No Phonewalk

5 Ways I’m Going Device-Free This Summer

Family Featured

I own a crappy flip phone—on purpose.

I know that if I were to purchase a good smartphone of any type, I would be horribly addicted, so my little Nokia emergency phone is the only thing that leaves the house with me.

This doesn’t mean I don’t keep my iPad and laptop with me all the time at home, where I often feel bound to checking my socials, upping my levels on BTS Island so RM can get his yellow hat, and caving to that pushy little Duolingo owl when he tells me I’m “dropping from the promotion zone.” Nooo!

Even without a smartphone, I am bound to the technology, but I know I’m not the only one. I was reading on my tablet about traffic safety around the world (as one does when one can’t sleep at 3 a.m.). I saw in South Korea they have installed lights along the curbs at crosswalks to alert pedestrians looking down at their phones when the light is green. This decision was apparently due to a large number of folk getting hit by cars while looking at their devices instead of where they are going. Great innovation, but a sad reality in most developed nations. We spend way too much time on the phones.

I know we need these devices in many ways, but I also know I look at my tablet and its images too much. This summer I decided to challenge myself on ways to leave my device-watching behind.

Take a book to dinner instead of a phone. You might actually inspire others to read as well. Image: Lisa Tate

Here are five things I do or want to do:

  • Take a book to a restaurant. When we go out to eat, I know teens and college kids don’t always want to have to chime into the parents’ conversations. I let my kids take a book or magazine instead of their devices. We have even gotten comments from the waitstaff on how cool it is to see readers instead of scrollers.
  • Go for walks outside often. I need to get out and walk more for my own health and to keep the dogs content, but we don’t always have to keep the phone with us in familiar neighborhoods. Ironically, I encourage at least one person on the walk to have a phone in case of emergencies, but it should stay securely in a pocket at other times. Not every tree needs to be photographed every time we pass it.
  • Regularly scheduled tabletop gaming. I know several of the GeekMom and GeekDad contributors are avid tabletop gamers, but I think every family needs to sit down and argue over UNO, build a dungeon, or play any number of the limitless amounts of games available out there. Sometimes, actual important conversations emerge out of nowhere, too.
  • Take an escape room staycation. These can be pretty expensive, so I wouldn’t recommend them as something to do all the time. For a special outing, however, they are great. Problem-solving, suspense, and immersive storytelling are brought together in one package. How cool! Plus, the rooms won’t let you use your phone. If anyone grumbles about using their device you can pass the hat and say, “Their rules, not mine!”

Speaking of places where phones need to be silenced and used…

  • Go see a movie. Yes, go see a movie on the big screen. Get to a theatre and see a new release, or find a free film series and see one at a park, café, or makeshift drive-in. It has gotten so easy to stream movies at home we forget how much fun actually going to a movie can be. That is if people remember they are in public. With more and more theatres having the “silence your phone” rule, there should be a smaller chance of little glowing seats and hushed conversations behind you.

Well, that is what I have worked out, but whether or not I can follow it is another story.

I hope you give a couple of these ideas a try at least once.

I would have finished this article for you all an hour sooner, but I started watching Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios updates on Instagram…

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