I don't consider myself “old” yet. Maybe that is silly – maybe no one realizes how old they really are?! I remember back when pagers were the thing. I had a big ol' white pager that was handed down from my mom. My friends and I would page phone numbers as well as “codes” (143 = I love you). At that time my mom also had a car phone that was stored in (what can only be described as) a suitcase in the trunk of her car. Over the next 20 ish years cell phones got smaller – then bigger – styles changing to suit the changing demand. One trend that was clear is that everyone was making the move to mobile phones. Now a days, most people I talk to don't have a landline anymore, relying on their cell for everything from phone calls and texting to social media and web-surfing.
A friend recently posted this on his Facebook page:
Have you ever monitored how often you are on your phone? I noticed that on average I am using some sort of social media app upwards of 3+ hours a day, 7 days a week. In one year that's 45.5 days straight of being on my phone. 45.5 days a year that I don't notice my kids, I forget about responsibilities and use excuses when I can't “find the time” to get something done. Social media isn't free if it costs you the only thing we can never get more of… Time. I'm restricting myself to less than 1 hour a day going forward. (Dave S. – Rochester, NY)
The calculations are shocking, and I am willing to bet that they are not unusual for most people these days.
Here is the part that seems to shock everyone – my household does not have a cell phone (or a landline, actually). It has been 2 years since we closed our contracts. At first, I felt naked and lost. Like a baby forced to give up the pacifier that comforts her when she's sad, and occupies her when she's bored. Many people tell me the reasons why they could never give up their cells – and honestly, if you don't want to unplug then don't – but many of the reasons I hear make me smile, because those things all apply to me too – and I thought them all before we unplugged. I have 4 children, children with special needs, in school, multiple service providers, job contacts, babysitters, family, friends… we survived without cell phones when I was a kid and we survive just fine without them today.
Without my cell phone, I am forced to be more present and “in the moment” with my children, friends, family, and people in general. I feel like I am able to be more of the mom that I want to be when I don't get wrapped up in social media while I am out and about. I don't check my phone at the playground, the waiting room at dance class, or in the line at the grocery store. Instead I watch my kids play if I am not pushing them on the swings. I chat with other moms/people in the waiting room, playgrounds, or lines. I flip through an occasional magazine. I have plenty of time to be social on the phone/online when I am home – during nap times and bed times and when I designate “work” time (still a balance for sure)!
So what do we do?
I have an app (Talkatone) installed on our iPad and the deactivated iPhone that provides me with voice and texting capabilities using wifi at little to no cost. With the deactivated iPhone, it will still work to call 911 so I typically keep it charged and with me in case of an emergency, and I will occasionally use it for the camera while I am out and about. I simply tell people that my phone is not a traditional cell phone and that it can only be used with wifi, so it's more like a landline but I can make calls at locations with free wifi as well if needed – and so many places have free wifi these days from the grocery store to doctors offices and restaurants. Even though I have access to the apps anywhere there is wifi, eliminating the phone/data plans 2 years ago changed the way I rely on the phone and I find I rarely reach for it.
We save a bunch of money this way. Our internet bill is about $40/month and if I need to purchase minutes to make outbound calls (the Talkatone app provides 60 mins free a month) it's only .99/60 mins. We also use the FaceTime on the iPad to further reduce the need for using the phone app. When we had cell phones through one of the leading national companies, we were paying upwards of $140/month on our cell phones alone – plus we had separate wifi charges as well – and the rates are only rising.
Getting rid of cell phones has saved us money, and gave us time to be present with the people in our lives and really enjoy the little moments. As strange as it sounds these days, my household does not have a cell phone – nor, do we want one.