Could you spend one weekend without your phone? Few people could, because our time on our phones has been increasing significantly every year since the smart phone was invented in 2007. Technology has made our lives better in many ways, but in the same breath it has taken a toll on our relationships, our mental well-being, and our time. Usually, we will not make changes that could benefit our lives unless we realize the negative impact our bad habits have on us.

Are you ready to take an honest assessment of your tech habits so you can instead spend time you might have wasted mindlessly scrolling online to investing in authentic physical relationships?

First, you have to understand you’re not alone. Here are some crazy statistics on just how invasive these small devices have been on our lives.

  • The average internet user spends 2.25 hours a day on social media platforms.
  • We check phones around 150 times a day, and few of us can’t go longer than 10 minutes without checking our phones, whether we’ve received a notification or not.
  • American adults spend more than 10-hours per day watching, reading, listening to or simply interacting with media, according to a new study by market-research group Nielsen.
  • Only half of us can admit to making a meaningful connection with a real life person on any given day.
  • Studies show most people actually spend double-the-time on technology then what they think they do.
  • Tech addiction is NOT an accident, there are thousands of programmers whose sole purpose is to keep us addicted.

That last point listed was a shock to me when I first found this out. Our addiction is being fed and reinforced by app programmers and social media engineers. It’s no wonder we’re spending so much time on our devices.  The more time we spend online, the more money they make, and our attention is the product being sold. On top of that, this next generation is growing up embracing an unhealthy relationship with technology that has been ingrained in them since childhood — and they view it as perfectly normal.

However, our overdependence on technology is neither healthy nor normal.

The people I speak with during our technology-free experiences come to our events with a desire to break away from their cell phone co-dependence. But usually, it’s only after they discover the value of re-connecting with others, with nature, and, ultimately, with themselves that they understand how enslaved by their devices they’d become. When they leave our weekend experiences, they are committed to establishing a balanced, healthier relationship with technology in their lives. We equip them with practical ways to use technology as a tool, rather than as a replacement for life’s meaningful connections that they’ve unintentionally been sacrificing.

The question now is, what steps can you take to forge a healthier relationship with tech?

The first step is to candidly assess your relationship with your devices. For a week, monitor how many times you reach for your phone and engage with its screen. There are apps for this, but it’s more effective when you monitor your usage manually, in a journal, because you can see your progress and growth over time. You’ll probably be shocked by what you find, many people have been.

Now that you have a baseline, work on ways to cut down on your screen time. This can be done any number of ways, but here are a few tips.

  • Place your phone across the room and turn off notifications. This way it takes a real effort to check your phone
  • Don’t sleep in the same room as your phone and limit screen time before going to sleep.  Ultimately, you want to avoid exposure to any screens that produce a sleep disrupting blue glare, at least an hour before you call it a night.
  • Challenge yourself to have longer periods of time without checking your phone. Eventually we encourage people to work this up to a full weekend without their phone, in order to be fully present to the world around them.
  • In the meantime, you can start practicing digital minimalism and ramp up your people skills. Make “coffee dates” to see friends, face-to-face to catch up.
  • Bring nature back into your life, by taking walks, hikes or simply finding a quiet spot to spend a few moments in contemplation.
  • Consider joining a group of like-minded people, who would prefer engaging in person rather than staring at a cold, sterile, electronic device.
  • Embrace JOMO — the joy of missing out — on all the noise and distractions that are online in order to begin experiencing a world where you contribute and grow.

Remember, it’s never too late to implement healthy tech habits – and the best way to share it with others is by setting the exampleyourself. Here’s to TECH-FREE FREEDOM!