Live Fully: 9 Goals for Digital Well-Being

Live Fully: 9 Goals for Digital Well-Being

 

Introduction

Think about a tear-jerking moment from a favorite film. 

Which characters were affected? What had happened? Most importantly, how did the movie resolve the conflict or separation?

Have the story in mind?

The best films have the most fulfilling resolutions, where things are mended and relationships restored. We love films because they mirror our human experience and need for connection.

Now, there may not be a major villain or looming climax in your story. But, you do have trials and conflict. One you face—we all face—is balancing our digital and personal lives.

This short guide is meant to encourage you and support you as you build your own goals for digital well-being.There are nine short sections with actionable, researched suggestions you can take with you on your journey. Each section will end with helpful questions to encourage reflection.

(For more space to write your thoughts and goals, be sure to download the free eBook version of this guide).

We wish you the best as you venture towards digital well-being.

Live fully,

Team Techless

 

1. Embrace people more than my phone.

 

On average we spend roughly four hours each day on our phones in America. And our daily screen consumption is climbing.

There’s no escaping the smartphone grip on all aspects of living: Entertainment, information, organization, productivity, education, and more.

We’ve embraced smartphones. They’re family.

At Techless, we’re not anti-tech. We believe it is a powerful gift that’s worth using...just in the right away. It’s meant to be a tool to help people flourish.

And we believe smartphones have embraced too much of our lives. So, in this first chapter, let’s address how you can practically embrace others in a screen-saturated world.

1. Reconnect

Who are some friends, colleagues, mentors, or family members that have fallen off your radar?

Who brings energy and life when you speak to them?

Who needs your empathy and attention right now?

We reconnect our phones daily to recharge them. How much more our emotional stores need charging by reconnecting with those important people in our lives.

Now, if you’re feeling hopelessly hooked to your apps, podcasts, and social media, don’t fret. Alexandra Hamlet, a clinical psychologist, suggests we should “pair our technology use with offline activities.”

In other words, take your smartphone obsessions and passions and turn them into opportunities to reconnect with others. If you love watching new artists on YouTube, watch them with a buddy. If you still love Pokémon Go, then go catch ‘em all and hike around with a team of friends.

Hamlet suggests you offer yourself grace with this. She understands how tech-saturated your life is and that it takes time to grow new habits.


2. Replace

When do you find yourself getting sucked into social media, email, and YouTube feeds?

Replace that portion with a life-giving activity:

  • a phone conversation

  • writing a letter to someone who’s old-school like that

  • reading an epic story to your child

  • talking over ice cream with your teenager

  • throwing a frisbee, football, etc. with anyone and catch-up (it’s amazing how motion encourages connection).

This means you’re not depriving yourself. You are replacing time-sucking activities with something you love anyways.

3. Refresh

Setting goals for your digital well-being shouldn’t be rigid. These suggestions are just…suggestions. Reconnecting should refresh you as you take a break from the onslaught of social media. 

Talking and connecting should help refresh your spirit as you embrace more time with others.

In the end, we are designed for connection with each other. 

Reflect

  • What’s the top digital activity stealing some time from human connection?

  • How can you make more time for embracing others?

  • Think of a rejuvenating activity. How can you include others in it?


2. Start the day with my phone away

 

Your smartphone is probably the first thing you touch in the morning. The first thing you gaze at and lend your attention.

You’re not alone…

Anywhere between 46% and 61% of people check their phones either right before they get out bed or within five minutes of waking up.
— Lucia Peters, Bustle

She reports how we dive right into unread emails and social feeds. Instead of allowing our brains to rest in the morning, we start our days glued to the noise.

How to Start Your Day without the Phone

Zapier recommends keeping a screen-free hour first thing in the morning. They had realized how much of their morning routine was wasted on their phones, so their team decided to make it a group experiment.

By holding off on screens for an hour, they made time for the best morning routines. The author noted the experiment had to be “intentional” though:

To me, this wasn’t about hard rules—it was about being intentional. Thinking about our relationship to technology, then tweaking as necessary.
— Justin Pot, Zapier

The Zapier team shared how it affected each member: Some loved the new routine and kept going with it. Some bent the rules to fit their family’s needs. Many felt less anxious in the mornings.

