My love affair with the iPhone began in 2009. As an avid Apple consumer, I was very eager to try the newest iProduct. I had been eyeing the iPhone since they came out in 2007. My need to upgrade only intensified as more and more of my friends made the switch over to smartphones.
Once I finally had my first iPhone in my hands, I couldn’t comprehend how I had survived the first 23 years of my life without it.
How did I ever get from place to place?
How do I find out if it will be raining in 15 minutes?
How did I communicate with friends and family?
How did I look up the name of the actor in this Netflix movie I’m watching? You know, the one from that TV show that aired for half a season in 1998?
Smartphones pretty much are the greatest things since sliced bread. Until they’re not.
Here’s what led me to give up my smartphone once and for all:
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Too Much of a Good Thing
Looking back, the first signs of trouble in my long-term relationship with my iPhone appeared when I became pregnant with Baby Bear.
At first, I was so exciting each week to get the push notifications that told me how big my baby is. I was so amazed that I had a baby as big as a blueberry in me… That’s adorable!
It wasn’t so cute, though, when I got the reminder that I was carrying around a baby the size of a PUMPKIN. At 39 weeks pregnant the last thing I needed was an alert that I had a human the size of Jack-o-Lantern in my uterus. Seriously?
And I could google anything.
I would Google things like “numb arm 22 weeks pregnant” and find all sorts of informational responses. These would generally run the gamut from “This is a completely normal pregnancy symptom” to “You needed to get to the hospital now; your life, your baby’s life, and your dog’s life are all in danger!”
We all know stress is no good for pregnant mamas. I was starting to learn that maybe there is such a thing as too much information.
Our romance rekindled after Baby Bear was born. Man, did that girl like to nurse in her first few months. I’m talking like 8-12 hours a day of nursing. My iPhone was with me throughout it all. It kept me entertained, updated me on the happenings of my Facebook friends, and provided me with answers to my new-mommy questions.
I was pretty into my iPhone during those early months. But I had this nagging feeling that I was often missing out on something with Baby Bear. Weren’t we both doing this breastfeeding thing? This is a pretty intimate thing that we are doing together. Yet I was checked out from the activity at hand, mindlessly passing time.
I began to imagine the scenario from her perspective. Here she was, just an itty-bitty thing, eating away. She was stuck with me, the only way she can get nutrients into her little body. And I was basically ignoring her – laughing to memes online, crying at YouTube videos. She had no clue what was causing my reactions. All she wanted was my attention, but I was spending so much time focused on this little rectangle and not on her.
My overuse of the beloved iPhone was totally blocking our bonding.
As soon as I saw the situation through her eyes, I put the iPhone away during nursing. Yes, it still comes back out after she falls asleep. But now I am able to focus on her cues and faces while we nurse together. I was missing out on a lot!
Do As I Say, Not As I Do?
Mountain Papa and I limit Baby Bear’s screen time (as in, she doesn’t get any. She’s only 14 months old!). Despite this fact, I still used my phone in front of her quite often. When she started to become mobile and began to reach for it, I would swerve it out of her way, annoyed, and say, “No, this is Mama’s, not yours.”
Great way to teach her how to share, huh?
Babies and children learn through watching and doing what those around them do. I’m not so sure I want Baby Bear to grow up in a world where I’m on a screen all the time. I’d rather spend our time doing meaningful activities together.
Oh, There’s Other People Here?
A few weeks ago we had some friends over. We were hanging out in the backyard, and I ran inside to grab something. I glanced out the window quickly and saw all four adults staring into their smartphones. Not talking to each other. Not interacting. Baby Bear was running around, trying to play with them, but no one noticed. There are people who hadn’t seen each other in MONTHS.
I wish I could say this was a terrible, momentary lapse in judgement on the part of my friends. But this scene is all too common in our society now. Everywhere I go I see screen time getting in the way of real, human interaction. All smartphone owners are guilty of it. I am certainly guilty of it.
I’ll often catch myself nodding along to what someone else is saying, not really listening. Or telling Baby Bear to “just wait a minute” while I scroll through my phone. I ignore my husband, my child, my family when I’m attached to my phone.
Recovering iPhone Addict
A few months ago, I realized that the combination of all these factors were enough to make me want to give up my iPhone. As much as I love that device, I’m sure I’m a better person without it.
So when it was time to renew my contract, I opted for a dumbphone instead. I can use it to make phone calls and text, but I can’t access the internet on my phone now. Not without pulling my hair out from the user-unfriendliness, at least.
But I’m a work at home mom. My old iPhone may be disconnected from the cell towers, but it is still connected to my WiFi. In the evenings and on weekends I am as addicted to my iPhone as ever.
I pay $30/month for Verizon’s cell phone access for my dumbphone, and I paid $60 out-of-pocket for the phone. That’s $420 over the course of one year.
I’d pay an extra $31.24 each month if I upgraded to the latest and greatest iPhone (not including taxes and fees). I’m not including the cost of Apps since I generally don’t use any paid Apps or make any in-App purchases. If you do make in-App purchase, keep track of them! Those $.99 purchases add up quickly.
That’s a dollar savings of $315 over one year.
Having a smartphone is a huge time suck for me. I could spend up to 6-7 hours a day on that thing between playing games, checking Facebook, or reading listicles online. Only about a half hour of that is spent doing something productive (i.e., checking and responding to e-mails, paying bills, or making grocery lists).
I will still be able to get those things done quickly and efficiently using my computer. It’ll be easier to limit my use of the computer to certain points during the day, too, say when Baby Bear’s sleeping.
The amount of time not having an iPhone should save me is staggering – over 2,000 hours in the course of one year alone!
The screen addiction is hard to break, but I’m ready to give it up.
Saving money was a factor in my decision to end my relationships with my iPhone, but it wasn’t the deciding factor. I actually would have saved the $60 I spent on my dumbphone if I had just kept on using my iPhone as a phone without upgrading at all.
No, I’ve been uncomfortable with my level of smartphone use for a while. I’d made small improvements in cutting back on my usage, but I needed a drastic change. Constant connection to the world through my smartphone was very important to me for a long time, but at some point my priorities changed.
So I wiped my iPhone clean, powered it off, and put it in a drawer. I’ve been smartphone-free for two weeks. I’ve already noticed my concentration has improved, I’m less distracted, I’m less cranky, and I’ve been able to get a lot more done.
I’m starting to wonder why I didn’t break free of the smartphone life sooner.