Are you More Interesting Than Your Family’s Smartphones?

Smartphone distraction

The short answer is no, you are not more interesting than what is on your family’s smartphone. Getting your friends and family to pay attention to you is hard because the entire world is available on that little glass box in their hands. You can see it all around you, or maybe you are guilty yourself. Most people in 2014 would prefer to look at their phones than look at the human being that is right in front of them. It is obvious in restaurants, movie theaters, and family get- togethers. People just can’t tear themselves away from these little gadgets to engage with people that they purportedly care about.

Smartphone distraction

Don’t get me wrong, I love technology and smartphones are a hard thing for me to put down myself, even though I know I need a break now and then. But it is clear to me that as a society we are giving our attention to people and things that will not make a huge difference in our lives. The actual friends and family that should matter the most get ignored so we can check Facebook or like an Instagram photo of someone we will likely never even meet in real life.

I had an elderly lady tell me that her family asks her why she leaves so early from Christmas gatherings. Her response to them was a polite, “nobody even notices I am here. Everyone is more interested in their iphones.” That is a real shame and this lady is an interesting person who has plenty to talk about. But she has a hard time defeating the world inside the little glass box so she can’t enjoy her Christmas time with family since many of them are not truly “present”.

I have the same issue in my home. I have teenage kids and they are constantly on their phones. They are chatting with friends, playing games by themselves, or checking all the various social media platforms. I am bad about being on a computer too long, but I can’t carry it in my pocket so I have to log off eventually. These smartphones are a constant attachment for us all and hard to leave behind. I would hate to think of all the time with family and friends that we miss out on because we are wasting time on our phones. Some time on our mobile devices is for work or productivity but honestly, the time-wasting apps get the majority of our use.

There are ways to overcome the constant attention thieves of the mobile phone world. But they take action on your part to make it happen. If you just sit by and let your family drift off daily to their online world, they will do so. That is the path of least resistance. But if you plan activities that will engage them as a group you can grab their attention and keep it for a while.

Some activities to plan are things that involve physical activity. It is hard to pay much attention to a phone when you are on a two mile run. Hiking is another great option as getting back to nature just naturally makes people want to keep the tech stuff at bay. Walking up a mountain will keep you focused on the next step as opposed to thinking about the drama of Facebook. Even better are water activities like skiing, surfing, or riding wave runners. I am pretty sure your family and friends will not want to risk their precious phones getting destroyed with the water adventures. Use these activities to really enjoy your time together. The best memories are made while having fun. That is obvious.

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. If all else fails and your crew just won’t give up on the smart phone addiction, you have to find a way to join in on what they are doing. If they are playing a certain game, then get involved with it and try to find other popular games that involve multi player options. If a certain social media platform gets all your kids’ attention, then at least be knowledgeable about what goes on there and what they are talking about. You can learn a lot about your kids from what they converse about online and just their “likes” and comments.

We all should do a little better when it comes to paying attention to each other. Apps are awesome. Social media has changed the world. Digital connectivity is tremendous. But we need to stay connected to the physical beings near us as well. Time goes by pretty fast. I don’t think we want to spend every waking moment with our faces glued to a magic hand held glass box that robs us of quality time with friends and family. We must do interesting things to take that quality time back.

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Shane McLendon
Wannabe geek and FLOW Seeker