On an average morning, you will find me sitting on the couch, scrolling through Instagram and Twitter (catching up on whatever nonsense Trump tweeted in the middle of the night), replying to emails and taking videos of Arizona’s every move, all while she plays quietly nearby. Sound familiar? I know I use my phone too much. I find myself reaching for it when I need to feel more sane, more connected to the world outside of diapers and teething and The Wiggles – which is much too frequently. I feel guilty whenever I’m on my phone in front of the baby. And yet, I don’t put it down. Why?
I did some digging and learned a ton about smartphone addiction and the effects on adults and children. One study led by Dr. Nancy Cheever at California State University, suggests that phone-induced anxiety operates on a positive feedback loop, meaning phones keep us in a persistent state of anxiety and the only relief from this anxiety is to look at our phones. Another study found that out of 6,000 children surveyed, 32% felt unimportant when their parents were distracted by smartphones. The children surveyed were between the ages of 8-13, but that doesn’t mean that kiddos under 8 aren’t feeling the effects. I worry that my daughter feels neglected when I’m on my phone. I worry that she will take after my bad habits. At only 10 months old, Arizona is obsessed with technology of any kind. Remotes, cords, phones, iPads. We don’t give the baby our phones or an iPad to use, but if she gets a hold of one, she will repeatedly press that middle button until Siri starts up a one-sided conversation. Arizona sees us constantly on our phones, and she wants in on that action! I don’t blame her.
The point of me telling you this? I’m coming clean about my struggles as a way to hold myself accountable. In this day and age, it’s hard to avoid exposing our children to smart devices or big screen TVs. But I have control over our household devices and I pledge to do better. For starters, I’ve been putting my phone away during breastfeeding, so that I can be present to enjoy my daughter and our time together. I installed the Moment app that tracks my phone usage. I’m becoming more mindful about putting the phone away around Arizona.
I once went without my phone for almost two months. My sleep improved, I had more time to connect with others, and was generally more present in all aspects of life. I want to find a balance between having my phone as an extension of my arm, and going without, cold turkey. I know that by decreasing my phone usage, I will be able to increase my quality time with my hubby and our daughter and that sounds pretty amazing if you ask me.