Think about what you could gain by breaking away from your phone for at least an hour in the morning. You could…

  • Enjoy that cup of coffee while your daughter talks to you.

  • Watch Saturday morning cartoons with the fam (is that a thing still?).

  • Lay dormant in bed. Hibernate. Resist the world calling.

  • Cook something new for breakfast.

  • Read a book.

  • Pray.

  • Doodle.

Resisting the Hustle Culture

Screen-attachment and hyper-busyness have been the norm. Our culture of hustle is accepted.

Why? Well, one study on the "conspicuous consumption of time" found, “a busy and overworked lifestyle, rather than a leisurely lifestyle, has become an aspirational status symbol.”

But, you don’t have to succumb to the prevailing narrative. Taking the time to enjoy yourself and your family is not only okay—it’s necessary for well-being.

By starting with a screen free morning, you can set a restful and intentional tone for the day.

Reflect

  • What would be the hardest part about not using your phone first thing in the morning?

  • Are there roadblocks to this goal? How could you move those roadblocks to a different time of day?

  • What’s something you look forward to doing more of in the morning?

  • What’s one thing you’d like to reclaim in your mornings?


3. Binge-watch Nature

 

How many minutes per week would you have to spend in nature to measurably improve your well-being?

Matthew P. White and a team of researchers gathered data on how nature affected nearly 20,000 people. They found a pattern: People “significantly” increased their general well-being with at least 120 minutes spent outside per week.

Hands-down, spending time in the beauty of nature helps your well-being. 

In fact, more doctors are “embracing the back-to-nature paradigm” to treat a range of illnesses, whether mental or physical. They call it “ecopsychology.”

Getting Back to Nature

So, how do you make time for nature? How can you increase your outdoor time without losing time for life’s other necessities?

Here’s some easy ways to get back to nature. They’re broken down into the rhythms of your day….

MORNING ROUTINE

  • Walk your dog for an extra block without checking your phone.

  • Do a “weather check” with the kids. Step outside in your socks, sandals, whatever, and inhale that morning air.

  • Watch a sunrise.

  • Eat breakfast on the patio.

  • After working for an hour, take a 10 minute walk outside on your own or with a friend.

  • Sit in a “green space,” where there’s trees, grass, and an open area if possible.

  • Read outside.

AFTERNOON ROUTINE

  • Use a laptop everyday? In spurts, work outside or near an open window.

  • Let your Fitbit, Apple Watch, or other device remind you to take walking breaks every hour.

  • Make it social: Schedule daily or weekly walks with a buddy during a break.

  • Replace 15 minutes of social media scrolling with 15 minutes of reading under a tree or near some water.

  • Are you a nurse, teacher, or someone bound to serving people all day within a building? Use those breaks. Eat outside with a colleague. Find creative ways to take students or patients outside with you when allowed. Share research with your boss on the benefits of being in nature.

EVENING ROUTINE

  • Watch a sunset.

  • Go for walks, bike rides, or jogs with the family each night.

  • Eat outside once or twice a week.

  • Head to a local park and enjoy the open space after dinner.

  • Busy with sports and after-school activities? If they’re outside events, enjoy the moment with the phone away.

WEEKENDS

  • Plan a fun outdoor adventure one to two times per month, whether going for hikes or sitting at the beach.

  • Kids clamoring for video games? Slowly make outdoor time a natural rhythm before screens are touched (you’ll be amazed how quickly kids will forget about the screens when they’re playing outside).

  • Find the freebies: Your local parks, botanical gardens, springs, and lakes offer plenty of free outdoor fun.

  • Merry nature with digital fun: Pokémon Go and Geocaching are both great options.

  • Camp in your backyard or local state park.

Richard Louv coined the term “Nature-Deficit Disorder.” He points to the growing mountain of studies on nature’s effects on our mental and emotional well-being:

Nature is not only nice to have, but it’s a have-to-have for physical health and cognitive functioning.
— Richard Louv

Reflect

  • Do a quick online inventory: What are the free or cheap parks, springs, playgrounds, hiking trails, etc. in your area?

