It's Time to Put My Phone in the Other Room
A recent study shows that our smart phones are actually making us dumber. Apparently, by just having them near us, we are “draining our brains.” Our minds know that our phones hold a wealth of information and distractions and we are unable to be fully present when they are near. Subconsciously we wonder what’s happening within all the apps our phones contain. I have experienced this double-mindedness in both my work and relationships and I want to reign it in.
This is the primary lesson impressed upon me over the last two weeks. I’ve just returned home from a weeklong family vacation followed by a week in Peru where I spoke at a retreat for women who are missionaries there. During vacation I endeavored to unplug from all media, which you can read about in my last blog post. Additionally, the week after vacation provided a similar fasting opportunity, as I was in locations with very limited internet access.
After experiencing the benefits of an extended time offline, I have resolved to make one major change in my connectivity habits: I am going to leave my phone in another room as often as possible.
I don’t know about you, but the more I am online, the more I want to be online. Or, the more I instantly respond to emails and texts, the more driven I feel to instantly respond to every message. It’s like eating sugar—the more I eat, the more my brain demands. By fasting from all media, social media, and (almost all) texting for over a week, I was able to break the addiction. The less I ingested, the less I wanted.
In order to reduce connectivity gluttony and in order to be a good steward of the people, gifts, skills, and hours in a day that God has given me, I need to get some distance between my phone and me.
To pursue single-mindedness I am now planning to leave my phone in a separate room during the following times:
- When I’m reading my Bible
- When I’m reading a book
- When I’m homeschooling
- When I’m writing
- When I’m sharing a meal with my family
- When we have guests
- When we’re playing a game or having other miscellaneous family time
- When I’m sleeping
- When it’s Sunday
My phone should serve me, not the other way around. When I need it for a phone call, to intentionally text a friend, to check my calendar, to listen to a podcast, or to find a recipe, it’s a great tool. Most other times, however, it’s using me.
According to A Practical Guide to Culture, kids these days long for their parents’ full attention and eye contact. I confess to mumbling “mmhmm” to my girls while focusing on my phone. This is perhaps the greatest violence I’ve allowed my smart phone to do to me and my family.
Unplugging for a week convinced me that one of the best ways I can steward all areas of my life in this day and age is to put my phone down and leave it in another room. What a simple step. How silly I feel that I’ve allowed my phone to use me. It’s time to make this change.