27 Responses to “When to Get Your Eyes Off the Screen”


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  1. Great post. The digital age has created all sorts of monsters … people who crave constant attention, people who need to be seen and heard for every little thing they do, and people who fear missing out if they aren’t connected to someone, somewhere, all the time.

    Taking a break from it always lifts my spirits and makes me feel fully human again. Funny thing, I feel most “connected” when I walk away from my devices and spend face time with people with whom I’ve established solid relationships over the years.

  2. Good for you for addressing this! It’s something that so many of us need to hear over and over again, and we all nod along, but may struggle to actually make changes.

    It’s been really helpful for me to set boundaries like what you described here. I don’t ditch my phone or the Internet completely, but my goal is to keep it in its proper place: as a tool, not a crutch.

  3. Wow! Great post, Courtney! Thanks for the reminders. I agree, limits keep us from abusing our freedom.

  4. This is a great post Courtney! Numbers 2 and 3 are my biggest pet peeves. I always appreciate a dinner without phones being present, even if I am by myself. I hope more people will take these points into consideration and appreciate the present moment instead of the digital one.

  5. Brilliant post. In our house when we get home the mobile phones are switched off and are not turned on again until we are going out the door. After going out to lunch with a ‘friend’ and having her phone take priority over our conversation I always switch my phone off when Im with soemone else (I think its very rude not to)
    We also allocate ‘computer time’ even though we dont have any children (usually about 2 hrs in the evening), we have people that complain that they sent a text and we didnt reply straight away, but we stand firm and tell them, if we are home the mobiles arent on. They can always phone us on the landline. Sure, people think we are odd, but we are not going to bow to the status quo just to please them. Whats wrong with wanting to spend time together having real conversation?

  6. Definitely agree on the time limitations, “just for fun”, “just to check”, “just to see” can turn into hours following one link or thought after another.

    Life is better lived in real time.

  7. It’s so important to unlearn this habit! Otherwise, we’re changing humanity permanently. Thanks for encouraging us to engage online mindfully.

  8. Jim

    It’s just sad, it’s sad that we have to remind ourselves to be real human beings. I can appreciate what you attempted to do but I’m not sure it will change things. People who understand don’t need to be reminded and those who don’t could never be changed.

    I’m a luddite I guess, I don’t own a cell phone my wife has a cheap one if we get stuck in the car. As for checking texts or emails at every moment I’m not that important and I bet most people who own this luxury aren’t either. I read your 7 eyes up, hearts open reasons not to be using a digital device and when I was growing up each one would be reason enough for my Dad to smash the device to bits. Call me if I’m not home leave a message I’ll get back to you. Send an email and when I’m home and at the computer I’ll write back. That’s all the connective I can offer and most people understand. I know, I know times have changed but maybe not for the better.


  9. A great big yes on this, Courtney. I’ve gotta close the laptop and walk away. Otherwise it’s too easy to trot on by and check something online yet once again. No wonder we’re not getting anything done, are distracted, can’t remember half of what we need to.

    Your posts are fabulous, my friend!


  10. Kellie

    Courtney, thank you. I read the internet-lite, tech-free posts and think “yeah, yeah… I know” but today you struck a chord. The star fish story, the introduction to Hands Free Mama. Reading about “Only Love Today”. I had my breakthrough. Any journey starts with a single step- and today it was reading both your words. Thank you.

  11. Jenn

    My boyfriend and I went out to dinner one night and left our cell phones in the car. We were more engaged in conversation than most of the people around us. The three people at the table behind us kept smartphone glows on their faces. Each time I looked up, they were looking down…even when their waiter came up to them and asked them if they needed anything. They all just shook their heads, without even bothering to look at the waiter. It’s just so rude!

    This is exactly why I’ve decided not to purchase a smartphone. I’m afraid, however, that in the near future, regular flip-phones will no longer be available because of the gaining popularity of the smartphone.

  12. Jenn

    Thank you for your posts! I love your blog!

  13. I only recently found your site, but reading it is one of the most inspirational parts of my day. Thank you :)

  14. I eat breakfast, listen to scripture from my phone and this morning i am even reading/answering emails too – that wasn’t the plan! By the end of an hour my body doesn’t know what it’s eaten and my ears don’t know what they’ve heard and my eyes and heart don’t know what they have read.