  • Talk with your family and friends: What’s one new outdoor activity you can weave into your time together?

  • How can you disrupt your indoor time at work? Find a colleague and make a plan for some outside lunches or walks.


4. Find delight. Play hard.

 

Think of this as the magic time to yourself and with those you love. It’s the resistance to the endless call of your social feeds and our over-the-top hustle culture.

Resist

Our digital worlds are amazing for connecting. But, they also act as a blackhole. Venture too close to the event horizon, and—

Bloop.

You’ve lost two hours to cute dog fails on YouTube.

When you feel yourself slipping into that digital trance or feeling stressed, it’s time to find some delight

And one of the best ways to feel human again is to play hard.

Not Just for the Kids

An all-work-no-play culture dominates the professional realm. But McGonigal argues it’s a “state of play we should cultivate,” to think like a game designer and build “meaningful quests” into our work life.

Our whole lives we are taught the opposite of play is work. But in reality the opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression.
— Jane McGonigal, Ph.D.

Research shows play is important for adults too. It’s a “powerful catalyst—for discovery, for problem-solving, and for innovation.”

So, why do we neglect play in our adult lives? We’re probably too busy. We get caught up in our daily to-do list.

Download this resource as a free ebook with bonus content and journaling space! Click here or the image above for the download link.

Finding Delight

But, what does play look like for adults? 

Dr. Stuart Brown, who leads the National Institute for Play, describes play as “something done for its own sake…It's voluntary, it's pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome."

So, what brings you delight? 

What helps you lose yourself, feel engaged, and increase joy?

What’s something you enjoy, just for the sake of doing it?

Staying Social

Playing is a vehicle for connection. This is why the best leaders use team building games and silliness during long meetings.

It’s why adults love board game nights and—some—bowling leagues.

Who’s a group of people who get you? Who’s someone you miss hanging with?

In the context of friendship, a meandering conversation with someone you love may be all you need for “play.” 

Keeping Delight

Play doesn’t have to be complex. It’s something simple and life-giving. Those around you also benefit from your state of play. When mistakes or conflict happen, a state of play can help with repairing connection and bring much-needed levity.

Life is short. If you’re feeling drained or “stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread,” then take Bilbo Baggins’s lead: Have an adventure and discover delight.

Reflect

  • How can you increase moments of delight during your day? 

  • Think about your family and colleagues. How can you swoop them into silliness and fun?

  • How could a default towards play alleviate stress with others?


5. Encouragement > Argument

 

So, this is a tough topic. Not that anyone feels encouragement is a bad thing, but I think it’s the word “argument” we may disagree on...ironically. 😜

Good and Bad Argument

Now, Socratic-style argumentation is fine: You listen to others’ opinions, marinate on them, and follow-up with more questions—all in an effort to sharpen one another.

Then there’s what we see on social media feeds. The kind of arguments you’ll find beneath political articles. 

Compromise, evidence, and discussion mark the first kind of argument. Anger, insults, and outbursts mark the latter.

Argument can be healthy. It’s how we resolve issues. But it can also damage. So, as we talk about the role of encouragement vs. argument, we are emphasizing the productive over the harmful.

Lean towards Encouragement

You’re a digital citizen whether you like it or not. We all are. Whether through text, email, or social media, we all affect each other online.

Our words can offer hope and courage for those around us. Especially those friends you may disagree with on some issues. Again, healthy argumentation is necessary. But, there’s power in erring towards encouragement first.

So, what does encouragement look like in our digital lives? How can we drift from toxic arguments and closer to helping others?

SIT AT A DIFFERENT TABLE

Remember the awkward middle school cafeteria? There was always that one kid who sat alone.

On social media—and in real life—find those people, the ones with good hearts but aren’t with the “in” crowd. Be a friendship-seeking missile. 

It doesn’t mean you abandon your tribe. Instead, you get to broaden your circle, swallowing-up some of the forgotten with new friendship. On social media, you could comment and interact with some of their posts.

