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Healthy Cell Phone Habits for Parents

The Good and Bad of Cell Phones

The devices in our pockets are capable of some pretty amazing things—whether it's constant contact with friends on social media, increased mindfulness when working out with an app that tracks your physical activity, or simply the thrill of discovery when reading the news.

But, recent studies have shown that nearly half of smartphone users say they can't live without their phones. If you are a parent that just can’t put your smartphone down, consider implementing these habits into your life for the sake of your own health and relationships.

Cell phone use at nighttime

According to a 2015 consumer mobility report, almost half of 18 to 24-year-olds say they have fallen asleep with their cell phone in their hand. Cell phone use at night can hinder both the duration and quality of your night's sleep.

Try turning your phone off at night, or at the very least, placing the device on mute. Limiting the amount of screen time before bedtime for both kids and adults can actually improve the quality of sleep. If you must, implement a no-phone time for you and the kids for an hour or two before bed.

Cell phone use during the day

Constant cell phone use throughout the day can make you anxious and also cause you to miss out on moments and events that are happening right in front of you.

Take frequent breaks from using your cell phone throughout the day. Too much texting or activity can cause overuse pain in fingers and wrists. Your eyes can also become strained from looking at the screen too long.

On-the-go cell phone use

Never text while driving. In some states that is now illegal – and it is always dangerous. A frightening 56% of people have reported texting while driving, which is considered 6 times more dangerous than driving drunk!

If you use headphones or a bluetooth device with your smartphone, consider setting your volume to a reasonable level. A loud volume setting can quickly damage your hearing.

84% of cell phone users worldwide say they cannot go one day without their phone. Try putting your phone down. When you are speaking with friends, when you are waiting in lines, when you are eating a meal.

What are some telltale signs of cell phone addiction?

Cell phone addiction is becoming more commonplace than you would think. According to studies, the average person checks their cell phone 60 times a day. For those addicted to their cell phone, that number may jump to checking their phone up to 900 times each day.

Be on the watch for signs that you may be a bit too attached to your mobile device, including:

  • Constantly checking your phone
  • Using it in strange places like the bathroom
  • Panicking when you don't have it

If you feel like you are becoming addicted to your cell phone, then planning some "no phone" time throughout the day would be a good exercise in self-control. Remember, your example is one that your kids will inevitably follow, so if they see the cell phone in your hands all the time, don't be surprised when they start reaching for one themselves.

Connect with your family

Set a family no-media time and really talk to each other. Don't just ask "how was your day?" Here are some great conversation starters to make family time interesting and fun:

  1. What was the funniest or strangest thing that happened to you today? 
  2. If you could only do one thing for a whole day – what would it be?
  3. If you could create any ice cream flavor – what would it be?
  4. If you could have any superpower – what would it be?
  5. If you could have only 1 wish (and it couldn't be for more wishes)- what would you wish for?

Enjoy your time. You already know kids grow up before you know it.

Margo Anderson-Fowler, MD

Dr. Anderson-Fowler enjoys caring for patients of all ages. She has a special interest in the Mind/Body/Spirit connection for health. She tries to understand her patients' family dynamics and how this may affect their health. She feels a physician should be totally engaged with the patient and see him or her as an individual. She believes every person just wants to be heard so she listens carefully to her patients' concerns and tries to offer them the best care possible so they can reach thei ...

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