Go to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, wait in line at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) or Quicken Loans Arena, or go just about anywhere else, and you are bound to see a significant number of people with their faces buried in their mobile devices. While constant connectivity provides convenience and helps pass the time, many people are also spending time on their phones when they could (and, many experts would say, should) be spending time with their families.
Of course, people do not just use their smartphones when they are out in public. When it comes to staying connected (or reconnecting) with spouses and children, more and more frequently, mobile devices are getting in the way at the dining room table, in the car, and in the bedroom. According to data from the Pew Research Center published in 2015, nearly half of all smartphone owners say, “they couldn’t live without,” their phones. A study reported by Today.com also found that:
- More than 70 percent of adults studied used their phones during meals with their children;
- More than 50 percent of children think their parents use their phones too often; and,
- Nearly one in three children say they, “feel ‘unimportant’ when their parents get distracted by their phones.”
High rates of social media use on smartphones have also been linked to increased rates of divorce. Another study similarly found that spouses’ inability to unplug was leading to, “significant disrupt[ions] in their relationships, couplehood, and family lives.”
Connectivity: The Conversation (and Relationship) Killer
In short, the issue with constant connectivity is that it means entertainment and status updates are replacing family communications. Where spouses, parents, and children used to spend time talking to one another, now they are spending time watching videos, checking up on friends, and texting or direct-messaging with online acquaintances. Not only does this lead to a lack of meaningful conversation; but, in many cases, it can also lead to feelings of isolation, jealousy, and lack of intimacy.
All of this points to the reason behind the study results cited above: While mobile devices keep us connected with the outside world, too often they get in the way of truly connecting with family. We like our phones because they make life easy; but, in the most important aspects of our lives, the reality is that they often do more harm than good.
How Can You Help Your Family (and Yourself) Unplug?
So, how can you help your spouse, your children, and yourself pull the plug during family time? Today.com offers this expert advice:
- Figure out which triggers (i.e. phone calls, text messages, or social media notifications) are most distracting to you, and make it a point not to respond during family time.
- Pay special attention to your children’s (and spouse’s) bids for attention. Know when they want to interact and do not let your smartphone get in the way.
- Schedule no-phone family time. This could include meals, car rides, and special outings to go to the park or get ice cream.
- Schedule time to check your phone. For example, check when you wake up and when you get home from work; but, do not carry your phone around constantly, and do not bring it to bed. If you can, unplug after work entirely.
Laubacher & Co. | Divorce and Family Lawyers in Cleveland, OH
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