Cell Phone Fanatic

Dear yayas,

I’m starting to feel like I’m a bit addicted to my cell phone. I’m on it a lot during the day–checking email, opening apps, going on social media, reading news stories. It’s kind of taking up a lot of my time. I know this on some level and have tried different things to cut back (including an app, which seems counter-productive). But my husband said something to me the other day that has me kind of bummed. He kind of called me out on my what he calls “excessive cell phone use.” He hurt my feelings when he said he feels like I’m neglecting our kids and home because of my phone. I think he went a little far, but it still hurt and I’m left wondering: how much time on my phone is too much? It can be kind of lonely being a mom and I’m not going to lie…connecting with other adults on my phone during the day helps me feel less lonely. I feel like I need help with this, but I’m not sure where to turn or if it’s even as big a problem as my husband says it is. What do you think, yayas? How much is too much? 

– Cell Phone Fanatic

Hello Cell Phone Addiction, I am totally guilty of the same thing. My husband and I have had a similar discussion of my cell phone use. But the reality is that our phones and all of the social media apps are designed to be addicting, just like slot machines at the casinos. We are all guilty of too much cell phone use, even our husbands. Things that have helped me reduce my cell phone use are only going on social media with the intention to post something. I never go on just to scroll or browse. If I find myself getting the urge then I put my phone in another room. I also frequently delete social media apps from my phone. For example, I no longer have the Facebook app and only use it on my computer which has significantly reduced my use of it. I also leave my phone in the kitchen before I go to bed and do not look at my phone in the morning until I have gone through my morning routine, which involves coffee and writing outside before my family wakes up. It is challenging to break the habit and you have to be conscious of it, but it is possible. I would start with finding something else you enjoy to replace it with, like making your favorite drink or doing a word puzzle instead. Try one small habit change at a time and keep adding new ones as time goes on. – Nadia

Dear Phone Fanatic, Thank you for asking this question and self reflecting. I am a teacher and I jump between a very full time working world/ mommy at night schedule to a full time stay at home mommy during my vacations. While working I can’t stand being on my phone or computer when with my kids because my time with them is so limited. However, during my stay at home mommy time in the summer months I find myself on social media a lot more. I get it, being at home with children is wonderful, but can also be isolating. Social media and technology have the ability to create a healthy brain break from the current situation. With all that being said, I highly suggest implementing a schedule while home that has an interval of quiet time, about an hour, in the afternoon. During this time you can teach your children how to calm their bodies (i.e. rest, watch an episode of a PBS show, listen to quiet music and draw etc.) and you can take time to breath and work or play online. It takes time to establish this routine, yet might make it easier to keep the phone aside during the morning and evening. Go you for taking communication in your home seriously. – Bernie

Dear Fanatic, I would say to observe yourself and notice when and how often your are on your phone. Just being more aware will help. Maybe having certain “no phone” times? Maybe when the family is together. Sounds a bit harsh to call neglect of home and family over cell phone usage, but its good that your husband shared this with you and you can have more communication with him about it. Talk about what he needs, what you need. Work towards a balance. Seems like so much of our work is about balance! Good luck! – Taren

First, I think it’s great that you’re reflecting on your own phone usage. 
While your spouse’s comment may have lacked some sensitivity, you can use it as an opportunity to self evaluate your own usage. Upon evaluation, you may find your usage to be too much or it may be what’s right for you. Personally, I go through phases with my phone of being on it more than I want to be, and then cutting way back, and then slowly working back up to more again. For me, turning off all notifications on my phone helped me cut back a lot. Social media is definitely the time-sucking part for me, so I have to make a conscious goal to only check it at certain times of the day. I find that I’m generally happier when I’m not on my phone as much and I’m more invested in the “real life” that’s going on around me. You have to do what works for you, and you’re the best one to figure that out. – Diana

Dear Fanatic, I get it. Cell phones can be very addicting, that’s been proven over and over. I question my relationship to my phone every once in a while. I love that it’s a catch all and hate that for the same reason. I purposefully don’t use it for scheduling so that I have one less reason to grab it each day. We get so much criticism from all directions when it comes to our parenting that someone commenting on our phone use can feel like one more judgment that we don’t need. Presentation of those opinions affects us, too. I can understand spouses wanting to help each other, including pointing out that we might have a problem that we don’t see, but personally, I would rather it be a discussion than a lecture. Cell phone addiction is a new topic for all of us, but one that needs to be brought up. If you are starting to feel uncomfortable with your cell phone usage on any level, start limiting yourself or do a full two days without it and sit through all those emotions. Discomfort is often a call to action. Something your husband said made you uncomfortable. Something about your usage makes you uncomfortable. I’ve been there. But we can’t just sit in that discomfort. We’ve got to move to the other side of it. Sounds like a big call to connection with all members of your family. That doesn’t have to be a challenge, but a joy! Family is the most important thing in the world and here’s an excuse to drop everything, go on an adventure, and just play with them! This discomfort doesn’t have to be permanent. You are totally capable of turning this situation around and getting it to what feels like a healthy, non-invasive level. Aloha, Lori Beth

Heya Cell Phone Fanatic, Wow, this is a bit of a reality check for most parents I think. Electronics really do have a captivating way of distracting people from other things. I read an article this week that touched on how distracting the persuasive design of our electronics really are-and it’s a bit scary! That said, I totally commend you for having this conversation and being open to noticing that it is causing some issues for you. Something I have done personally is remove the most tempting apps from my phone for a time (Pinterest has never made a reappearance). My good friend sets a timer so she can take x minutes several times a day to check in and be online. I know there are apps that will track how much time a day you are on your phone-that might be something you would be interested in trying too! I do agree with you—being a mom is hard and there are lonely days for sure. For me, it’s about finding balance and not giving up or choosing one over the other. If you feel like the scales are tipping towards too much phone time, limit yourself. There’s nothing wrong with waiting to answer a text, Facebook or email! You got this momma! – Cortney

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