A woman lies in bed and looks at her cell phone instead of sleeping

Tech & Media

I Let My Cellphone Distract Me From My Family, But I’m Done With That Now

Mar 13, 2018

The first step is admitting you have a problem. I knew my phone dependency had gotten out of control when my tween daughter asked me one day, “Are you what they called glued to your phone?”

Of course I was completely transfixed by my cell at that time. The truth is I have become addicted to this little device that was purchased to make my life oh so much more convenient. Instead, it’s proven to be an enormous time suck that I just can’t seem to escape.

Relevant Reading: Why I Want My Child to Have All the Screen Time He Needs

The funny thing is that I never even wanted a cellphone. I was anything but an early adopter when it came to all things wireless. I mean let’s face it, who really wants to be reachable anytime, anywhere? Not me. I had no interest in giving up my freedom to be to be tracked down whenever somebody felt they wanted to talk to me.

But then I got a phone as a gift. And of course, it was time to join the 21st century, especially after having my kid. So when I felt like I needed to have access to a phone, I brought it with me. And when I wanted to be left alone, I intentionally left it behind in a drawer drained of its battery. Now that’s convenience.

But then, enter the smartphone. This, combined with the advent of social media, is where things went off the rails for me. I distinctly remember the first night after buying my brand-spanking-new iPhone. I stayed up late playing with all its bells and whistles, marveling at how the weather, my email and how the whole world was now literally at my fingertips. How on Earth had I gone so long without one?

"My husband thinks I pay more attention to my phone than to him — and he’s right. I’ve developed 'text neck' and poor posture as a result of constantly looking down at my device. I catch myself glancing at my phone when my daughter is trying to talk to me."

That was probably seven years ago. Now my phone is never out of my sight. It has become my constant companion, incessantly and irretrievably weaving its way into my life. I find myself reaching for it, even when I’m talking on it. In short, I’ve grown totally obsessed.

So what’s wrong with being a smartphone junkie? Apparently lots. Recent research suggests that cell phone addiction is actually altering our brains. The reports have found that too much phone use shrinks our grey matter, reducing our capacity to concentrate as well as harming our overall emotional wellbeing. The impact this may have on children who’ve been interacting with phones since birth is truly frightening.

I don’t need a study to know that my device is having some pretty negative consequences on my life. Here are a few of them:

My concentration to read anything longer than a few paragraphs is kaput. It took my Wi-Fi dying to finally get into the book I had been trying to read for months. Time is moving fast. I swear that since I got my phone, hours have slipped into minutes and I’m pretty sure I lost a few years of my life mindlessly staring at my cell.

Relevant Reading: How to Set Screen Time Rules That Work

My husband thinks I pay more attention to my phone than to him — and he’s right. I’ve developed “text neck” and poor posture as a result of constantly looking down at my device. I catch myself glancing at my phone when my daughter is trying to talk to me.

I’m not proud of letting this little screen interrupt my life to this degree. But I’m determined to reverse course and find a relationship with my phone that feels less toxic. I’ll start with disabling my phone notifications, removing social media and banishing my cell from my bedroom.

And then I’ll head outside and take a walk. But I’ll leave my headphones behind. The journey will seem longer. And that’s just fine.

Article Author Laura Mullin
Laura Mullin

Read more from Laura here.

Laura Mullin is a published playwright and writer and the Co-Artistic Director of the award-winning company, Expect Theatre. She is also the Co-Host and Producer of PlayME, a podcast that transforms plays into audio dramas now on CBC. She has worked in theatre, film, and television and lives in Toronto with her writer/producer husband and pre-teen daughter. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @expectlaura.

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