Facing The Truth Of My Own Tech-Addiction
When I caught the advance notice that Amanda was going to be putting together a “7-Day Technology Detox”, I knew I had to get in on this! I didn’t even know the details yet and I was ALL IN. As a new homeschool-blogger, and self-confessed tech junkie, I have been spending more time than usual with my face in a screen and my phone in my hand. It’s been an issue I have known I struggle with now for some time, and has been on my mind. When I was asked to participate and do the challenge and then write about it, I knew this was the perfect challenge at the perfect time.
So this is my story of how I failed a technology detox challenge.
My Tech-Addiction Story
Long before I decided to take up blogging, I had already developed an issue with spending too much time on my laptop and iPhone. In addition to being a homeschooling mama to 2 elementary-aged kids, I worked in a direct sales business – which meant I was always messaging, networking, advertising, and working my business. And when I wasn’t doing that, I was chatting with homeschool mommas on Facebook groups, message forums, and email lists. My face was always in a screen of some sort – and my family was paying the price.
I knew I was unbalanced in my work/life/homeschool balance – so I let go of my side business, and committed to focusing on my relationships with my kids and their homeschooling. And then I decided to start a blog, where I write about homeschooling and life, and still – I was constantly feeling like I had to be on a device of some sort. All – the – time.
One day, while working with my daughter on her math lessons, I had picked up my phone to aimlessly scroll through my Facebook feed the way I do without even thinking about it. My daughter sighed, put her pencil down, looked at me and said:
“Mommy, I wish Facebook was never ever invented. I wish I could just make it disappear.” I asked her why she said that all of a sudden, to which she replied: “Because you like it more than you like me, and I never see you”.
Do you hear that? Yeah. That’s the sound of this mama’s heart shattering. Recalling the look on her face, and the sound of her deep sigh she let out, is bringing me to tears even right now as I type this post.
I began to explain to her that ‘Mommy was working’, ‘Mommy had to keep in touch with people’, ‘Mommy had important things she had to check on’. It sounded hollow and empty, though, because she and I both knew the truth: she was right. I spent far more time with my online network than I did with the people in my own household. Every time I grabbed the phone to scroll through, or said “one second honey mommy is doing something”, I was reinforcing to my children that they were NOT my top priority.
The 7-Day Tech Detox
It was really hard for me to finally admit to myself that this was a real problem. I kept justifying to myself, and to my kids, that all this time on my laptop or smartphone was necessary. I knew it in my heart, though, and I had moments of clarity from time to time where I told myself I am letting these precious moments slip by and what will my kids remember of their childhood? That their Mom was always busy with something else.
I am not one to easily and quickly admit my faults. But I knew this was the time, and this challenge was the PERFECT way to start the process of paring down my time on my devices.
The challenge sounded easy, and hard at the same time. But the best part of this was that we weren’t being nailed down to someone else’s detox plan. We were given daily tasks that we could adjust to our own individual needs. Setting reasonable time limits, ditching apps, and even spending a “cold turkey” day with no screens whatsoever. Amanda came up with a 7 day plan that wasn’t about white-knuckling our way through the week, but more focusing on maintaining reasonable limits and a balanced view of technology time.
This is my journal entry for the first day – these were my limitations I decided on for myself. I was still feeling pretty sure of myself on Day One!
My outlook on this was “I’ve got this in the bag, this is going to be easy-peasy! I’ll do the tasks, write a post about how great it is to be free of technology, and it’ll be great!”
And that, friends, was how I failed this challenge.
The Day I Realized I Was Failing
It was Day Three. Not even half way through the challenge! I wrote in my journal for that day:
“Day three, mid way through the day, and I know now that I’m failing. I did not have a clue how hard this would really be. And how right my kids were – going through a day without ‘just popping on to fb for a minute’ is proving to be much harder than I thought”.
I didn’t take this seriously. I went INTO this challenge thinking both “I know I need this” and “It’s not so bad, I can do this no problem”. I had told my children that I was starting this, and my daughter in particular was SO HAPPY when I told her I was going to delete all my apps and only go on my laptop for work-related time (blog writing, etc). So, halfway through Day Three, when my daughter was watching me grab my phone and I saw the look in her eyes, I knew I hadn’t just failed the day’s task – but I also let her down.
Why couldn’t I just put the phone down? Why couldn’t I just be present with my children, and forget about work and Facebook and Instagram and all of the rest of it? I really don’t have an answer to that. But what I do know is that I have learned a lot about myself through this challenge, and I’ve gained as much as I’ve failed.
What Did I Gain In This Challenge?
I gained a deeper awareness of my own senseless need to have my phone in my hand. I became very conscious of each time I grabbed the phone and started to scroll. So, while I may not have made it through each task without giving in and cheating on the task or letting the task go altogether – I was aware of that. I made a mental note each time I picked the phone up to do something that genuinely needed to be done vs when I grabbed it out of habit and mindlessness.
I gained moments with my children, that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. While I am focusing in this post about the struggles I had, there were also many moments where I did NOT pick up the phone, and instead pushed it away and asked my kids if they wanted to go outside, or play a game, or try something new. I had moments where instead of wasting time on Facebook, I would sit down and be intentional about using the time I alotted myself, to do work or to do homeschool prep.
One moment in particular stands out to me – at the kids’ gymnastics class on Saturday, my daughter did something she was proud of and she glanced my way to see me NOT looking at my phone, but looking at her! The smile she flashed me, and the brightening in her eyes told me that I had got it right in that moment, that I didn’t fail in that moment. I feel a little guilty that the fact that she was so surprised at me actually watching her instead of my phone.
I also gained a new commitment – to my children, to our relationships, and to continuing with this challenge far beyond the 7 days. I may not have succeeded in each daily task, but I am not stopping here. I am continuing to work on wasting less time, but being more intentional with the time I do need to be on a device. I have admitted to my children that this was truly difficult for me, and it wasn’t easy, and it didn’t cure me in 7 days. But it made me aware, and it made me deepen my commitment to changing how I spend my time, and this is just the start of this journey for me.
I am deeply grateful to Amanda for starting this – and I hope that you all give this 7-Day Technology Detox a shot. I know that it’s helped me kickstart some very important, and much needed, changes in my own life.