My older daughter and I were sitting on the couch using our phones when she announced she was setting her alarm. It didn’t seem long when it beeped and she said, “Mom, it’s been an hour. We didn’t talk to each other the entire time.”
“A whole hour, really?” I asked.
“Yes, we gotta do something about it!” She was outraged, and eager. I was shocked. She loves her phone as much as I love mine.
At dinner, she told her sister, “Mom played Words with Friends, checked FaceBook, and texted for an hour. She didn’t even talk to me or move!! She’s just as bad as us! Right, Mom?”
“Yes. What do think we should do?” I asked, knowing my girls generate the best ideas for doing something different or new.
Their enthusiasm surprised me. They suggested we turn our phones off for a while everyday. Were they sure? They were and we agreed; start on New Year’s Day; no screens from 5:30 to 7:00 every evening; and commit to six weeks. We named it The Unplug Challenge.
Truthfully, it was very stressful at first!
We hadn’t realized that using our phones was as involuntary as breathing or how dependent we’d become. We talked about how weird and awkward we each felt, especially in the beginning. We questioned what we’d been thinking, making a plan like this! Still, we stuck with it.
Apart from the rough adjustment, the results after just nine days have been remarkable! Most notably, we interact more. The older one quizzed her sister on her spelling words and I used each word in a sentence first. When we rearranged the furniture in the den, I discovered my younger daughter has a flair for design. Together, my girls convinced me that eating two spoonfuls of ice cream from the carton before dinner was a good thing. They were right!
We’d been missing cool stuff. Connecting. Belonging. Mattering.
Try a version of The Unplug Challenge with your family and see what you gain. And, please, let me know!
P.S. Today, Jan. 9, 2017 is the tenth anniversary of the first iPhone.