month old baby, a preschooler, and a second grader. And, my smartphone had taken over my life.
I know that sounds overly dramatic. But, if you have a smartphone in your hand right now, you probably know what I mean. All day long, the dinging. The tiny flashing light that said that someone was communicating. The constant draw to check Facebook, to look at my email, to read the news, to look up trivia.
While waiting at the doctor’s office with my children, instead of talking to them, I was glued to my phone. While waiting in the carpool line, while the baby babbled and giggled, while my four year old asked questions and told stories, I only half listened. And, I didn’t look at them when I was half listening. Whatever was on my phone seemed important, seemed immediate. It seemed like it needed my attention.
Meanwhile, my precious four year old was trying to get between the screen and me, just so that he could be seen.
I remember being tired at the end of the day. I was technology weary. I felt battered by the pull of the big, important world that constantly streamed into my day through my phone. And, I knew that I was only there for my children in body, not in spirit. I was miserable.
I wondered if I could do it. I questioned whether I could live without my apps and my immediate answers to burning questions and my constant connection to the outside world. But, I did it anyway. I went to the phone store and got myself a little cell phone with a slide out keypad for texting.
And, I unplugged from the world.
I started looking my children in the eyes when they talked. I started paying more attention to their quirky little expressions. During waiting times, we talked. I asked lots of questions and listened to their answers. I used my hands to hug, pat, and squeeze them while we sat together, instead of using them to navigate the internet.
I miss my GPS. I really do. I’m directionally challenged. But, in every other single way, life is so much better without that brilliant little piece of technology in my pocket, in my hands, on my mind.
I’m not saying that you aren’t a good parent if you have a smartphone. Chances are you have much better self-control than I did. You probably put the phone down when your child talks to you. You probably resist the urge to pull it out during every free moment. You probably aren’t miserable by the end of the day.
But, if you know in your heart that your phone is keeping you from being the kind of parent you want to be, if you feel like I did, that your smartphone is ruling your life, I just want you to know that you can survive without it. Even more, in my experience, you can be much happier without carrying all the knowledge and nonsense of the world in your back pocket.
I used to think that everyone would think I’m old and out of touch if I didn’t have a smartphone. And, maybe they do. But, the most common reaction that I get is envy. People get tired of living as slaves to their smartphones, but they’re afraid they can’t make it without one.
Well, take it from me. You can. And, if you identify with anything I’ve written here, you should. Life is short. You don’t have to get pushed around all day by a tiny computer in your pocket. Consider it a chance to be alternative. When I am digging paper maps out of my glovebox on vacation, I have to smile a little smugly to myself. It may not be the easiest way, but it is certainly the best way for me and these fleeting days with my babies.
I’m no longer a slave to amazing technology. I use technology as I see fit now, in my home, on my computer, and usually after my kids are in bed. Yes, I still use technology. I just don’t let it use me anymore.
Love this! Absolutely love this…
Thanks so much, Courtney!
The author is onto something important. I need a smart phone for work, but turn it off frequently when not needed. I find it rude of people to be glued to their smartphones in company. If the thing “dings” they’ll answer it immediately even though they, or you, are saying something important. As for young people walking through the park with headsets on – I see zombies.
People hardly say hello on street corners anymore. Smartphones are an advance in technology, but part of the demise of polite society.
I LOVE THIS! I wish others in my family would follow suit.
Hopeforheather, my husband actually gave his up before I did. It’s pretty great to live the non-smartphone life! Thanks so much for reading and for this comment!
I totally hear you! I was struggling with the technology-weariness as well. I made a cold turkey decision about 1.5 weeks ago to take Facebook and Instagram off my phone, and to use our parental controls software to block them on my computer (only from me). I got on my husband’s computer to check a message a few days ago and realized — Facebook kept going on fine without me, and my life hadn’t changed at all — in fact, my quality of life was hugely improved and I got so much accomplished! I know plenty of people who do smartphones/Facebook well, but clearly I am not one of those people 🙂
Chelsey, I love this idea! I am not one of those people either, but I know they do exist!
I’m sharing this, if you don’t mind! I don’t think we can hear this enough. Thanks!
Of course I don’t mind, Madblog! Thanks so much!
What a wonderful idea!! While I do not use my smartphone like this, I did use my Kindle in this manner because it had internet access. And…my poor husband thought I was married to it because I was so glued to it. Earlier this year I lost it and do not have any regrets that I did. My husband has mentioned about getting another one and I have come to not miss it and would rather give him my attention. Thank you Lord for letting me lose my Kindle!
I love this, PammieK! One of those disguised blessings. 🙂
I got off Facebook about 2 years ago, and felt as if I unplugged-My phone has texting capability, but is really dumb, and gets dropped alot which doesn’t appear to hurt it. In unplugging from Facebook, I discovered a lot of blogs, and places to visit that were edifying to me, and bookmarked them. My husband is connected all the time except when he’s sleeping. It can be an addiction- FB surely was. Anyway, a timely article.
You’re right, Martha, there are all kinds of ways that technology (and pretty much anything else in the world) can cause us to lose sight of our priorities. Thanks for this!
Great idea and the Lord is wonderful to have shown you the truth. I highly recommend a GPS you can leave in the car. They are wonderful and can’t invade other parts of your life.
Thank you, Mary! We actually did borrow a GPS for our last vacation. Very handy! 🙂
Oh dear– boy, did I need to hear this. Thanks (even if it hurts a little :).
I’m sorry, Courtney! I know exactly how that feels.
I’ve never gotten a smartphone. I know that I would be totally addicted to it. It’s easier to never get into the habit than to quit. It also costs a bit extra to have a data plan.
Amen!. I don’t have one and own an ancient cell phone. I don’t want to be constantly connected to the internet. I think it’s sad when you see a group of young people at a party and all have the heads stuck in their smart phone. It’s not a pretty sight.
Thanks for writing this! Needed to hear it!
Thank you, Beth!
I’ve been debating doing this very thing! On my old blog I wrote a poem about wanting to give up my technology, but never went through with it. 🙁
It’s really not as hard as it sounds! And, really, if you try it and you hate it, you can always go back. 🙂
Having just recently given Facebook/Instagram up, I can say the first couple of days I suffered from pretty intense withdrawal. I would wake up, check my email, and then ended up accidentally selecting other apps on my phone because they were in the same place as FB/IG. Sad! Haha. Once I finally remembered they weren’t on my phone, the twitchiness went away. 🙂 Also, I have been communicating directly with certain people more often… instead of posting a picture on Facebook of my kids, I will text it to my mom or sister and have a conversation with them. So much more meaningful!
I love that, Chelsey!
Oh, I love this! I have battled with the smartphone thing for a LONG time. I KNOW I could do it, I just honestly, don’t know that I want to bad enough….and that is really just sad :(.
Misty, I understand! You COULD totally do it. You could always try for a few months and then switch back if you hate it.
‘Brilliant’ I sold my smartphone last summer and moved to a basic samsung bar phone. I lasted 4 months and then switched back to a smartphone and hated it. I have reverted back to a basic phone and will definitely stick with it. The positives of a conventional basic mobile are, only require charging now and then, always have a signal, don’t beep unless its important, if you damage it its cheep to replace. I do carry a compact camera with me which still out preforms any smart phone. Everybody has the ability to move away from the trend and be individual.
Simon B, it’s amazing how much I don’t miss the constant connection with the world. Glad it’s working out well for you!!