How My Tech Addiction Kept Me From Enjoying the Present

By Nikki M

I'm addicted to my smartphone. I've become one of those people — constantly hunched over, absorbed in a glaring screen, bearing the telltale "text neck" ailment of our generation.

Don't get me wrong, technology has its pros. I can send work emails and write on-the-go. I love having a lightweight camera with me at all times (goodbye 500 lb. dSLR), ready to capture special moments. Having zero sense of direction, it's awesome to know that my homie, the GPS, is literally homing in on me, preventing me from getting lost a block away. I absolutely love being able to connect with family and friends from all over the world.

The best part, playing god to my kids:

Daughter: "Mama, why do we float on water if there's gravity?"
Me: "Let me tell you why." *Googles frantically*
Me (without bothering to paraphrase): "As long as the water your body displaces weighs more than you do, you float. You weigh less than the water you're in, because your lungs are full of air, like a balloon, and like a balloon, the air in your lungs lifts you to the surface naturally."
Daughter: "Oh, okay!" *swims away*

Unfortunately, there are downsides. You'd think that having a piece of tech that makes things more efficient would up my productivity level by 200%. Wrong. I spend most of my day reading junk, scrolling though nonsense, and "liking" a bunch of weird memes.

I'm so hooked on a gadget that I forget to live in the moment. Instead of spending quality time with my family over brunch, I'm more preoccupied with snapping photos of my food, reading about the ten best orange lipsticks, or cursing about how my supposed "unlimited 4G" is down to 2G.

It's making me sick too. On road trips, my eyes would be glued to the screen rather than soaking up beautiful views. Hello migraines and nausea! My 3:00 AM routine of going down the Instagram rabbit hole has definitely done a number on me. Every day I'm like a walking zombie, irritable as hell, pimples galore.

The last straw was realizing that my addiction is turning me into a horrible mother. You know things are bad when your two-year-old consistently tells you to “put your phone away,” and your five-year-old chimes in and says “Please do not bring that to bed. Your eyes are turning red.”

I'm in need of a mini-life overhaul — a smartphone detox. Here are a few changes I've started to make:

  • Out of sight, out of mind. I keep my phone on silent, in my bag/in a different room when I'm with the kids. 

  • I turned off all my push notifications. Do I really need to be alerted when my my favorite Scandinavian store sends me a newsletter at 3 AM? Or when I get 2 new likes on Instagram? Or every time a friend likes a dog video on Facebook? (I really don't know why I get alerts for that.)

  • I've set an alarm every night at 7 PM to turn off my laptop and put my phone away. That way I can spend more time with the family, catch up on chores, and unwind before bed. 

  • Speaking of bedtime, nighttime scrolling is the hardest habit for me to break. As much as possible, I try to read a book or watch a really boring documentary instead. Lulls me right to sleep. 

Since I've made these changes, my iPhone's Screen Time app shows that I'm on my phone less and less each week... Baby steps!

Will you join me in my quest of (occasionally) going off the grid? How to you reduce your screen time?  Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below.

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Tags : motherhood   technology   addiction   parenting   

Afshin Behnia
Let's not forget how bad this is for the little ones, too. Our girl Luna amazed me as to how sensitive she was to my attention (or lack thereof) as early as when she was 4 months old. Now at 1.5 years old, if I'm with her and I look at my phone for more than a second, sometimes she'll outright grab it and put it away because she wants my undivided attention.