It will make their day—and yours.

Be a friendship-seeking missile. 

By seeking-out people, you engage your empathy more than reactive anger. And this benefits all parties involved. Often deeper discussion happens after connection through encouragement.

TAKE A BREATHER

If you find yourself getting heated….

Step back and pause.

Will engaging with that post help others? Will it change minds? Is it helpful and kind?

Like our words face-to-face, once they’re out there on social media, they’re hard to take back. Yes, we can delete posts, tweets, and comments. But, the damage can be done quickly. 

Defaulting to encouragement lets you reflect before responding.

It’s not to say we should never argue. Advocating and standing-up for justice and what’s right is something we should always do. But, what’s right for people is often kindness first.

What you hope for is the flourishing and well-being of others, and encouragement is the stronger path to reach that end.

Reflect

  • What’s your biggest trigger for reactive anger and online argument?

  • What’s an easy way to remind yourself to pause and reflect before responding?

  • Who’s someone in your circle of influence that needs encouragement right now?

  • Who’s someone close to you that you strongly disagree with? How could encouragement build roads to stronger dialogue with them?


6. Break the Comparison Trap

 

Our social media feeds are a never-ending, tantalizing buffet. The stream of images can provoke any one of us to feel left out or less-than. 

Health journalist, Rebecca Webber, covered this “comparison trap” for Psychology Today (worth a full read!). She offers a balanced look at the issue: Some comparison is okay when it provokes inspiration, empathy, or connection. But, if we survive on others’ opinions of ourselves—for good or for bad—it can cause “depression.”

…the advent of social media—a turbo-charged, precision instrument for social comparison unlike anything in human history.

— Rebecca Webber, Psychology Today

Webber illustrates how the comparison trap works:

So if you're walking down the street and a super fit 20-something jogs by, you might instantly assess that, by comparison, you're out of shape. Then you may note that you're at least two decades older than the jogger and juggling the care of twin toddlers with a full-time job. You recall that you don't have the same metabolism or time for exercise. It's apples to string beans. The negative comparison stings less than if you were looking at another working parent.

These unbalanced comparisons can create social anxiety and deplete our self-esteem.

Thankfully, there are some ways you can break the comparison trap:

1. Rejoice with those who Rejoice

Find ways to celebrate others when they succeed. Instead of viewing their success as your loss, encourage them along the way.

When you look for moments to encourage and help people, it disrupts your natural tendency to compare and contrast. This mindset shift could potentially dismantle the stress you feel on social media.

Overall, the more you pour into others, you’ll find reciprocation right around the corner.

2. Weep with those who Weep

Empathy is your weapon against comparison. Instead of desiring to be like that person (or liked by them), reflect on how you can love them. 

This is important, especially when our friends or family are mourning. Whether it’s a lost job, lost loved one, or just a hard day, you can be there for them and listen.

But, if you’re stuck in the comparison cycle, you may miss that opportunity.

By leading with compassion and empathy, it helps you put others first. And in your times of need, they will be more likely to return the compassion.

3. Scroll Intentionally

Maybe the comparison trap is a tough issue for you right now. You may need some digital boundaries while you regain your footing. These could include…

  • Taking a break—or fast—from your most notorious social app for a week.

  • Responding with encouragement, rather than envy. When that new profile shot pops-up, like it and cheer them on.

  • Moving on. If you see a post coming which will trigger that comparison trap, then keep on scrolling.

  • Changing your setup. If you find your standard iPhone or Android offers too many avenues for distraction and comparison, try an alternative designed for your well-being.

Next Steps for Living Fully

Hanging in the comparison cycle will eat away at your self esteem. And leaving it takes proactive—and well worth it—work.

Webber agrees:

Ultimately, the greatest protection against falling into the comparison trap—and the best way to pull yourself out of it—is to develop and maintain a stable sense of self. That means cultivating your identity and self-esteem, nourishing relationships with people who see the real you, and staying attuned to your truest beliefs.

Reflect

To take your next step, visualize a day on social media without falling into the comparison trap.... 

