By Jodi Milner

Jodi Milner author/bio pic

When was the last time you spent time alone with another person without the interference of a cellphone or some other form of screen? Think about it. Ever since the widespread adoption of smartphones, we’ve had the world at our fingertips. We search for everything under the sun ranging from the best kid-friendly 20-minute dinners to how to easily give a cat its medicine. Even when we don’t have a problem to solve, we find ourselves scrolling through page after page of other people’s lives while we ignore our own. 

It’s hurting our relationships. Our spouses, kids, and friends now have to compete for our attention when we feel compelled to check that notification, answer that text, or beat that next level of Candy Crush. Studies have shown that even having our phones in the same room reduces the satisfaction of having a conversation with someone else. 

Embrace time away from the screen

Smartphones are not going away. If anything, they are becoming more specialized tools to help us with every aspect of our lives from organizing our to-do lists to communicating with business groups. We can’t live without them. But – we can take a break from them. 

Moments like these are what people remember, so make them happen, and make them special.

Everyone appreciates quality time. If you want to build stronger relationships, make a point to schedule activities where phones and other distractions are put away. These activities don’t have to be complicated or expensive. Often it’s as easy as taking a walk together, or my favorite, making cookies. Family board game night or a movie night are also good choices. Moments like these are what people remember, so make them happen, and make them special.

Quality time for good mental health

Between the uncertainty of COVID, increased social pressure, and just plain old growing up, one of my kids was struggling with finding meaning and purpose in their life. They wanted to be happy, but they were also blessed/cursed with an incredibly active brain. They found reasons that the world was an awful place in any situation and there was nothing anyone could do about it. 

We considered therapy, but we’d gone down that route before and weren’t eager to get the same tired advice over and over again. Instead, we started creating positive pockets of time where were put away our phones and spent quality one-on-one time together. Is that going to solve everything? No. But, it’s going to reinforce how much we love and care for this kid and give them as many positive tools to help look on the brighter side of things as we possibly can.

Discussion: What’s your favorite phone-free activity?

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