Unplug and Reconnect

Why Unplugging Can Save Your Relationship

Stop and think for a moment about your relationship with your cell phone. If you are in your 30s or older, you probably remember a time when having a cellphone was not the norm. Do you remember those bag phones of the 90s? And when we actually used our phones for calling people? Now, the majority of the population probably texts, tweets, or snaps more than they actually talk on their cell phones. I mean, think of the horror if you didn’t have your phone when you’re waiting in an elevator, at the doctor's office, or standing in a line? It might force you to make eye contact with someone or (gasp!) even begin a conversation with them.

Is your cell phone use around strangers similar to how you use it around your family or within close relationships? Are you checking your phone during dinner? Do your kids have to ask you to get off the phone and pay attention to them? During a conversation with your significant other, are you dividing your attention between them and your phone? The tiny computer that fits in your pocket may be damaging your relationship and there is growing evidence to support this and the negative impact that phones can have on our health.

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“Technopherence” & Relationships

Psychology Today has written extensively on the perils of developing an addiction to digital devices. It manifests in different ways, from a phantom vibration sense to an inability to put a smartphone down to drive.

When it comes to relationships, “technoference” is the negative impact that digital devices have on our love lives. A 2014 report found that some couples--who live together, mind you--only spend twelve minutes a day interacting with each other. Truly talking and listening, while looking at each other and not at a screen.

That distraction is just the beginning. Social media is also a culprit in dissatisfaction with relationships. As we peruse sites like Instagram where we can see all the highlights of other’s lives, it can make our own feel less fulfilling. The evil of comparison is on full display.

Luckily, it’s easy to combat this with a few simple strategies.
 

  • Unplug Together

Find a mutual time during which you and your partner plan to put the technology away and chat.  Maybe over dinner or before falling asleep in bed. Plan activities, like hiking, biking, and more that can help break that compulsive need to be online.
 

  • Consider The *Why*

Second screening, or using two screens at once--like watching TV while you’re on your smartphone or tablet, is omnipresent. It also makes it nearly impossible to be present with your partner. So ask why you’re about to open Facebook while you’re watching your favorite TV show, or why you’re about to text that person back while you’re sitting with a friend, or if you need to respond to Snapchat eating dinner with your spouse. If it’s a question of boredom, use the time to do something productive (or at least without your smartphone or tablet).
 

  • Try Technology

Wait what? Weren’t we just trying to tell you to use technology less? Well we are...but there are some helpful apps and settings out there that may help you be more successful. If you’re tempted to check your phone while driving, try out a “Do Not Disturb” setting or text auto-replies. There are also timer apps or tracking apps (i.e. Moment or Quality Time) to measure how much time you are spending on your phone or apps that block usage (i.e. Freedom or Flipd) of certain apps to make you take a break.

 

This is your life. How much of it do you really want to waste on your phone? When you reflect on the past year, do you really wish you would have spent more time on social media or reading the news? Work toward more freedom from your cell phone and at the end of the year, I'm sure you’ll have no regrets about spending more quality time with the people you care about.


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