I'm writing this from a place of sincere conviction and transparency. I hope that the addiction to distraction is not something you struggle with. Unfortunately, my guess is that most of us deal with it to some degree - whether it's through a cell phone, a laptop, a gaming system or a television screen.
I fell into the iPhone trap. It had become my everything. I check it first thing when I wake up. It's the last thing I do before going to sleep. If I wonder what the temperature is like, I use an app instead of stepping outside. I manage my money, my schedule, my to-do list, even many of my friendships through my phone. No wonder it's become a problem.
My husband has made comments several times about my phone use. I originally considered these snarky and unfounded. Until I realized they were true. I was ignoring him to check Facebook. I was responding to texts and emails while my son wanted to play in the other room. I was doing good things -checking in on my budget, responding to a colleague's email, encouraging a friend through text, creating a meal plan from Pinterest recipes - but to the detriment of my family who was right in front of me all along.
I was distracted. And it was hurting my family
Technology is awesome! It helps us to be more connected and can help us work smarter. I don't think that dependency on technology is necessarily bad. I'm pretty dependent on my washer and dryer, and I don't think that's a problem! The problem is when your distraction is having a negative impact on your life or on the lives of those you love.
Social media is not a problem if it's not keeping you from also connecting in real life.
Video games are not a problem if you're still able to be productive and be engaged with your family.
TV is not a problem if you're not using it to escape from your priorities.
Is distraction a problem in your life?
Think of your favorite distraction (social media, TV, casual games, phone, laptop, etc.) when answering these questions determine if it has too much importance in your life.
1. Has anyone you love ever told you or implied that they feel second place to the distraction?
2. Is it common for something to be physically separating you from your conversation partner? (i.e. your iPhone, iPad, etc.)
3.Do you anxiously think about the distraction when you are not able to participate in it? (For example, you eagerly wait until the end of church service to check Facebook?)
4. Have you said "no" to family members so you could spend more time with your distraction?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, prayerfully consider what steps to take to correct the problem.
A Common Problem
We don't have to look for hard numbers to prove distraction is a problem.
We can look around a restaurant and notice people on their phones instead of talking to the real people in front of them at the table.
We hear from a colleague about how her son (or her husband) barely hears her because he's constantly playing video games.
We can notice ourselves getting sucked into scrolling Facebook or Instagram instead of getting important things done.
But there are statistics to prove it too
Americans spend three hours a day using apps on their phones. That doesn't include actual call time.
One-third of adults who play video games, play for 10 hours or more a week.
In one study, 75% of women felt that smartphones were interfering with their relationship.
Why are we so addicted to distraction?
These are a few of the main reasons we're so addicted to distraction:
: "I have too much to do and I don't even want to think about it! I'll just play this game for a few minutes to relax."
2. Fear of Missing Out
"But everyone's on Instagram. I need to make an account, too, so I can see all of their pictures!"
"My husband doesn't really understand how I feel. But the people in this Facebook group do, so let me tell them what just happened!"
4. The Rush
"Yay! Someone liked my video." or "It feels so good to finally beat this level I've been stuck on!"
We're addicted because businesses profit from it, and we've allowed ourselves to fall victim to it.
What can we do to escape?
1. Turn off notifications
This is the single most important thing I've done. We have been conditioned like Pavlov's dogs. We hear a "ding," we check our phones. I only hear a sound now if someone is calling or I receive a text. That Facebook comment can wait.
2. Get some space
Physically remove the item from within your reach. When my son crawls into my lap to snuggle, I often throw my phone onto the other couch. Otherwise, I'm tempted to pick it up and scroll through other people's lives ... instead of being present in my own.
I've also recently started putting my phone in a closed compartment while I'm driving. This gives me a few more seconds to stop myself when I'm tempted to check it.
3. Set boundaries
If my husband is in the room, I'm not on my phone. Well, that's the goal anyway.
Designate phone-free zones, such as the kitchen table.
Decide to be device-free for a few hours after dinner.
Commit to only checking social media once a day.
Check with your spouse and/or kids before taking the time to return a text.
4. Get rid of it
This is extreme and not necessary for everyone. But in some cases, the best course of action is just to get rid of the offending item. Throw the game away, cancel the cable channel or delete the app from your phone (and don't reinstall it!).
Battling distractions is a big issue for many of us. You're not alone! We have to work hard to show the people we love that they matter more than any device. We can't allow our precious minutes to be stolen by distraction. Decide to start fighting back today!
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Beka Evington's website. It has been republished here with permission.