Saturday, July 2, 2016


I've never been a big fan of screen time, especially for my kids.  The TV is only on if someone is watching it, and kid-time on the tablet is an end-of-the-day reward for good behavior.  TV shows are limited, and computer time is non-existent for the kids in our house.  I don't really watch TV during the day, and I try to be very available for my kids as we spend our days together.  It's not that I think that screen time itself is a bad thing, but it's very easy for us to get out of balance and lose sight of our relationships and responsibilities as a result of too much screen time.

So I basically do okay with limiting screen time, except when it comes to my phone.  I (like most people) am very dependent on the black hole otherwise known as my phone.  The information that is literally at my fingertips can distract me in a way that is unhealthy.  Like when my son is trying to talk to me and I just want to look at Facebook.  Or when I really should be making dinner, but I would rather read an online article instead.  I don't totally ignore my relationships or responsibilities, I just don't give them my full attention if I'm doing something on my phone, which is more often than I like.

So when I lost my iphone this week for just under 48 hours, my first response was not one of panic as I might have expected, it was just one of being very inconvenienced.  Without my phone, I had no portable method of communication.  The only calls I could make were from our rarely-used house phone or from someone else's cell phone.  I couldn't text.  Or take pictures.  Or easily get on social media.  Or check my email.  Or keep up on my photo food journal.  Or listen to podcasts as I did housework.

My inability to easily communicate was more inconvenient than it normally would have been because of the large 40th anniversary party I was throwing with my siblings for our parents this week.  Those last minute details that we needed to run by each other were suddenly a whole lot harder.  That plus the fact that my husband's out-of-state brother and his family were also coming to town for a visit just compounded everything.

As inconvenient as it was, I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I didn't mind being unreachable.  And by how much less stimulated my brain felt (important for someone with OCD!).  The things that I use my phone for the most turned out not to be that big of a deal to be without.

  • Pictures - Everyone else took plenty of pictures and videos at the party.  Not taking pictures was a huge change to how tethered I usually am to my phone while I try to capture moments with my camera.  
  • Communication - I wasn't constantly glancing at my phone to check for texts or missed calls.  If someone needed to get ahold of me, they could call my house phone and leave a message if necessary, or they could call someone else I was with.
  • Social Media - Oh, Facebook.  And Twitter.  And Pinterest.  How you all make my time disappear.  I was still able to check Facebook on my computer, but it took more effort to boot up the laptop instead of just hitting the Facebook app on my phone.  I wasted a lot less time.
  • Photo Food Journaling - I love this app, and I have lost some weight through recording my food intake through photos.  But when it's every single thing I eat (which I was not disciplined enough to do most of the time), unlocking my phone and opening the app to take a picture became tedious and took away from meal times with my family.
  • Reading the Bible - Having the YouVersion app on my phone made reading the Bible very portable.  But reading the actual pages of a Bible this week was really nice.  I like looking at pages instead of a screen.  
  • Podcasts - I did miss the podcasts.
When I found my phone, I had mixed feelings.  The convenience factor was back, but so was the potential of having a constant pull to stare at the screen to make sure I hadn't missed anything.  After having a taste of not having it for a couple of days, I have been hesitant to jump back in to fully using it.  

I really only want a cell phone for two reasons: to communicate (texting and calling) and to take quality pictures.  Everything else is a bonus and tends to be a distraction from the life God has given me.  In light of this, I've decided to make some changes.  
  • Pictures - I still plan to use my phone as my camera, but I'm going to make an effort to enjoy what is going on around me as my first priority instead of getting a good picture to put on Facebook.
  • Communication - I'd like to only check my phone a certain number of times or at certain times during the day instead of carrying it everywhere with me, even throughout the house.  I want to steer clear of making this a compulsion, however, so I haven't quite figured this one out yet.
  • Social Media - I've deleted Facebook and Pinterest from my phone.  If I get on them, it will be from my computer which I usually don't use while the kids are awake.  I left Twitter on the phone because I generally only use it for communicating about my mental illness.
  • Photo Food Journaling - I deleted this app, at least for now.  If I start to feel like my food choices need to improve, I'll consider downloading it again.
  • Reading the Bible - I'm keeping the YouVersion app on my phone for the sake of portability, but I'm planning to make it my habit to read an actual Bible with pages instead of reading one from a screen.
  • Podcasts - I'm excited to continue listening to these as I do housework!
What are some ways that you limit your screen time?