One of the biggest complaints I hear from my family is that I spend too much time on my phone or other electronic devices when I am supposed to doing something else. It is hard to focus on just one thing. My children notice that I am only half listening to them. They tell me things and I forget them. They are especially concerned when I am babysitting my grandchildren. They actually want me to give the grandchildren 100% of my attention whenever I am with them. 100%. What a concept. Is this even possible to do???? I try, but sometimes it makes my brain hurt.
I think I am paying attention, but apparently my PD brain has gone wandering. I need that electronic fix. If I understood correctly, my doctor said that checking your email actually gives you a Dopamine rush. It may be minute, but it certainly can be addictive when your dopamine levels are low. Because of that, reducing electronic device time might even be harder than trying to lose weight.
So here goes. 10 suggestions for losing the cell phone addiction and paying more attention to everything else.
- Set limits for yourself. You may have to wean yourself off slowly to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Side effects may include extreme crankiness.
- Play real games with your friends, children or grandchildren. Do you still have board games or decks of cards from the dark ages? Dust them off and let the games begin. Put your cell phone away while you play.
- Stop texting. It makes so much more sense to me to pick up the phone and talk to someone. I miss the personal contact. Besides, it is annoying when you are trying to do something and the phone keeps dinging with new texts. Now that really disrupts my concentration. Doesn’t the other person have anything better to do?
- Delete the games you love so much. Why is it so much easier to focus on the games than on everything else?
- Check your phone at the door when you go somewhere. Make it hard to keep checking for messages.
- Give your phone/iPad to your grandchild to watch videos when his parents are not looking. At least you are not the one playing with it. Besides, it can be quality time with your grandchildren. Their parents don’t allow screen time? They grew up watching Scooby Doo and turned out ok. Or did they?
- Find some other activity that your family hates to see you doing even more than playing with your phone. I am not sure what that could be, but there must be something more evil out there. Then your phone addiction won’t seem so bad.
- Explain to themthat certain PD drugs can cause addicitive behaviors, including excessive gambling, game playing or shopping. There are plenty of studies to back you up on this. What is more acceptible – gambling or too much phone time?
- Leave your phone at home. Occasionally I forget my phone when I leave the house. It can be liberating to be out without it.
- When your children complain that they were worried about you because they couldn’t reach you, just smile and say “I had a cell-phone free day. And it was wonderful. And by the way, why do YOU spend so much time on your phone?”