I bought my first cell phone back in 1999 I think. It was a Sony Ericsson. It was blue and black and had a stubbish aerial. I thought I was the bees knees, the fly’s thighs and the bugs ankles when it rang in public…lol. Of course, all it could do was make and receive calls and text messages. It didn’t even have the game “snake” on it. It was mine though and I loved it. My internet fixation was fed through a dial-up connection and a desktop computer. The brand of the computer escapes me but I do remember that it was a white one. I lived alone at the time which made it easy for me to spend hours on it some nights. Everything was so slow back then that I did not always have the patience to wait for the computer to start up or for pages to open up. This resulted in me not accessing the net every night. The internet turned out to be the perfect place to feed my insatiable curiosity about “stuff” and “things” :-). It opened up a whole new world for me. At this point, though, the internet and my phone had their place in my life. I still spent a lot of my time reading books and magazines. I loved going to the mall and shopping with my friend or even just window shopping sometimes. I enjoyed flea markets and visiting friends.
Fast forward to 2017. I now have an iPhone…a mini computer in the palm of my hand. I have instant access to personal and work documents and mails as well as everything the internet has to offer, and I can still connect with my loved ones via calls or messaging. Sharing experiences in real time with friends and family around the world is not only possible but it as easy as pie. Life has definitely changed dramatically and a lot of things have become easier to accomplish which is fantastic! The problem is that all these apps on my phone can serve as a distraction from the more meaningful experiences in life like connecting with my son, spending quality time with my boyfriend (he is probably worse than me when it comes to the amount of time spent glued to that phone’s screen though). I also don’t read as much as I used to or even get to the mall that often. As for visiting friends…well, I can’t blame my phone solely for not visiting them anymore. They have lives too, and we all have different priorities now, although our smartphones do help us remain connected on some level.
I used to tell myself that my games helped me switch off from the world. Candy crush only allows me 5 lives at a time, thereby imposing a limit on the amount of time I can spend playing (Thank goodness!) and I have to wait for my opponents play their turns on scrabble so my interaction is limited but is it all really necessary? I can live without Candy crush, but I do enjoy my scrabble games and the people I play against. It is so easy to get lost on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I don’t actually spend that much time scrolling through feeds believe it or not. What does happen is that I”ll see a link to a blog or an article that interests me and then off I go. That article will have links to other articles and websites and I will just keep on clicking until, next thing I know, an hour has passed and my watch is telling me that I need to stand :-). The truth of the matter is that I was probably procrasting about something that actually needed to be done like washing the dishes or working on an assignment or worse, studying for exams, and instead of postponing it for a “few more minutes” I have now lost an entire hour to a distraction that probably wasn’t adding any value to my life.
Time is precious. Before I became a mom, I was not as acutely aware of this as I am now. “Me time” especially is more precious than gold when you are a mom. When you have it, you also become more aware of the concepts of “priorities” and “opportunity costs”. I find myself using my smartphone as an excuse or tool to numb myself to these facts of life and slip into a cocoon surrounded by the internet and the illusion that I am “educating myself” in some way or another when I should really be doing something productive towards my goals especially. So yes, in this instance the smartphone is definitely my foe. It does have it’s place, however. The camera on my phone is a lifesaver! I use it to take pics of everything, including my shopping lists, recipes I see, interesting information I come across in a store or on the street. Google/Safari helps me find quick answers to everyday stuff that I might suddenly need to know. I do learn random stuff through Facebook and the like and I enjoy keeping up to date with friends and family through them as well as keeping abreast of local and world events. I have discovered however that deleting the apps and accessing them on the net only results in less frequent visits because access is no longer at my fingertips and, because I don’t see the icons all the time, they are no longer top of mind . It also means I have more space on my phone and use less data. (yay!).
I guess at the end of the day, the technological marvel that is the smartphone, is definitely a good thing, a friend, but it can easily be a foe if you let it. You just have to remember who holds the power (and yes it’s you and not the phone…).
Do you have any tips or tricks that you use to keep your smartphone from taking over your life? Please share them in the comments below.
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Chat soon 🙂