Tech Tip 5
Christmas of 1988. Dan and I were up at the Cook family cabin celebrating Christmas with Dan’s family.
Two important things happened that Christmas that remind me of how things have changed in 28 years. The first thing was that we announced to our family that we were expecting our first child. How did we announce it? We put little envelopes under the tree, one for each family member, that were all opened at the same time. On the notes inside, all we said was “Merry Christmas, Grandma!” or “Merry Christmas, Aunt Cammy!” We watched as the light bulbs went on in people’s eyes when they realized that the first grandchild was on her way!
The second thing that happened was that Dan’s grandfather died. There was no phone at the cabin. We had no cell phones. The sheriff had been notified and made his way to the cabin to inform us of the news.
Why do I share these two events? For me they are reminders that I miss face to face communication and being able to watch people’s reactions to exciting news; in addition, I’m reminded that if an emergency occurs, even if I am unplugged, someone will notify me. I have been deceived into thinking that I must communicate every detail of my life to my 589 Facebook friends or that an emergency might occur at any time and I would need to know immediately.
If really think about it, both of these mindsets keep me on “high alert” at all times with my cell phone or Facebook account accessible within seconds. What if we allowed ourselves to relax by creating “tech-free zones” and come to realize that life right now, at the moment, is worth focusing our attention on?
So what’s a “tech-free zone”? These are places, times, or activities that we intentionally put our technology away so it doesn’t distract us from more important things in life and maybe helps us relax in the moment rather than stay in “high alert” all the time.
Here are some ideas:
- Make bedrooms “tech-free”. Make bedrooms the place of unwinding and sleeping and for married couples, romance.
- Designate a tech-free room and use that room for reading, playing board games, taking a nap, making music – but no devices are allowed!
- Car – Minimize tech use during car rides. Instead, talk, sing together, or play travel games.
- Put technology to bed and spend the last hour or so of your evening as a “tech-free zone”. By putting technology to bed before you go to bed, it gives your brain a chance to unwind. Studies show that the light emitted by devices inhibits melatonin. Melatonin helps you sleep. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26215007)
- Tech-free game nights. Agree to play games together with cell phones and other devices in a different room.
- Stay tech-free for an hour after you get up in the morning. Start your day in the Word, drinking a cup of coffee, reading a book, enjoying the sunrise, etc. Resist the urge to look at a device first thing in the morning.
- Holidays or days off. Enjoy Christmas! Be present at the celebration rather than concerned with communicating the fun on social media.
- Meals at home and at restaurants could be eaten with all devices off and placed in another room, in a purse or left in the car.
- Go on walks making sure that your phone is only used in case of an emergency. Look around. Enjoy the scenery. Wave at people as you walk past.
- Play with your kids with your device out of reach. Make sure that your children know that they are your top priority in that moment, not a text from someone else.
The above list contains ideas, but you know your situation best. I think the most important thing is to be intentional about choosing times, places, and activities where you are free from technology so that you can focus on those around you, on personal refreshment, and on your relationship with the Lord.