The Benefits of Reducing Screen Time and Switching to a Basic Cell Phone

It has approximately been one year since I began the “radical” experiment of living “electronics” free one day per week. Before I began this journey I wondered if such a thing could be possible. My children are also on board with this healthy weekly cleanse. Now I anticipate this ritual. Some benefits include: heightened senses, quiet awareness, more quality time with loved ones and an increase of attention span.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons we should have a weekly electronics-free day. Also “why” we may wish to live more like a time traveler. Choosing only the technologies that truly benefit us.

When Steve Jobs released the iPhone, most likely he didn’t envision a world where humanity was chained to their device. It was designed as a tool, as was the Apple computer invented by Steve Wozniak. Jobs and other tech leaders placed high restrictions on the amount of screen time their children would be allotted each day. Unfortunately for most of mankind, the allure of continual connectivity and entertainment is too great a temptation. What we can do to improve this is to place more personal restrictions on online use. Getting a basic cell phone which blocks texting and data is one solution. An iPad or iPod touch used intentionally will give one the same features as an iPhone or “Smart Phone”.  Here are a few consequences of continual connectivity to a smart phone or device:

 

Looking Down at a Device Instead of Paying Attention to Our Children.

 We all have work that needs to get done. The internet makes paying bills, writing emails and doing research efficient. Yet many people keep their eyes glued to their phones, search for information or play games in extreme excess. During a research study interview, kids candidly admitted how lonely and resentful it made them feel when their parents would habitually respond to their smartphone instead of them.

Texting While Driving 

Don’t be a drone. Put down that phone. 

People who drive while typing or reading text messages are 23 percent more likely to have an auto accident. While all distracted driving is dangerous, texting is particularly hazardous as the party you are engaged with is unaware of your circumstances. Overestimating ones ability to multi-task coupled with digital addition, is the biggest reason why drivers habitually text and drive.

Texting May be Dumbing Down Our Language 

Some have argued that we have two languages, one for texting and the other for more for formal communication. Yet how often are people taking the time to write complete paragraphs? Increasingly we are seeing the computer workstation or laptop as unnecessary, as “there’s an app for that”.

Rather Than Live in the Moment We Seek Constant Entertainment

There seems to be a cultural movement where some of us believe life is more exciting when playing with our phones during all activities. Similar to running TV shows in the background during all activities in previous decades, yet more destructive. With a TV show in the background there might still be a good chance you could carry on a conversation with the person next to you. The smartphone however is the guest of honor, chief performing act and continual pacifier when brought in social settings.

We’re Losing Sleep by Checking Our Phones at Night

When we check text messages or notifications while trying to sleep at night, our brains are continually stimulated by light photons. Light sends a signal to our brain that we must stay awake as it delays the production of melatonin.

Our brains my also become further stimulated by reading news feeds or checking email. We may be saddled with concerns or excited by an announcement. Better to keep the smart phone out of the bedroom at night, or at the least turn on airplane mode.

People Stare Down at their Smartphones in Public Spaces

If we were to travel back in time to the year 2005, we could walk into a restaurant, school registration booths or shop without the distractions of smartphones. Our heads were facing forward unobstructed ready to greet the world. We might take a quick call from our cellphones, but would quickly get back to the world around us.

Here are some of the reasons why you may love having a weekly electronics day:

Heightened senses. There is a greater awareness of ones surroundings including sounds. You will hear and appreciate the natural music of birds, chimes, wind, rain, dogs barking, kids playing, bikes cycling and lawn mowers cutting grass. For example: Our family once enjoyed a lunch outing at a popular local restaurant. The experience would have been that much more pleasant had they decided not to play an overly loud background pop-station playlist. Taking a break from the radio gives one a renewed take on the world. The sound of conversation, laughter & clanging of dinnerware is ambient entertainment in itself.  When we learn to train our minds and ears, lifes “Foley” sounds reveal their natural charm.

Quiet awareness: You’ll hear your thoughts, and they will naturally slow down as we become more observant of our surroundings.  If you are a creative content creator, craftsmen or thinker this day will supply an infinite source of inspiration!

Why are we afraid of silence? When society is given the choice to be entertained by recorded music, video clips, social status update & movies or to experience natures backdrop, the impulse is to choose entertainment. What if we only used this media as a seasoning rather than our main course? Though most of us may hold jobs which require the computer, choosing to be entertained by default does not make us advance as a society.

Interaction with family. Video games, social media, texting, video, internet & radio noise fill the air with digital and analog noise. Taking a break from these channels clears the way for conversation to occur. It should be stated that I have a basic cell phone (cellular telephone) with texting and internet disabled. This phone is allowed on electronics free day only for heart to heart conversation.

We may write more. Keep a physical journal available. Using a hard bound journal or spiral travel notebook you may want to journal some of the insights of this freeing lifestyle. If you are a blogger or digital archiver, you can transcribe the writing into a digital format the following day.

Many homemakers admire the lifestyle of the Amish. Their ways of engaging in the world around them without the need for technology. This simplicity can be obtained without switching to this extreme lifestyle.

We can choose to be curators of the technologies that we use.