Going Smartphone-Free

My wife and I made a decision last month to give up our smartphones, and it’s turning out to be one of the best things we’ve ever done.

We bought “old-fashioned” flip phones and changed our Verizon plan to simple “talk and text” plans. My wife sold her iPhone 5s, and I gave up my Android-based phone, too. We ended up cutting roughly $100 a month from our phone bill. And let’s be honest: Who couldn’t use an extra hundred bucks a month?

However, the financial side isn’t the biggest perk. We have small children, but as the days went by we found ourselves drawn more and more to the tiny screens in our hands. It’s so easy to get distracted with all of the information out there and not pay attention to the important things in life.

We were (are?) news junkies. I’ve been hardwired that way, it appears. I’d scroll CNN or Reddit or any number of other sites to get the latest news. Or the latest sports. Or the weather. Or political commentary. Or email. Or Facebook. Or Twitter. Or the Wikipedia wormhole. Or, hey, funny cat pictures! It’s all right there, at your fingertips.

And that’s not necessarily a good thing, at least for me.

I like to think I’m a fairly bright guy, and a pretty good problem-solver. But with that kind of unlimited information on hand, I often get bogged down in processing it all. I zone out.

This past weekend, we traveled to southern Indiana to go to a wedding. The trip was fun. We had to map out our route beforehand, and we made a couple of scenic stops that I don’t think we’d have made had we been using something like Google Maps. But we also saw more of the country, and had more conversations with one another and with the older child. (Since he’s the only one who can talk at the moment.) On our way back, we ran into a huge traffic jam on I-65 South, so we got off the Interstate. We took a hilariously bad wrong turn onto the Western Kentucky Parkway (where there was no exit for literally 10 miles), but ended up finding a restaurant neither of us had ever tried, and we mapped out an alternate route around the traffic congestion while we ate.

Some people would probably consider that a nuisance. And maybe it was. But it’s also a memory, and I don’t think we can have enough of those.

Being without a smartphone allows me to be more engaged in the world around me, I think. I talk to my wife and my kids more. I’m THERE—not lost in a screen. My conversation level has, I think, gone up. I no longer say “Hm?” or “I”m sorry, I wasn’t listening,” every time my wife asks me a question.

I’m not saying that smartphones are evil, or a temptation from de Debbil. I’m not even saying that I’ll never have one again. (Because, hey, I know me.) But for right now, going smartphone-free has been a really great decision for my family, and for me.


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