  • What would this look like for you? 

  • How could you make opportunities to connect and to care for others?

  • How would this affect your emotional and mental well-being if you were to avoid the comparison trap?

  • When you do fall into it, what’s something you could say to yourself for encouragement?


7. Use my Keyboard for the Good of Others

 

Have you ever made the mistake of reading the comments beneath a political news article on social media?

The comments of others are enough to make you lose faith in humanity—or at least make you pull your hair out.

Then there’s public comments to your posts and others. Without being able to hear your friends’ voices, tone is lost. Meaning can be missed. Tempers can flair.

Since you can’t change people’s behavior, what can you do to use your keyboard for the good of humanity?

1. Be Genuine

Ever received one of those passive-aggressive compliments? You know, the type of “encouragement” laced with subtle insult?

No one likes them. 

One way to avoid sounding insincere or insulting is to ground your encouragement in authenticity.

Before typing or sharing your encouragement, pause and think: 

What do they need to hear? 

What’s something about them I genuinely appreciate?

How do they make a difference?

Pinpoint something lovely about them. Then, pivot to encouragement. 

Empathy fuels connection
— Dr. Brené Brown

The great thing about this approach is it takes the pressure off of performance. You don’t need to worry about producing the most well-crafted compliment or fabricated response. 

By being genuine and empathizing, your encouragement will be natural. Plus, it lessens the likelihood your friend will take a remark the wrong way.

2. Engage in Dialogue, not Combat

Will your words on social media change hearts and minds? 

Maybe, but not likely.

The Pew Research Center found only 23% of Americans changed their perspectives after reading social content from others. This means the vast majority of Americans do not budge on their positions—at least not right away.

Think about the last time you had a verbal disagreement with a friend or loved one. Did they yell at you or talk you through it? What would you respond better to?

As a kid you probably hated being yelled at by parents and teachers. Even if they were right, you probably shut down. Research has shown that calm and caring interactions with caregivers promote stronger connections

This applies to our adult interactions as well. 

Are you friends with people who yell at you on social media? Probably not. Do you comment and reciprocate on people’s posts who are inflammatory, violent, or angry? Doubtful.

So, the best way to model caring interaction is through dialogue

Yelling erects a power structure over people, while dialogue helps deescalate. It also engages critical thinking. Most importantly, dialogue recognizes the person you’re speaking to as an equal.

3. Advocate for Others

If you’re scrolling with compassion, you will notice others’ needs. You may feel fatigued and overwhelmed by the need out there. So, how can you make a difference with your keyboard?

First, it’s okay to step in. We need each other. 

The Center for Community Health and Development from the University of Kansas emphasizes some key qualities of social media advocacy. They note it’s not about making yourself sound right, but helping “people connect with your goal.” 

So, in your advocacy and defense of people, what can you do to “empower others” over time? How can you get them on your side and to see your perspective? 

Also, with so much need around you, you will become fatigued. One specialist recommends:

Instead of feeling daunted by so many crises in the world, choose one or two priorities where you want to have an impact…You can use your personal efforts, voice, or money to contribute to a meaningful goal.
— Arianna Gallagher, Ohio State University’s Stress, Trauma, and Resilience Program

Advocate for those around you, dialogue with others, and lead by firm compassion.

4. Take a Break from the Keyboard

One last suggestion: Break away from social media and the news at least once a day. 

With the endless news cycle, you will become exhausted following the world. One journalist calls this “crisis fatigue.”

The same applies to an always-on social media life: Between the comparison trap, presenting a “perfect” reality, and getting sucked into feeds, social media is draining

So, remember to step away from your keyboard for a day (or week). Whatever it takes to recharge. Remember…

  • An empty cup needs refilling. 

  • A long day of work needs rest. 

  • A busy mind needs—you guessed it. Netflix.

Take some time for yourself and with your loved ones. Recharge. Sleep well. 

We need you at your best, so you can use that keyboard for the good of others.

Reflect

  • Who’s someone online that engages others with humility and heart?

  • How can you mirror some of that?

