Stop filling your time with apps and texting instead of moments with the family

I am guilty as charged when it comes to wasting time by texting and using Facebook and not spending quality time with my family. I am as guilty as the person next to me (you know who you are) in being the worst violators of being on my cell phone constantly. Not literally on my cell phone talking to someone but using all the applications on my iPhone. I fully support the use of smartphones to getting news and information quickly, but it has become an unwanted addiction for interest besides news.

As Americans we waste the precious time we have with our families and friends to be on our phones. I can’t count how many times I have been out to dinner with people and we spend half our time checking our phones instead of visiting with one another.

According to a 2012 study by Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, “87 percent of American adults own some kind of cell phone–and these devices have an impact on many aspects of their owners’ daily lives. Forty-six percent of those users have a smartphone.” When that many adults in America own a phone, it is bound that our social lives have been altered by technology and quality time with families are being lost.

Remember that number is not including teens and kids who own cell phones. According to a 2012 study by Pew, “23 percent of teens ages 12-17 have a smartphone while 54 percent have a regular phone.” I remember arguing for a pager back in the day when those were the “it” technology to have as a teen. Now it feels like we are giving our children cell phones at birth.

The other day my mother proposed that we have a basket that we drop our phones into so that we actually spend quality time with one another. Little did I realize that when she said that she was calling me out on my own complaint. Don’t you hate when someone points out a flaw that you know is true but you hate to admit that you are guilty of doing it? I know I do. I try to justify my need or call it obsession for being on the phone. We love to complain about others being on their phones too much but what about looking at our own lifestyle.

When we had a plain cell phone and it was used for was making phone calls and maybe receive text and picture messages, which who really cared about the need to be on our phones? We are in constant need of checking our phones to see if we have received a text or social media notification, even when we are on a date with our spouse.

What would happen if we didn’t have our phone by us all the time? Studies have shown that we are in need to be in constant contact with people. According to an article on Huffingtonpost.com, “Nomophobia: 66 Percent Are Afraid To Be Separated From Cell Phones, Survey Shows”, says that “The study suggests that at least some of these people have what is called “nomophobia,” defined as the phobia of being out of contact with someone via mobile phone.”

It really hits home when your three-year-old daughter wants to play and you are too interested in checking your phone for notifications than paying attention to her. I have had her come up to me, pull my phone out of my hand and say “mommy, stop playing on your phone and play with me.” Now if that doesn’t slap you across the face and wake you up to your bad habits then I don’t know if I can help you here.

According to an article on CNN.com, 10 smartphone habits you should avoid brought to our attention that before the worldwide web became mobile our social life was different. One of my favorite points they make is point 5 “Missing your favorite band’s concert because you’re so busy taking crappy photos, letting your phone ring and fiddling with your phone during the set.”

That is exactly my point; we rather miss what’s going on around us and moments with our family and pay attention to our phones. We are missing so much by this phone habit we have created. We have opportunities to get together and yet we sit around the table and check our phones as if our real “friends” lived in there.

We as a society are missing out on time with our loved ones yet we complain that we don’t see them enough. We have to put down our phones when we get home and focus on family.

Our families are our first priority and we have replaced them with smartphones and technology. It is amazing to me that my daughter is teaching me life lessons when I thought I was the one to be teaching them to her.

I will be the first to say that I am guilty of being on my phone too much; my excuse has been that I am a journalist and I need to know what is happening. But what I am first before I am a journalist is a wife, mother, daughter and friend and I need to be more in tune with my family before I waste more valuable time.

I get it, your sitting there realizing that I just called you out on the floor and made you realize a habit that you complain about most, is the one that your most guilty of doing. Its hard to break habits and I won’t say that this habit for me is completely broken but now I leave my phone in the bedroom more often when I get home from work so I can be with my family.

Americans need to come back to the dinner table without the phones. Set aside the time to hang out with your children and spouse without your phone. I know its hard to set down that phone but wasting time on your phone will never replace the valuable time you have with your family.

Now put down your phone and go spend time with your loved ones.

Tips and information about Americans smartphone usage

Tips and information about Americans smartphone usage