Phone with screen down on table

Be present

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Don’t miss out because you’re staring at a screen.

My best friend put her hand in front of my phone’s screen. “Hang up and hang out,” she teased.

I laughed, and felt a twinge of guilt. We had just ordered food, and I automatically pulled out my phone to scroll through Instagram while we waited. She and my other friend from Texas were only in California for a few days, and I was looking at pictures of what people were doing miles away instead of focusing on the people right in front of me.

It’s easy to get sucked into the digital black hole. The average media consumer interacts with social media about two hours each day and spends a total of ten looking at their computer, phone, tablet or TV screens.

Technology offers us a way out—a distraction from our day-to-day life, a filler for the mundane moments. But it’s important not to become so engrossed in it that we forget to live in the moment.

You don’t have to quit social media cold turkey to be present, but it helps to be mindful. Here are some simple ways that you can adjust your time spent on the phone.

Put your phone away

If you’re in the habit of constantly looking at your phone while you’re alone, you’re probably going to be tempted to check your phone for updates or texts even when you have someone sitting right in front of you. A simple solution is to have your phone out of reach. Put it in your purse or pocket, so when you have the urge to check your phone you at least have time to stop yourself and check if your motives are necessary or out of compulsion.  

Adjust your data settings

Most smartphones allow you to adjust what apps you can use while out of WiFi service. Think about the apps you’ll actually need while offline—GPS, music, or imessage. If it isn’t absolutely necessary for you to have while out of a WiFi network, turn it off. You’ll realize you aren’t missing out on as much as you think you are. Too big a commitment? Try turning off notifications for your favorite apps instead.

Designate social media time

It’s harmless to check Facebook or Twitter for five minutes during work or a study session, right? Actually, it could take almost 25 minutes to regain concentration even after a few minutes of social media interruption. Choose certain times in the day to take a short break, but don’t look at it throughout the entire day.

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