(Spoiler alert: Living heads up is safer, more rewarding, and more fulfilling than living heads down on a tiny screen.)
Anyway, we printed off a bunch of t-shirts, and Craig and I are giving them out to local K-12 students. Our first “assembly” is tomorrow, and I’m terrified of this happening during my brief remarks:
All jokes aside, I’m excited to spread the gospel of Log Off with more community events. Since first publishing my book, I realize this is a drum I must constantly beat if I want to change lives. To start a movement, I have to do more than write a nifty little book.
Many years ago, I was heads down on a tiny screen while my two young daughters (one toddler, one baby) were playing in the living room. The latter was kicking around on the ottoman and the former was cooing at her.
Then something happened that changed my life. The baby fell off the ottoman. Because my eyes were literally off the ball, I wrongly accused the toddler of pushing her crying sister to the floor. Moments later, it nearly happened a second time—me heads down again, only this time the toddler was alerting me from the corner of the room that my baby daughter was about to scooch herself off the ottoman again. She didn’t want to get in trouble again by being in the vicinity.
I felt terrible. My obsession with a tiny little screen had caused me to become a negligent father. Rather than play with my two wonderful children in my free time, I thought it more important to look at some fleeting distraction that would have been there had I reached for it at a later, more appropriate time.
From then on, I decided to live heads up instead. I didn’t throw my phone away. But I did neuter it. I restricted it with specific boundaries—boundaries I continue to use today to keep my eye on the ball. By ball I mean friends, family, things I want to create, the present, my thoughts and feelings, and offline hobbies that excite me (like soccer and travel and music and nature).
As I wrote in Log Off, “I refuse to spend my entire day online. In many ways, I view the internet as my cubicle. And why on earth would anyone want to live in a cubicle all day?”
Staying off screens is hard, however. According to a recent national survey conducted by Log Off Institute, more than half of Americans (61%) believe they spend too much time on their phone. For children and adults alike, these things are highly addictive.
How, then, can each of us live heads up? What can we do this very summer to make a change? Here’s what I’ve successfully done over the last 13 years:
- Ask for help. Tell the people you know and love that you need their help. Ask them to become your “accountability partner” and check in on your progress. This is a powerful way to stay off screens.
- Turn off alerts. Research shows that it’s in your best interest to limit phone use. But phone makers want you to use your phone as much as possible because it makes them more money. So they ship phones with visual and audible alerts for everything to get you to pick up your phone more. Unless these alerts come from your close family, turn these alerts off. Your phone or favorite app will wait for you, I promise.
- Limit usage. Decide when and how you will use a screen. In my case, I don’t check work emails on nights and weekends, I don’t take my phone to bed, and I delete distracting apps that don’t make me happy.
- Reach for new hobbies. This is a big one. If you don’t replace screen time with new habits, you’ll likely return to your phone to fight boredom. So set new goals and try new things instead of staying on your phone.
I believe living heads up (instead of heads down on tiny screens) is an easy way to change the world. If all of us do the above, we can be more focused, more fun, more capable, and more purposeful people. We can be better kids, parents, workers, hobbyists, creators, and volunteers. We can even change the world.
Thank you for reading and sharing this message.