  • Think about a cause, issue, or person you have a hard time not getting frustrated with? How can you channel that frustration into empowerment and help for others?


8. Leave a Book by my Bed Instead

 

Simple. 

Calming.

Non-threatening.

Books are our friends. They invite us into new worlds, engaging the best parts of your imagination. Studies show books help you relax and increase your quality of sleep. 

But, what about your phone?

Your Phone is the Enemy of Sleep

The Sleep Foundation recommends to stop using screens “at least 30 minutes before bedtime” for several reasons…

  • Blue light emissions from your phone tricks your brain to think it’s daytime, causing restlessness.

  • Anxiety and stress, huge factors for poor sleep quality, are caused by phone use. If you’re checking social media and email until midnight, you’re not allowing your brain to relax.

  • Interruptions from your phone. If your phone is on your nightstand, updates, messages, and notifications will halt your sleeping patterns.

This issue is so widespread, some recommend leaving your phone in a different room all together. For those who don’t have phone lines anymore, this may cause anxiety. A nice compromise could be leaving your phone on a dresser further away.

The conclusion on using your phone right before bedtime: Nix it.

So, Why a Book?

Reading a book right before bed has tremendous benefits. In a study by the University of Sussex, they found reading lowered stress by 68%—more than listening to music or going for a walk.

Why is that? 

Well, Dr. Lewis from the study explains, “Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation.”

Not only is it an escape for your mind, reading also has physiological benefits:

  • Decreases heart rate.

  • Calms anxious thinking.

  • Instills a pattern in your sleep habits.

  • Relaxes your body muscles.

And it doesn’t take reading a tome like War and Peace to relax yourself. The study found reading decreased stress and relaxed the body within 6 minutes. What other activity gives you that kind of return-on-investment to encourage healthy sleep habits?

That means you can get away with reading a short story, your latest Kindle download, or poetry. While your phone screen will increase alertness, reading something printed will help you relax into sleep.

A good night’s rest is crucial to your mind and body. If replacing your phone with a book at night can make a measurable difference, it’s worth the switch.

The Book Challenge

Take this three-night challenge, and see how it helps: 

  1. Stop using screens 30 minutes before bedtime.

  2. Replace your phone with a book tonight.

  3. Leave your phone in “Do Not Disturb” far away or in another room.

  4. Get lost in your book. Enjoy it. End your day in pleasure and relaxation.

  5. Need lighting? Use a good-ol’ book light or an e-ink device with built in light (avoid the phone screen).

After trying it out for three days….

Reflect

  • Did you notice a difference? 

  • Did you feel more rested when you wake up?

  • How did reading before affect your mood the next day?

  • Do you feel reading before bed is a habit you’d like to continue?


9. Look up, and Live…

 

There’s this fascinating and heartbreaking study from Dr. Edward Tronic from Harvard called the “Still Face Experiment.” In it he has a caregiver interact lovingly with a baby through facial expression, talking, touching, and all the things parents do.

But then, after a couple of minutes, the parent turns her face off. She becomes still and unresponsive. 

The baby notices. She squirms. Tries to get mom to engage. Eventually, she breaks down and cries. 

Humans are born ready for connection.
— Mary Gregory, Clinical Psychologist

Thankfully, the study ends with the parent reconnecting and engaging with the child. The transformation is instant: Smiles, playfulness, and the give-and-take of connection returns.

Something’s got Your Attention

Now, apply the Still Face Experiment to everyday interactions. Something is stealing your attention and depleting your connections with fellow humans.

Our smartphones are the culprit. And it’s not their fault entirely—we’ve permitted their pervasiveness.

The American Psychological Association researched the effects of constant tech interruptions on close relationships, especially romantic ones. They found couples “reported more conflict over technology use, lower relationship satisfaction, more depressive symptoms, and lower life satisfaction.”

Wow.

They coined this interruption of connection as technoference.” 

At Techless, we believe technology is a gift. Phones, when used as a tool, can benefit our lives. But, we’re witnessing a pandemic of disjointed connection from technoference.

