I remember one day during eLearning, my eight-year-old son was on a break. He leapt from his chair and looked up at me.
I was on a break too, but totally glued to my phone, checking Twitter again and browsing job updates. He looked up at me for a while, waiting for my attention.
But for some reason my stupid brain wasn't registering his need for connection at that moment.
I was committed to my current task—it must’ve been important because I remember feeling extra hustled that month with career options. I remember having to invest much more time in my professional growth and prospects that month.
In my hustle, though, I allowed anxiety to swallow up my attention.
Finally, he blurted, "Dad, play with me!"
At first, I almost wanted to defend myself:
This is critical. Hold on.
Look, I don’t bug you when you’re busy (which is totally not true).
One sec…gotta finish this…
I was worrying about investing in myself at the moment, missing an opportunity to connect.
That’s when I felt God speak to me.
It wasn’t this booming voice from the heavens (like the caricature from Monty Python and the Holy Grail). No, it was subtle. Pointed. Convicting but kind.
He said, “Your son is your greatest investment.”
I looked down. My son was still watching me, waiting for my next move (man, he’d be a great card player).
So, I plopped my phone face down on the counter and said, “Hey big guy, what do you wanna do?”
His face lit up. Life resumed.
Coming up for air
We played for about 20 minutes. I don’t remember all the details, but my son loves to climb and run. So, it probably included some form of tag or wrestling me to the ground.
To be honest, I felt less stressed that day. Breaking from the spell of my smartphone helped me live more fully.
Plus, it lessened guilt.
Later when I had to use my phone for a work-related task, my son understood. I felt less stressed about having to take a call or check an email because I had already invested time in my son earlier that day.
There was a healthier rhythm to our relationship because the devices were put in their place.
As our founder, Chris, likes to say: “People are greater than pixels.”
Since that day, I’ve made a concerted effort to prioritize face-to-face connection with my son. I’m prone to the hustle, do-now-or-perish mindset. Partly because I genuinely deal with anxiety, and partly…well, it’s an area I’m still growing in.
As I’m coming up for air, that hustle mindset is fading away. Some call this “being present” or mindfulness. Some call it our “debt to love” others. Either way, I’m enjoying connection and joy more than my phone’s screen.
On the side, I've done a lot of research with the Techless team about how our phones consume our attention by design. They’ve become more than tools or entertainment hubs. They’re actively shaping our behaviors.
We’ve also heard from family members, friends, and the Techless tribe about their struggles with device distraction and addiction.
So, the team researched, compiled, and published a free online resource and ebook called “Life Fully: 9 Goals for Digital Well-Being."
It’s a practical, guilt-free, easy-to-implement guide for breaking the spell of our smartphones and investing in what matters most.