This weekend, I had the bizarre impulse to text my two year old to tell her something. Although it would be an effective way to communicate important updates (“Emma’s mom is picking you up at preschool!”), I clearly don’t want to rush my daughter’s childhood. I know I’ll find myself too soon sitting across from a surly teenager who won’t look up from her Smartphone. Or whatever we call it in 2028.

When my own impulse is to text to communicate, I wonder what it says about me. Am I too dependent on this pocket technology? Have we lost some sense of presence with the people around us? Was it better when our mothers would yell at us from another room to come to the table for dinner? What is the balance here?

How do we have a healthy relationship with our Smartphones? Here are three things to try that might help you find balance with that pinging devil.

1. Don’t begin and end the day scrolling through your newsfeeds.

If the idea is to get a peaceful night’s rest (it is!), then it’s hard to do if the last thing you have in front of your eyes before drifting off is the news of something terrible happening in the world or to your friend. Give yourself permission to rest before you sleep.  

The same is true when you wake up. You don’t need to wake up trying to solve the world’s problems.  Give yourself permission to ease into your day. 

2. Make use of the Do Not Disturb feature.

Maybe one of the most helpful things we can do is utilize that handy feature that silences our phones without actually having to power them down.  I’m quick to use it when, say, I go into the movies, but what’s to stop me from doing the same when I’m reading a book, or having dinner with my husband, or playing with my daughter? It’s a way to communicate to my unconscious that I am, for this set period of time, unavailable to be bothered.

3. Call your friends. They like hearing from you.

 

Clearly, my impulse these days runs toward texting to communicate to my people, even my two year old who has no possession of a Smartphone. Texting is an efficient way to ask quick questions and say quick hellos, but I’m betting the creators of this handy communication never intended for it to be our sole means of communication. If all we’re doing is texting our family and our friends, we’re missing out on hearing their voice. Every once in awhile, resist the urge to text and instead make a phone call. It’s nice to be reminded that there’s an actual person on the other side of the conversation, not just a text bubble.

So, how about you? Have you ever had the impulse to text your two year old? How do you handle your surly teenagers who won’t put their phones away? What are you tricks for maintaining a healthy relationship with your Smartphone?

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