I recently discovered that I might be a phone addict. This is a hard place to be because our smartphone habits are affecting our health, our minds, our souls and our relationships.
Here are some suggestions that I want to share with you that might help. These are things that I am doing to put down the phone and get a real life.
1. Take Games Off Your Smartphone. Yes, I can hear the gasps all around the world! I’ve deleted Candy Crush off my phone….at least three times! “But what if I get bored?” you ask. Look around and chat with someone. Observe the world and the people. Use your imagination and humour. Be still. Pray.
2. Have Screen-Free Blackouts. Several years ago, our family set aside Wednesdays and Sundays as screen-free days…no Facebook, computer games, TV or any entertainment by screen. Instead, we play board games, go for a walk, read a book or cook a meal together (use a cookbook for recipes). Call it “Retro Days”.
3. Use The Phone In A Real Way. Try calling someone on the phone! It’s amazing to actually hear their voice, their expression, and have live, interactive discussion. Exercise your brain and use your words. If you don’t know who to call, call your Mum or Dad.
4. Gather With Real People. At mealtimes, banish phones at the table and enjoy each other’s company. On the bus, train or plane, turn and look at the person next to you as you sit down and say, “Hi, how are you?” You might meet your new best friend. Recently, our neighbours agreed to come together regularly for “Soul Food” – 90 minutes of food for the body and food for the soul. We pick a topic and ask questions. We each contribute what we know, what we’ve read, what we believe. It can be challenging to be with people from different backgrounds but as the discussion flows, we’re inspired and we inspire others. So just get out and be with people.
5. Change The Bedtime Routine. No screens in bed gives you space to think and plan for tomorrow or talk to your spouse and say a proper goodnight. (Someone said a proper kiss is at least six seconds long because it holds promise.) Reduce your health risks and don’t keep your phone under your pillow but instead charge up your phone away from your bed. This will also make your alarm more effective because you have to get out of bed to turn it off (It’s a pain but it works). In fact, if you want to be radical, get a real alarm clock so you’re not distracted by Whatsapp or Facebook messages as soon as you wake up in the morning.
6. Get Real Paper Into Your Hand. For example, pick up a real Bible and read it like a book. Carry your Bible to church in your hand. It can be a conversation starter as you walk on the street with it. During church, use your Bible so you don’t get tempted to check the other apps on your phone.
Recently, I was travelling with a young person. As we got off the bus, he pulled out a scrap of paper with directions on it. I was astonished! Once you have a plan, can you avoid Google Maps or Next Bus during your next trip? Look up and read the signs. If you get lost, ask a real person for help. Practise letting God be your security blanket instead of your phone.
Maybe pick up a real paper and get your news that way (and do the crossword puzzle too).
7. Indulge in times of silence and get away with God.
Every day can you take time to be quiet and alone with your own thoughts? Ponder life armed with your Bible, pen and paper to read, jot notes, and hear from God. The Bible says,
“The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV)
Smartphones are here to stay and our world is pressing in, but it’s time to press back and push the “Off” button once in awhile. It’s time to start a “real” revolution and it begins with me.
What about you?