Am I digitally mindful?
Being digitally mindful is something that I have been conscious about for a while now. I feel that technology plays a role in my life but I no longer let it control or consume me. I am very comfortable unplugging from my device and being present in what’s going on around me. I will purposely leave my phone at home or turn it off so that I am not side tracked by the alerts it sends me. My favorite place to get away is going to our cabin where we have very limited cell reception and no Wi-Fi. A complete digital break when I am down there.
A few years ago I wasn’t digitally mindful. I would waste hours a day on Facebook, Pinterest, email, instant messaging, texts, etc. I would put off my “to do list” and spend hours on my phone. I would pick up my phone in the drive thru line, at stop signs, in church, waiting for my kids, in the grocery line, you name it I had my phone with me and was probably scrolling through it. I felt like I was conditioned to the phones alerts and sounds. My day revolved around my phone.
This all changed when my son got a cell phone and we established rules for his use. When my husband and I were writing our “phone expectations” contract with him I realized that I did not follow any of the expectations I was requiring of him, nor was I an example for being digitally mindful. I had a moment of feeling really embarrassed for my addiction to my phone. It really got me thinking about how much time I “wasted” each day. I was checking in more with my phone then I was having conversations with my kids. I was neglecting house work while creating Pinterest boards. I was missing out on conversations with others because I was too connected to my device to notice who was behind me in the grocery line. It was a life changing moment, literally. The very next day I deleted all my Pinterest boards shut off my phone alerts and made a pack with myself to check on Facebook and Pinterest only when my kids were asleep.
It was not easy to change my mindset. It took a couple weeks for me to really make the switch. I had to let my family know my plan and they kept me accountable. Now I think that I may have gone to the other extreme. I do not spend much time at all online, I check into Facebook a couple times a week and I rarely ever get on Pinterest. I have never been one to share much on Facebook besides pictures. I never have given daily updates. One thing that I have noticed is that I have more time in my day to get important stuff done or hang out with my family. If there is spare time in my day I would rather read a book or go for a walk then sit on the couch looking at my phone screen.
I could relate to some of what Paul Miller shared in his TEDTalk. I defiantly feel that I was addicted to my phone and more concerned with “following” what others were doing then being present and connected in my personal life. I will admit I don’t think that I could quit technology all together like he did. I do feel that technology has a purpose in my life. I have just made the choice of how much time I am willing to devote to it. There are some days I don’t use technology at all and then days like today where I have had to use it for several hours (Summer school).
I talked a little last week about balance. I think that I have found my balance for being digitally mindful. It is something that I have to remind myself about from time to time. There are times I do give in and use technology as a crutch or a distraction, but I am consciously choosing to. Much different than my past where I was consumed by it.
As I am raising kids, I am trying to teach them to be digitally mindful. They have expectations that need to be followed to be able to use their phone. My husband and I have given them guidelines to follow and I feel that we are leading by example. We have conversations about technology all the time. I love that my son can leave the house without his phone for the afternoon and enjoy playing basketball with friends on our court. When he has buddies over they are not just sitting around texting, they are having conversations instead. I made my son read the article “What happens when teens try to disconnect from tech for three days” . His comments were “it wouldn’t be that hard”, He would miss “snap chat and Pokémon-go”, but “I would be just fine mom”. I was glad to hear those comments from him. I want him to find other ways to connect with the world around him other than through technology.
Another article worth sharing is “13 Things Mindful People Do Differently Every Day”. I feel like I Do 9 out of 13 of these things. I definitely feel like I can accomplish a few more. Learning from past experiences I realize that moments are very precious. That being mindful is the most valuable way I can spend my time with others and myself.