  15. Sara

    Really good, thank you! Guess when I read this?! On my lunch break! Why not just take a break? I will be considering this everytime I reach for my phone or computer on my next break :)

  16. Thomas

    Handed down my cellphone some weeks ago when a family member needed it more because of driving each day. Thought about buying an new one but could not bring myself to do so.

    I’m fine without it.

    Nice reminder, the graphic at the top of the post is cool.

  17. Paige

    Thank you for the reminder! I struggle with a few of these and it is my goal to be more present this year. My children are growing up so fast, I don’t want to miss it and I do not want their memories to be of mom always in front of a screen. Thank you again!

  18. A month ago, my iPhone died. It was like saying goodbye to a loved one as they lay unconscious in a hospital bed and they unplugged all life support.

    What actually happened to my phone is, the charging port got damaged. I couldn’t charge my phone, and I was forced to watch its battery slowly drain away.

    Unfortunately, this all happened at night on December 23rd. All stores were going to be closed for the holidays.

    I needed a phone to keep in contact with my family, so I bought one of those no-contract track phones from Walmart while I figured out how to get the phone repaired.

    It was a major adjustment. These cheap phones have practically no memory. I have to stop writing a text so my phone can receive another text. No memory to process both tasks at the same time. The internet is pitiful, no apps, poor pictures…Ugh!

    I moaned and groaned for the first week about just how useless my new phone is. Then I got used to it. At first I thought life would be completely unbearable without a smartphone, but I somehow survived.

  19. I work in an office project managing websites so I’m on the internet and in front of my computer all the time.

    I produce music on a computer as often as I possibly can.

    I have a smartphone that is always on, cus marketing never stops.

    Despite all these things I do feel quite present to what is happening around me. I definitely do get a bit twitchy if I go on holiday and disconnect, but after a few days I’m totally cool with it.

    What would you suggest for someone in my situation? Baring in mind that I enjoy my work and I enjoy my music.

  20. DC

    Read ‘Hamlet’s Blackberry’ by William Powers. It’s right on target. Your post is right on target as well. I caught myself last year at an air show trying desparately to get really good photos when I realized that I was not paying as much attention to the actual demonstration that was happening right in front of me as I was in getting things just right with my camera. I put it away and enjoyed the rest of the flight demonstrations.

    Pet peeve: cell phones being held up to get pictures at concerts. When you pay the prices for concerts today the last thing to do is miss the show trying to get that one great shot. You paid to see a performance. Put the phone down and watch the performance!

  21. John

    Very timely article. I just finished writing an essay on a similar subject, the fragmentation of American society because of the over use and dependency on smart phones / devices for communication. People are more prone to use their device to “communicate” with someone distant while ignoring the people around them. As a result, the close bonds of a neighborhood or community are falling apart – fragmentation.

    • Totally agree with John’s comment. I am always amazed at the “Mommy bloggers” who wax poetic about their wonderful blogging friends, and travel all over the country to meet each other at conventions. Meanwhile, they don’t know even know their own neighbors next door and around the block. What goes?

      • John

        One of my goals this year is to be more intentional with my neighbors. Instead of just waving a ‘hello’ when we cross paths, stop and chat for a few minutes face-to-face.

        • I’m very lucky. I know most of mine… we have a neighborhood book club, a neighborhood dinner club, and holiday potlucks (weather permitting) on the greenspace (the boulevard) in our neighborhood. We have a great time. We don’t have to be besties, but we know each other, and have formed a Neighborhood Watch, which greatly deters crime in our ‘hood. We do use an email chain to keep everyone abreast of all these activities, though, so I cannot say that the Internet hasn’t been a boost for “community,” in this way.

  22. So true! I get panicky if my phone is not within reach and lately the only times I don’t check it frequently are when I’m online, or when work is too busy to check it.

    I also love what you say about keeping devices out of your morning routine. This is the second post I’ve read recently that talked about having a meaningful morning routine and it’s clearly a sign, since I don’t have one.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  24. Tia

    Ok I’ll add one more. When playing with your kids :) I do check my phone around my kids occasionally but not when specifically playing a game or hanging out with them–more a quick glance on the way to get water or the bathroom. That being said the only one I will break the rules for is when waiting. Actually I never check my email or phone most of the day and all the alerts are off so my only time to check my phone is while I’m waiting in line!

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