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Sunday Mornings with Rania: Stop! We Are All Addicted

It seems like just moments ago, my husband and I were discussing summer plans for our kids and how to make sure they played, traveled, painted, interacted with others and basically did anything else besides sitting on technology gadgets. We are always thinking of ways to keep their little fingers away from electronics and, as kids across this country request smartphones at a younger and younger age, most adults try to hold off on making that purchase until they absolutely can’t anymore. Interestingly enough, conversations and studies focus primarily on them and theirsmartphone use.

But what about us? We check our phones at every possible stop sign and traffic light (according to the book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter, the average adult has read or at least glanced at their email inbox every six seconds); whether we are alone, with friends or at a working lunch meeting, we keep our phones out while eating (what if the kids need us?); we have them in the evening to stay connected (it’s the only chance to check social media); we use them to track/capture our day (photos . . . we must take photos…); they often stay in our hands or at least right by our side even when we are with our children (…security blanket?) and they stay by our bedside in the evening (they do, after all, function as our alarm clocks). Excuses, excuses…

To make matters worse, a recent study askedIf you had to choose between having a broken bone or a broken cell phone, what would you choose? Forty-six percent willingly chose a broken bone. FORTY-SIX PERCENT! But don’t praise the remaining 54 percent just yet. The study’s author said it was actually a decision they “agonized” over.

Yikes… Are we a generation of adult addicts? I am afraid so. 

Some Stats.

Putting my researcher’s hat on, I found that the average adult spends no less than three hours a day on their smartphone. That number was just 18 minutes a day prior to the smartphone. If you ask me, I think we spend even more than three hours a day.

According to a Common Sense Media study, 41 percent of teens feel their parents get distracted by devices and don’t pay attention to them when they are together. Sixty-nine percent of parents admit to checking their devices at least hourly if not more. Fifty-six percent of parents admit to checking their mobile devices while driving. Add to that the fact that 48 percent of parents feel the need to immediately respond to texts, social-networking messages, and other notifications.

Are you too an addict? Take this simple quiz. And have your teens take it too.

The quiz asks great questions like “Do you feel reluctant to be without your smartphone, even for a short time?” My answer: YES. If you answer “yes” to more than five of the 15 questions, “you might benefit by examining how much time you spend on your smartphone,” according to the quiz.

What now? Break the habit.

  • Tell yourself no. Firmly. Fight the urge to always check your inbox, social media responses and newsfeeds.
  • Out of sight, out of mind. Use your adult laziness to your advantage! Place your phone where you can’t easily reach it. Charge it in another part of the home at night and go to your local store to buy an alarm clock!
  • Be intentional in replacing that smartphone time. Let’s face it, if you sit idly, the temptation will be too great. But if you start cooking, exercising, taking walks with your children, painting or anything else, you’ll be more successful in filling the gap.

Why?

  • Because our children do what we do and not what we say. Because we know that children don’t learn empathy and emotional intelligence from screens. Because 80 percent of teens admit to checking their phones hourly and 72 percent saying they are overcome by the need to immediately respond to texts and social networking messages.
  • Because the lure is dangerous. Because you post one photo and wait for feedback. Because while you wait, whether we realize it or not, the thought becomes what can I do next to keep my followers liking, commenting and maybe even sharing my posts? Because that social media pat on the head and positive affirmation is taking the place of adult social face-to-face interactions. And because it is creating a dangerous trend of chronicling your life, habits, favorite places, schedule and exact location (if you are not careful) with the entire world.
  • And because while we have our noses buried in a screen, a beautiful life is passing us by. Take time today to do what you ask of your kids. Play. Paint. Talk. Walk. Run. Dance and do anything and everything you can that keeps you totally unplugged and completely connected to real live life.

Now that you have read and maybe even shared Sunday Mornings with Rania (I’m always so thankful you do!), join me in “shutting down” technology and “turning on” life. Will you?

Posted by Rania Mankarious on 23 Jul 2017

About the author

Executive Director of Crime Stoppers of Houston