I like technology as much as the next person. I have a smartphone, a tablet, a notebook, ebook reader … you name it. But sometimes I like to switch off. We have established a few zones in our house where technology is not welcome.
Before you read on, let me just say that I don’t wish technology away from my life. My goal however is to control it rather than being controlled by it. It doesn’t work at every single moment and I catch myself breaking the rules more often than I want to admit. So this post is about the attempt to break free from a tech-addiction.
In our family we have the rule of no gadgets on Sundays. This means that no one in the family without a convincing reason is allowed to use their computer, tablet, TV, or phone during the day. We implemented this rule even before we had kids to force ourselves to spend time with each other. It’s even more important now, with kids. We use the time rather to do things we all enjoy: little adventures or simply going for walks.
There are exception to the rule such as if there is urgent work to be done that cannot wait until Monday. We have made it a habit of asking the other persons if that is okay. We also make an exception for phone usage when there is a call or an urgent text message (emails don’t count). And being out and about we usually make the exception for using the phone as a navigator.
We almost always have dinner as a family together and I push for these dinner times to be tech-free as well. I leave my phone in another room and won’t answer it even if it rings. This way I can focus on my food and on the people around me.
As a child we had this rule in my family. It dates back from a stationary phone when the person had to leave the room to answer it. Even though we wouldn’t have to leave the room anymore it makes sense to keep the rule. Dinner should be about the food and the conversation between the people at the table. A nice (and very important) side effect is that by eliminating distraction the attention turns to food. Also, by talking about our day it gives everyone at the table an opportunity to think about their experiences. A phone or any other tech device would hurt this process.
This is a biggie for me because I have gotten caught up in watching shows online until the wee hour of the night. I had turned into a mummy zombie a few times. In order to avoid this to happen I leave my phone and especially my tablet in another room. That seems to reduce the incentive of quickly checking something and of getting hooked to some form of entertainment.
There are studies that suggest that having phones in the bedroom are disrupting our sleep. And especially the background light of any hand-held device contributes to sleep deprivation. I find that even reading on an ebook reader with a background light can be disturbing. I use my ebook reader with a little light that clips on the top of the reader.
Those are just our little rules in the house which help us to use technology at our will – rather than the other way around. It’s not easy and doesn’t work all the time but we try our best.