Setting Boundaries With Cell Phone Use
Is this a hot button? How many times do we pull out the phone to waste time, when we’re bored, or need a distraction? Sometimes the cell phone and social media becomes a tool for feeling valued and accepted based on how many “likes” we have acquired for a post or a photo. If you’re a grown adult, you probably remember the good old days in the 90’s when not everyone had a cell phone and it took a few minutes to figure out how to send a short text message. Today, we have texting tournaments to see who’s the fastest…isn’t that kind of strange?
Figuring out what to do with technology is going to be one of the key conversations of the 21st century as it becomes more streamlined, easier to access, omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-present. Put in those terms, it’s pretty scary what the possibilities are for the next generation.
For parents and working professionals, cell phones can become tethered to your person and an interruption of normal life and relationships, especially at home.
Setting Boundaries For Cell Phones
- When you come home, set your phone in the same place and don’t carry around room to room. That special place might be in your bedroom or at the front door. That way it doesn’t become a distraction from important relationships that deserve the time and attention to not be interrupted. Depending on your professional life, you may be expected to respond during the weekend or when you’re away from the office. Consider setting up a special tone or perhaps even certain times during your “off-time” when you will check and respond to messages so that you can truly be “off” from work.
- Carry a book with your in your car for when you’re waiting for a friend at a coffee shop or at a doctor’s office. You’ll be surprised at how much quality reading you can do when your attention isn’t captured by Internet gossip or funny short videos on Facebook. Doing this can be a great way to role model the importance of reading for kids who are that interconnected generation that is growing up with the iPhone and the Internet.
- Turn your phone off. Maybe try it one day a week. If that’s too much, maybe just a morning or an afternoon during the weekend. Think of some hobbies or home projects that could be done without interruption. Alternatively, if you have a family, perhaps consider having quality family time or even a game night when everyone turns off their cell phones.
- Put your phone on silent during a meeting and keep it out of sight. Prioritize what’s right in front of you as if it’s the most important thing. If you’re meeting up with a friend and they put their phone on the table, perhaps consider asking them to put it away. If you do it just once, chances are they’ll remember in the future that you prefer to meet with them and not with them and their phone. You never know, you might even influence them to do the same with their friends.
So what’s the big deal about cell phones, relationships, and boundaries? The big deal is that social norms are changing and they are changing us and our culture to be more interconnected but less personal and relational. That means a degree of connection without intimacy and closeness that comes from that interpersonal, face to face interaction. That interaction is important to our health. The more people become isolated, the less they are known, and the more they develop depression and/ or anxiety.
It’s a big deal to us because we aren’t just here to throw someone a prescription and tell them to call us if anything goes wrong. We’re here because we care about the whole person. Mental health doesn’t just happen in a vacuum, it happens in the real world, in the context of relationships and community.
The more “real” our connections are with the world around us, the better we will become. The more interconnected and active we are within our community, the more we will have the tools and resources to cope with depression and anxiety. At PTI, we want to advocate for that picture of total health and we do that by treating people right. If depression, anxiety, PTSD, or any other type of mental health concern is holding you back, please give us a call today. We’re here and ready to help you make a plan to move forward.