A Technoference Story

For instance, one mother and writer shares her struggle with technoference while hanging with her family at Disney World. She witnessed most of the parents checking-out, starting at their phones, and ignoring their kids while waiting in line. 

Please know she didn’t come across as judgmental. Her observations were filled with compassion and concern:

Of the parents sitting and standing among us, I’d say about 75%, were not connected or even speaking to one another. Looking down at their phones, they seemed to have missed that magical moment when two partners look at each other, and despite their intense exhaustion, know that the joy radiating from their children has made it all worthwhile. Looking back on past trips, I know that I’ve done the same.

So, in the moment, she found creative ways to connect, to be silly, and to pass the time. She didn’t demonize phones; instead, she knew people needed to come first in that moment.

And technoference would also apply to our personal selves. Think about the moments you’ve missed to enjoy nature, a book, or being still. We can all look back and see the power we’ve given our phones to steal our attention and focus.

Looking up to Live

Your family and friends long for connection with you. Your mental health screams for a break. So, how can you look up from your phone and reconnect? 

Here are some easy suggestions to increase connection with others and with yourself….

1. PRIORITIZE MEALS

Whether with a significant other, family, or besties, make meals count. Leave phones face down, in pockets, or in an agreed-upon location.

Talk, laugh, and enjoy the time together. Meals are the universal language of connection and hospitality. They promote talking and good times. 

You’re going to have busy nights where a sit down meal may not be possible, but it’s okay. Shoot for the next night.

2. KEEP YOUR FREE TIME…FREE

We often fill our free time with phone time. When you have a night off (or day), fill it with activities you and your family love. 

Instead of losing the day to endless scrolling, get lost in activities that promote connection and well-being.

3. RECIPROCATE

Reciprocation is responding with equal attention or action. It shows empathy and develops connection.

When your friends, spouse, or kids engage you, reciprocate. Engage back. If you truly are doing something pressing on your phone, let them know and say, “Hey, give me two seconds to finish ____ and I’ll be right there.” The quick acknowledgment honors the person and incentivizes you to finish your task.

When someone engages you in conversation, talk with them. Look up and listen. When your son invites you to play, dive in with a childlike spirit.

Believe me, this is hard. We all stare at our screens to fill downtime. It’s going to take intentional practice to make change. But, our time is our most precious commodity. When we are generous with it, it shows our love for others.

Now, there are times when you have to check your phone for something important, so that’s where boundaries come into play.

4. SET PHONE BOUNDARIES

When are those key times your family needs you the most? When are key times you need to relax and be still for yourself?

Set some clear boundaries and phone-free zones in your life. Whether meals, mornings, or conversations, pick those important life moments you know your phone will create technoference.

Likewise, set aside time to use your phone for checking email, getting quick social updates, etc. That way, you don’t feel the need to constantly check your phone for updates. 

Plus, it removes guilt and distraction. If you know you have X minutes set aside for your phone, you will spend that time more wisely on social media or email. By avoiding the two hour YouTube rabbit hole, you will avoid guilt over lost time.

We’re not arguing to ban all screen time. That’s rigid and unnecessary. Instead, we want to see you living fully.

Connecting.

Enjoying who and what matters most.

And the most important step is to look up and live. There’s a beautiful world around you with people who long to connect with you.

Reflect

  • When are you most glued to your phone screen?

  • How many minutes per day do you think it would take to check your email and social media and then get off?

  • Who would appreciate more of your time and attention?

  • What are your next steps to build healthy habits for digital well-being?

Other Helpful Resources 👇

Sometimes, it takes more than changing our phone habits.

Here’s a small collection of resources on mental health and digital well-being to help you on the journey…

  • Mental health resources for Hispanic Americans. (en Español) is loaded with resources to support the well-being of our Hispanic community.

  • Wait Until 8th, a movement that “empowers parents to rally together to delay giving children a smartphone until 8th grade.”

  • Fight the New Drug blends research and engaging content to educate the world on the harms of pornography, while at the same time elevating each person’s dignity.

  • Emojify.com explores how “emotion recognition technology” may be overstepping its bounds on your tech.


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