You probably think that you don't have a technology problem. Nobody likes to admit that they have an addiction to anything, especially something as silly as a cell phone. Unfortunately, research is proving that it is very likely you are using your cellular device way too often.
The Hard Truth
According to a study published in 2015, Americans are using their cell phones an average of 4.7 hours a day. Yes, you read that right, I said 4.7 hours a day. Of course, I realize that most of us aren't sitting still for a near 5 hours straight staring down at our hands. That handful of hours spent staring at a screen is broken up throughout the day. This leads me to an even more alarming realization-- those that are spending 4.7 hours a day on their cellphones are doing this while they are engaging in other activities.
With all that time spent living in half reality, half techno-reality, how do we function in real-life relationships? How has this human compulsion to check our cellular phones impacted our personal relationships, and specifically our romantic relationships? In a 2013 study conducted of 2,252 adults aged 18+, 25% of all adults admitted that they felt tension in their relationships because of cell phone distractions. That is 1 in 4 adults. When looking closer at these numbers, zoning in on adults aged 18-29, 42% admitted to feeling that technology caused tension in their serious relationships. Keep in mind that this study was conducted in 2013, meaning the numbers are likely to be even higher today as technology grows in our world more each year. Another study of just women showed that 75% of the 143 surveyed believed their smartphones are affecting their relationships.
Well, So What?
To be clear, I'm not a cell phone hater, I'm not against all forms of social media, and I'm not a person who hates taking pictures on vacations. I am a millennial woman who has seen technology interfere with my own relationship with my husband. From the time we have spent together using our phones in silence to the amount of unintentional comparing of our relationships and lives to that of others on social media, cell phones have caused mental and emotional tension.
No, we haven’t outwardly fought because of cell phones or technology, but there is an empty feeling that grows inside of me when I realize I didn’t catch what my husband had asked me because I was reading through my Facebook feed on my phone. There’s a sense of sadness that I feel when I have the urge to check my cell phone on our date. There’s a longing for deeper conversation that arises when we’ve spent an hour watching YouTube videos together at night. I’m sure whether you like it or not, you’ve all been there in your relationships.
It's so important that as a culture we relearn how to socialize together, without technology. We need to relearn how to have deep conversations, how to keep eye contact, and how to stay interested in real people. Relearning how to live without technology is going to strengthen relationships, attention spans, and our own self-esteem. There is hope. I made a list of some tips and ways to better your relationships knowing that technology has a way of distancing us.
What To Do?
1. Become Aware: The first step to realizing that you have a problem in your life that needs to change is to become aware of that problem. There is a great app called Moment that actually will count how many times you unlock your phone a day and add up how many hours you've spent on your cellular device. This is just one way to become aware of your cell phone use. Other ways are to be self-aware by noticing you have the tendency to check your phone multiple times on dates, while watching a movie, or while in conversation with your significant other. Also, if your partner has mentioned that you are always on your phone, that should be a pretty clear warning!
2. Leave It At Home: Date nights are crucial to stable relationships. With the fast-paced world we live in, we need time each week to unwind and connect with each other. Try leaving the phone at home, in the car, or tucked away in your purse or pocket at least once a week when you are with your partner. You'll be surprised how easily and quickly you can feel a deep connection with your partner when you don't have the weight of 3000 Facebook friends on the table. Spend time truly listening to each other and having real conversations.
3. No Phone In The Bedroom: With cell phones, we are always connected. Nighttime is a time to unwind and recharge. Keep your phone charging in another room at night and get an old fashioned alarm clock. Making your bedroom a technology free environment is going to better your health, your sex life, and for your sanity.
4. Decrease Your Data Plan: How much data do you really need? Decreasing the size of your data plan is a great way to save money and an even better way to ensure you aren't spending too much time on the internet with your phone. If you don't actually have the data to go on Instagram every hour, you won't!
5. Say It Face To Face: Let your partner know how much you love them the old fashioned way. Make them dinner, write them letters, whisper in their ears, say it any other way but on their Facebook wall. Let this upcoming month be a month of love and vow to be intentional about showing affection to your partner every week. It'll be a fun way to grow closer together and to let each other know how much you really do care.