10 Ways to Unplug

Studies from comScore, eMarketer, and Flurry show that in 2017, the average American adult (18+) spent over four hours per day on their cell phone. That means that 1/6th of our day is spent staring at a hand-held device rather than interacting with those closest to us. That is also over 120 hours every month that we are distracted and disengaged from what is happening right in front of us.

Social media has taken over the current generation, and with new apps constantly being developed the trend does not appear to be slowing down any time soon. Our lives have become consumed with YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Instant Messaging Apps, and so much more “behind a screen” things that while we may feel socially active, our personal interactions are lacking.

On top of the text messages, emails, and phone calls, millennials have truly become attached to their phones. Have you ever forgotten your phone at home while going out of town for the weekend? What about just for a day while you are at work? I have, and as embarrassing as it is to admit it, I have felt lost without it. It is amazing to me how attached we really are, and most of us do not even realize it.

All things aside, 2018 is here and we all the chance to UNPLUG.

I am not proposing that you go all year without using your cell phone, but instead try to live in the present. We need to spend face-to-face time communicating with our family and social circle. As an adult, we work on average eight hours a day, five days a week. When we get home we should be able to focus our attention on our families, not our phones.

Here are ten ideas that don’t involve your phone:

  1. Have a conversation with your child and ask them how their day was. Ask your significant other the same.
  2. Give your loved ones a hug.
  3. Curl up on the couch with your dog and watch a movie.
  4. Light some candles and take a nice bubble bath. Read a book.
  5. Join a gym and commit to your health.
  6. Go on a family walk together.
  7. Cold outside? Bundle up and go build a snowman together!
  8. Pick out a fun recipe for the entire family to help make.
  9. Start a new hobby…try something you never thought you had time for (remember, you have 120 hours/month of screen time you could put to good use!).
  10. Laugh together. Cry together. Laugh so hard that you cry!

Think about it – if we are spending on average 120 hours every month on our cell phones, what else could we accomplish in that amount of time? Time is valuable and we never get it back. If we could close our laptops and put our phones down, I truly believe that our lives would take a turn for the positive.

When children hit the teenager age, it is inevitable that they are going to want their own cell phone, Facebook account, etc. What is crazy to me is when I walk into a room full of kids between the ages of one and fifteen, more of them have some form of technology in their hands than not. I see two year olds holding cell phones and watching YouTube videos. I see four year olds with their own tablets (that they can operate incredibly well). I see nine year olds sitting off to the side with their faces buried in their cell phones.

Our children need to be just that – children. They need to play, learn, and explore just like many of you reading this did when you were growing up. When I was six, the idea of playing on an iPad never would have trumped being outside making mud pies and finding more rocks in the driveway to add to my “collection”. Too many kids today fear getting dirty!

As adults, we set the tone for our children. They pick up on our behaviors and mimic them. If they see us buried in our phones and laptops when we are at home, they will want to do the same. So I challenge you: if you are reading this, when you get home tonight put your phone away. Live in the moment and be present with your family and friends. If you are REALLY feeling up to it, finish out your week like this and see how much you can get accomplished. Maybe you will even pick up on a new hobby or tradition to start with your family!

Live well, Michelle (Y’s Director of Youth Development)

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