Smartphones and Relationships Part 2: How Not to Fall Victim to Overuse!
Recently I posted on a study about whether your smartphone may possibly be ruining your relationship (http://www.vingle.net/posts/622147). I've thought about the different angles on the issue a lot since then - so I was excited when I turned on the car this morning and found the same topic on the "Forum" show with Michael Krazny. I linked the segment here - it was a great panel with lots of interesting and thought-provoking comments from callers. The guests, as is usually the case on Forum, represented multiple perspectives. Some agreed with the study and talked about the harm mobile devices and technology addiction more generally can have on relationships, while another guest thought the effects were overstated and pointed out the ways technology is beneficial. I'd love to know what you all think about their debate in the comments!
Meanwhile, the comments on my previous post together with today's radio segment made me think of several ways we can achieve balance and use our smartphones and other devices in a way that doesn't hurt our relationships. Here are my new ground rules:
1. Don't reach for and look at my phone as soon as I wake up.
As one guest pointed out, both neurologically and psychologically it is important to have some moments of solitude, self-awareness and thoughtfulness upon waking. It also represents turning away from your partner to the outside online world instead of waking up and turning to your loved one to connect and say "Good morning!" I am definitely guilty of this, and I'm looking forward to trying out my new rule for a better start to my day.
2. Don't pick up the phone when engaged in conversation, and don't walk into the house while talking on the phone.
It's really just not polite to habitually interrupt your interactions with others to pick up the phone or check on an alert of some kind, unless it happens to be an urgent matter. In that case, one panelist suggested politely letting the other person know that you are waiting for an important call and may need to take it. As for walking into the house, how about instead walking in, saying hello to your family, having hugs, connecting, and talking about your day.
3. Don't browse my phone while hanging out with my loved ones or while having a conversation.
We are definitely guilty or this, and although it really bugs me when my loved ones do it - I know that I do it, too. I really want people to look me in the eyes when we're having a conversation - otherwise I don't feel like they are paying attention and either I get frustrated or I lose interest. Be engaged, be in the moment, connect person to person.
4. Don't get on mobile devices in bed before going to sleep.
If each person is buried in their own devices, turned away out into the online world, it prevents any kind of conversation or intimacy during one of the few times when we slow down enough to connect deeply. Furthermore,
research shows that the light from devices as well as the stimulation negatively affects your sleep patterns and your ability to fall asleep in the first place.
What other ground rules do you think would help balance smartphone and device use so there doesn't need to be a conflict with relationships? @hetmeisje and @TechAtHeart I'd especially love to know what you think!