I admit I am on my phone a lot. It’s not just because my job depends on me being in the loop a lot during the day, it’s also because I am a busy mom with 3 little kids and I love to Instagram the heck out of them or whip that phone out to save an idea to Evernote or shoot myself an email to remember something. I sometimes feel like my life is in that phone.
It’s not just me who is on my phone a lot. Everywhere I go people are on their phones. They are talking, they are texting, they are emailing, they are on Facebook, they are Googling, they are capturing the perfect shot…there are a million reasons we all pick up our phones. And usually, it’s fine.
However, there are times when we should not be on our phones. They are a distraction and can be dangerous.
I have stopped using my phone…a lot. Not just for my safety and for my kids, but because I want to really live more of my moments without worrying about what is happening on my blog or on twitter or around town.
I had a real conversation with myself. I can totally talk to myself. It is awesome. I have valid points on both sides and I totally work it out. Being a little wacky works for me! Anyhoo, I came up with a few times I really don’t need to be on that thing and stay tuned because I use an app to keep me on point.
I am rocking Verizon’s Safely Go app on my Samsung Galaxy SIII. Verizon made this app available, free of charge, to its smart phone customers in the Verizon tab of Google Play Store. I just typed Safely Go and it popped up. You can add 3 numbers of emergency people so that if that number calls the phone will ring and let you pick up. You can also always dial 911. Otherwise, when you enter the app your phone goes off duty and send people who text you a message. You can create your own message and be as cute as you want or simply use the provided, hi am driving message they provide.
I now turn it not when I am driving and when I just want to put my phone away.
When I am Driving
No brainer. Texting and driving can kill. The time it takes to look down at your phone or type a reply is approximately 4.6 seconds. This is like driving the length of a football field blindfolded. I hope you read that right and read it again.
39 states and Washington D.C. ban texting while driving anyway, so go ahead, make it stop.
When I am in a Meeting or Class or on a Date
I am a wife and a mom, so I cannot turn off my phone unless I legally have to because I am flying. I need to be reached if my kids are sick at school or get hurt or I forgot their lunch or if there is an emergency while my husband is traveling. That’s right, even in yoga class my phone is next to my mat. In meetings, it’s on the table. But thanks to Safely Go, it is off for everyone but those people that might NEED me. It’s super easy to change people, so usually I have my husband and both of my kids’ schools. If we are on a date, I put in the babysitter. You get it.
Since it is rude to be glancing at your phone while someone is talking and doesn’t make for a bunch of romance if you are tweeting your way through a date with your loved one, it is just better to turn on this app and get the most out of that moment in your life.
When I am With My Kids
Don’t freak out. Take a breath. It’s not all the time, but there are some times when my phone is just a distraction from the most important people in my life. There has been a lot of talk recently about the safety of children in the care of people who are on the phone. I’m not perfect. I have pulled out my phone and checked twitter or email while my kids were on the playground. I have done the same thing while we were walking in uptown Charlotte. I will say this. But, it has been awhile, I have made changes.
Two things come to mind, both of which led me to put away my phone before the Wall Street Journal ran the article The Perils of Texting While Parenting.
My Own Child
First, I answered my phone walking out of the bagel store. I was holding Violet’s hand. Miles and Sophia are supposed to hold on to my purse. I was answering it to say I couldn’t talk that minute, which is stupid. Let it go to voicemail. I must have missed the look that passed between Sophia and Miles that said, “Let’s risk our lives and run into traffic to see who can get to the car first.” In a split second I felt Miles pull away and dart into the parking lot as I saw a car coming, and coming fast. Thank God my voice didn’t catch. I screamed so loud and with so much fear the car swerved away from my son. He was in front of the car, and then the car changed direction and screeched around, and then he was standing still, crying. And then I was moving and crying. All of us terrified, we got in the car, checked our buckles 10 times, talked about safety, and headed to school. That moment will never leave my mind.
Second, I was on a playground with my two younger children while my oldest was at her piano lesson. I know I have crazy climbers and I always have to keep an eye on my 2 year old, who will end up on the top of a tunnel slide in seconds if I am not paying attention. I don’t even have time to snap a pic because I am so scared she will fall from 10 or 12 feet in the air. If the kids are playing in the sand or running around in the grass, I will use my phone and go for a photo or maybe check my email but I sort of thought I did it really fast.
Then, one day, I was climbing around on the top level of the playground set with my kids when another child, maybe 2, maybe not, started climbing up the twisty slide. I was trying to keep my eyes on her and even said we go down slides and not up them, but then Violet started getting in her own mess and I turned to help her not massively injure herself. When I turned around to check on the situation the small child climbing the slide was leaning over the top and she fell. I scrambled down and she had the wind knocked out of her. There was no sound for a moment and then, finally, she wailed. Her mom, no different than any of us, looked up from her phone and came running. She wasn’t looking. She didn’t know where on the playground her daughter was. Thank goodness that little girl is okay.
I realized that we don’t check our phones as fast as we think, and really, with very small children, a lot of my job on the playground or while walking down the street is to BE with my kids. Sure, they need to learn some lessons the “hard way” but I knew in that moment that it could have been me running over. It could have been my child on the ground.
I resolved to put the phone away for everything except taking pictures of my kids. I have not missed it. Seriously. It is nice. Sometimes we realize how awesome our kids are when we get in moments with them and fully participate.
So, it’s not just in the car that I put my phone away. For me, there are simply things that are more important.
Have you changed the way you use your phone? What do you think about safety in the car…or out of it?
Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Wireless Ambassador program and have been provided with a wireless device and three months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.