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Be Real: Put that Smartphone Down

Are you in a toxic relationship with your phone?

Toxins are all around us – from air pollution to noise pollution, chemicals in the products we use daily, and yes, toxic friendships.

I have a confession to make. I am in a toxic friendship with my iPhone. I am betting that many of you are too.

While the smartphone is good to me in many ways – it answers questions when I cannot think of the right answer, it provides companionship and helps me stay connected with friends in distant places, and it brings my tunes with me wherever I roam – it is also an incredibly toxic friend.

My smartphone tricks me into thinking that I am interacting with my friends. It tricks my brain into thinking I am more productive, more creative. And, it lies to me daily about what is going on in my world. Everything on social media looks shiny and happy with smiling faces, job promotions, and sunny beach days.

However, this isn’t real. I mean, is any of this really real?

Recent research reported by Blue Zones (link: https://bluezones.com/2017/09/why-you-need-a-digital-detox/) found that 80 percent of Millennials look at their phones upon waking up.

I have a feeling that many people – regardless of age or generation – could likely say the same thing. It’s an addiction. Every ping, every Like, every Follow – it leads us down a spiral of needing to be constantly online and constantly touching our phones.

In many American restaurants the scene is the same – couples, families, sitting down for a meal and several of the members engaged on their phones instead of engaged with those around the table. It is a silent meal where no one really delves very deep into conversation because we are interrupted by the constant chatter available on our phones.

It isn’t like this everywhere.

I recently vacationed in Paris and London and I can honestly say there were very few phones visible at restaurants. The parties engaged (often loudly) in conversation with their friends at this tables or even perfect strangers around the bar. Topics ranged widely, but the conversations were mostly jovial. It reminded me of a time before smartphones when we actually knew how to talk to each other.

And, it stunned me because I hadn’t realized how far my conversation skills had degraded since starting my relationship with a smartphone. It is alarming!

In the beginning, I may have thought it was great. Wow, instant information! Instant connection with friends! Instant answers to questions!

Now, however, I am starting to realize that I am not better off. I now depend on this piece of technology to answer questions for me instead of using my brain to recall pieces of information that I once knew and that likely remain hidden there in cobwebs just waiting to be pulled out. However, with the smartphone, I never pull on them to come out. Instead, I just Google.

That in itself can’t be good for our brain power.

Now, before you think I am going to toss my phone away and go back to landlines and encyclopedias, just wait for a moment.

What is the answer here?

The answer can’t be to go back in time (that rarely works for long); perhaps the answer is simply to notice these tendencies about ourselves and to try to make a chance for the better.

When you notice yourself reaching for the phone during dinner, stop yourself and instead look at those around you and start a discussion. Small steps people!

The only way we can improve ourselves and start to limit our toxic relationship with technology is to notice it and resist. The smartphones are here to stay and for many they are a vital part of their livelihoods, but they do not need to be everything.

Realize that often they lie to us. Life isn’t perfect beach days and sunshine all the time.

It can be good for your health too! Centenarians often cite friendships, social groups, and their purpose in life for the reasons they live a long life.

If you are ready to learn more and to even try a digital detox, check out the link: https://bluezones.com/2017/09/why-you-need-a-digital-detox

*You may have noticed the blog name has changed - we have updated this regular blog to be called Be Real. On the Be Real blog you can expect healthy living topics from the front lines of parenting and family life! Enjoy!

Rachel Swick Mavity

Rachel Swick Mavity

Rachel Swick Mavity, MS, is the Digital Content Coordinator for Beebe Healthcare and is a freelance writer. She lives in Milford with her husband and two children. Her passions include storytelling, photography, healthy products, and coffee.