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3 Ways to Get Control of Your Tech Usage

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If we don’t control our use of technology, it will control us. Here are three ways to take charge.

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Everything we steward in life requires good management. Just think about it a moment. We manage our time, our finances, our relationships, our work responsibilities, etc. If you would look at your life right now, it would be difficult to find an area that didn’t require a certain degree of management.

Without it, things get out of control.

Years ago, my father would tell me: “Control your __________ (fill in the blank), or it will control you.” You are probably familiar with this phrase yourself. And it still remains true: If you don’t control (manage) an area of your life (whatever it may be), it will eventually end up controlling you.

This is particularly true of tech.

Tech usage is beginning to crowd out more meaningful activities. We hear about this all the time. And it’s not only replacing some good, outdoor fun in the fresh air; it’s also replacing face to face interactions with those that are closest to us. Because this problem has become so prevalent, social scientists, led by Dr. Brandon McDaniel of Illinois State University, have even given it a name: technoference.

So what exactly is technoference?

Let’s just look at a couple scenarios:

You are sitting at the dinner table, listening to your spouse recap the day, and your phone vibrates. Of course, since you are expecting an important email, you check to see if it’s in your inbox (just a glance … no big deal). Your spouse stops mid-sentence, watching your phone take precedence over your conversation.

You’re in the car after picking up the kids from practice. They are excited to talk about the upcoming tournament, but you can’t right now. You have an important call to make and it can’t wait. So the kids sit silently in the backseat, listening, all the way home. (They can’t even talk to each other.)

These are just two examples, but you could probably add more because you’ve experienced them yourself.

And throughout the day, these little tech interruptions go on and on: text messages, Facebook, a look at the news, an interesting article, a quick call. Before long, we are so involved in what’s going on “out there”, we forget to prioritize what’s going on in our homes. It’s not about planning a big event, either. We just need to sit and talk without the interruption of tech. To do those simple things that used to happen in the normal course of a day.

Much of this is not intentional, and few of us probably even realize how much time we spend on our devices. Isn’t it time we changed that and managed our tech?

If you agree, here are three simple suggestions to get you started:

1. Take a Tech Timeout.

Define times and places where tech is not allowed. In other words, create tech-free zones. The dinner table? Off-limits. The car ride home? Talking is better. Think of your specific situation and manage it accordingly. If you have kids, you might even find their attitudes improve because they don’t have to act out to receive your attention.

2. Intentionally Set Aside Your Phone When Someone Is Speaking to You.

I recently came across a term I hadn’t heard before called “phubbing.” The origin of the word came from an ad campaign challenge to describe the habit of “snubbing someone in favor of a mobile phone.” Phubbing was born. And if you are like me, you have not only been a victim of phubbing, you have “phubbed” someone yourself. The remedy is better phone management.

3. Track Your Time on Tech.

If you are curious to see how often you are on your phone, consider a screen-time tracker like Moment (for iPhone, iPad users). Not only will they track your device, they will also track family usage. More than likely, the results will be eye-opening.

I hope this article makes you more aware of the time you spend on tech and how it affects those around you. It has me. And it’s made me think of my dad and what he would say if he were here today:

“Control your tech, or it will control you.”

Franklin Santagate is the Executive Vice President of Marketing for Pure Flix and works with denominations, ministries and organizations by finding common vision, assets, resources and influence. This article originally appeared on PureFlixAlliance.com

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