I believe that time spent with family and friends should be quality time, enjoying each others’ company.  Technology, like social media, is a wonderful way to keep us connected and to share our lives with our friends and loved ones.  However, all around me in Bismarck and in other cities I visit, people are looking into their smartphones instead of focusing on quality conversations with the people right in front of them.  Just look around…. couples on a dinner date, he's checking the sports score, she's updating her Facebook status. Family movie night... kids are texting their friends while Mom and Dad are playing on Pinterest and reading the latest news on CNN. Friends standing next to each other at a concert, liking each others' Facebook statuses instead of having a real live conversation.

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Studies have shown that the average smartphone user spends at least 2 hours per day on his/her phone – and only 97 minutes per day with their family.  I feel that we need to set healthy boundaries in our lives so that technology does not replace quality time with each other.  Here are some handy tips I found:

1)    Set boundaries for your smartphone use, and include your friends, family and coworkers.   Start with simple changes:  no Facebooking during date night, no emails during family dinner, no texting during work meetings. Set clear expectations for what is acceptable smartphone use and what is not in your family and your social circles.

 

2)    Turn off push notifications and set custom ringtones for all of your favorite people.  When you hear that familiar chirp or chime, you automatically grab your phone like it is second nature.  If you turn off ALL your push notifications, all of those familiar little noises will disappear from your life, and so will the urge to constantly pick up your phone! By setting custom ringtones, you can ensure that you only go running when you hear the phone ring if it's someone important.

3)    Move your social media apps to the second screen of your phone.  If you move your social media apps to the second screen of your phone, you guarantee that you won't see all those nagging notifications every single time you turn on your phone. When you pick up your phone to do one simple task, you can do it without getting sucked into doing other things like scrolling through Facebook or Twitter.

4)    Designate an unplugged time every day. Make a conscious effort to unplug during certain times per day.  Designate some phone-free time every day when all of your family members are home.  Stash the phones or turn them off and enjoy board games, planning a vacation, or just listening to everyone talk about the events of the day.

Source: The Huffington Post