Like so many people, I am attached to my cell phone— too attached. I’ve known that for quite some time, but I don’t think I realized just how it was affecting my life, my relationships, and my ability to be present in the moment until I saw the viral video below highlighting what cell phone over-usage looks like from an outside perspective.
The video depicts various vignettes where people should be completely present but aren’t—because they’ve fallen prey to the siren call of their cell. Charlene deGuzman, a 29-year-old L.A.-based actress, came up with the idea for the video, “because there is a moment happening right now in front of you, right this second, and you’re missing it," she told WSJ.com.
I hate to admit this, but I’ve missed a couple of my son’s baskets during basketball games because my eyes were glued to that little glowing screen. I’ve paid money for great seats at a live concert but limited my view to a four-inch rectangle so that I could capture the action for later—rather than enjoying it in the right-now. I’ve felt the vibration of my “silenced” cell phone through my purse—and broken the cardinal rule of movie theaters by looking to see who texted, called, or emailed. I wouldn’t want to miss anything after all—except maybe the plot twist in the movie I’m watching!
The video hit home for me so much that I Googled “technology addiction” and was surprised by what I found. In a poll by Time magazine, 1 in 5 people reported checking their phone every 10 minutes, and a third of people said that even brief periods of time without their mobile devices resulted in feelings of anxiety. There was also a Swedish study that found a link between excessive cell phone use and stress, sleep disturbances, and depression. The researchers say public health ads advising people on healthy ICT (information and communication technology) may help combat this growing problem, as would limiting usage.
Since that’s easier said than done for some of us, here are a few tips I’ve either tried, or am planning to try, to help get me off of my cell phone and into the present. Have any great tips of your own to share? Leave a comment below, or tweet me @SusanCross1.
1. Set timers. I used to respond to every text and email the second it arrived. Now I set my phone’s alarm and only reply at predetermined times—morning, midday, and evening. Guess what? The world is still turning.
2. Basket case. My family drops their cells into a basket I keep on the kitchen counter so we aren’t tempted to text during dinner.
3. Check mate. A friend told me about a little “game” she plays with friends when they have a girls’ night out, and I can’t wait to test this one: They all put their phones facedown on the table, and whoever picks theirs up first also picks up the check.