How To Stop Being Distracted By Electronics and Devices

Guest post by Melissa Batai

When my son was little, I often took him to the park. I was dismayed to watch most of the parents bring their kids there, and then spend all of their time on their phones, scrolling. I vowed never to be like those parents. Of course, you can see where this is going. Fast forward 14 years, and I recently realized that while I’m still not spending a lot of time on my phone, I am spending a lot of time on my laptop. This has gotten worse during the pandemic. Most parents have trouble spending too much time online. But if you want to change, there are ways to stop being distracted by devices.

Realize Your Why

Most of us homeschool because we want to spend more time with our children, and we want to be responsible for their education. The first thing you need to ask yourself is what is your why? Is it for the reasons above, or something different? Make this clear to yourself.

Then ask yourself why you’re spending so much time on your device and likely compromising your why of homeschooling. For me, I realized I was on my device so much because of simple habit.

Once you know these two things, you can start to change.

Techniques to Stop Being Distracted by Devices During the Day

There are several techniques you can use to help you put down your device during the day.

1. Off Popular Apps

Do you find yourself getting distracted by one particular app like Facebook, Instagram, Etsy, Pinterest, etc.? If so, take that one off your phone. Then, you have less reason to randomly use your phone throughout the day.

2. Turn Off Notifications

Sometimes, you can be engrossed in cleaning or teaching your children when you hear a notification on your phone. Just like Pavlov’s dogs, many of us drop what we’re doing and rush to check the notification. An easy way to solve this problem is to turn off notifications and silence the phone. Then, you won’t be interrupted several times during the day.

3. Only Check When Your Children Aren’t Around

Another option is to only check your phone when your kids are otherwise occupied. If they’re napping or playing outside or down the street with friends, use that time to check your phone.

4. Have Designated Technology Times

The strategy I have used is to have designated technology times. The kids know that in the morning, we’ll read our read-alouds, do religion, and then take a 10-minute break. During that time, I check my computer. I try not to use the computer again until my work time from 12:30 to 2.

If you need extra motivation to stick to your designated technology times, tell your kids your plan. They’ll make sure that you follow your designated schedule.

5. Set Aside Real “Me” Time

Being around our kids all day is a blessing, but especially for introverts, it can be exhausting if we don’t take time to recharge. Often, checking the phone frequently is a way to try to momentarily escape and find some “me” time, but it doesn’t fill us up. Doing this is like eating chips when we really need a full meal.

Instead of using your phone, set aside a certain time during the day when you can recharge. Maybe when your spouse comes home from work you take a walk alone. Maybe you institute quiet time during the day. If you take quality time for yourself, you may find that you don’t need to check your phone as often.

Final Thoughts

If you find yourself spending too much time on your device, as I have during the pandemic, use one or a few of these strategies to put technology back in its place. You’ll feel much better when you have more control over your technology instead of vice versa. And your children will be glad to have a present parent again.

Editor's Note: Not only do devices cause relationship issues when your child is old enough to use cell phones and social media, but they can be a major cause of distracted driving. Whether your child is age 16 or not, consider having a talk to them about how electronic devices while driving is a "no-no" and go over how to put apps and devices in safe modes for driving. 

While it's not possible to completely get rid of notifications for text messages and other important family communication tools, setting rules like "no texting while driving" is an important way to keep safe boundaries while acknowledging the importance of tech in our daily lives.