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Do you find yourself rubbing your eyes from looking at the same screen all day? Are your friends and family complaining about you always being distracted? Is your phone the first and last thing you check every day?
These days we spend more of our time staring at our smartphones and tablets than ever, and that’s because they have replaced an increasing number of household products over the years. Here are some that maybe, just maybe, you might want to start using again.
Many of us started using our mobile phones as our primary alarm clocks the moment we got our hands on one. After all, this is a feature that’s been included long before cell phones became “smart.” Doing so has its advantages, such as setting a ton of alarms (I want to be up at 7, so here’s one for 6:00, 6:30, 6:40, and 6:55), having them with you wherever you go (great for workers who travel), and waking up to something other than a blaring beep.
But most of us are waking up at around the same time and place day after day. And considering how quickly smartphones drain, if they’re not plugged in, they may not make it until morning. By investing in a separate alarm clock, you can still get up on time in the morning and manage to do so without making the phone the first thing you interact with. You can even get one with a backup battery, so that you’re still awoken on time if the power happens to flicker overnight.
And while you’re picking out that alarm clock, keep in mind what else it can do…
You may have grown accustomed to only using a traditional radio inside of a car, but standalone ones are still a thing, and they don’t all look like this anymore.
Radios are not hard to find, and some modern ones don’t require an old-fashioned antenna to pick up reception. For people who predominantly listen to local stations while at home, it may be an investment worth considering.
Sure, you can stream radio stations over the Internet with apps like TuneIn, which gives you access regardless of how far away you are from a tower, but there’s a downside to doing so. Online streams may sound live, but they can get delayed due to initial load times and buffering. This isn’t usually a big deal, but when the station tells you what time it is, you might want to double-check, or have a standard radio around to serve as the final word. And a battery-powered one is still a great thing to have around in case of an emergency.
I know, many of you probably (perhaps even begrudgingly) just transitioned over to reading e-books, and you’ve been consuming more novels because of it. I understand. I started reading books exclusively on electronic devices several years ago, and I’ve loved the convenience of it.
But hear me out here. Physical books still maintain a number of advantages, and encouraging you to put down your phone is one of them. It’s great to cuddle up with a good book in the evening after work, but if you’re reading it on your smartphone, that’s several more hours spent looking at the same device you’ve already been glued to for much of the day. Picking up a paperback lets you perform the same task while taking a break from your phone, and you’re less likely to get distracted in the process.
If your entire library must be digital, consider using a dedicated e-reader instead. It’s better for your eyes, you still put your phone down, and you project a completely different demeanor to others when you’re seen reading a Nook or Kindle versus being just another person buried in their phone.
Magazines & Newspapers
You might think the case for physical magazines and newspapers is the same as the one for books, but there are a few significant differences. For one, the digital selection isn’t quite as thorough with magazines and newspapers as it is for books, so while you may be able to purchase all of the same tomes on your bookshelf in a digital format, switching to a phone or tablet can mean giving up on a bunch of smaller, local publications that don’t publish each issue online somewhere.
If you don’t live in a major metropolitan area, you might be surprised just how much is going on where you live if you don’t pick up the local publications. They paint a detailed picture of an area that mobile news apps just don’t do.
It’s worth mentioning that much of this content is still available on websites, even if you can’t necessarily buy a digitized version of each issue. But online articles are covered with links and surrounded by any number of distractions that you’re less likely to get burdened down with by picking up a paper or magazine while eating a sandwich at the kitchen table.
This may sound old-fashioned, but it can be liberating to take a task that’s become so associated with mobile devices, such as reading the news, and being able to do it without draining your battery and staring at the same old screen.
Games & Consoles
There are no shortage of ways to get glued to a smartphone or tablet, but the sheer volume of free games makes it especially easy to get sucked in for hours. Yet while this may be one of the most talked about trends in gaming at the moment, it’s far from the only type on the rise.
Board games are making a comeback in a big way. While the name used to draw up thoughts of say Monopoly, Candy Land, and Sorry!,things have changed. Board games like Pandemic, Eldrich Horror, and Eclipse can be even more fun played with adults over a beer than with young children. And when it comes to card games, there’s everything from the extremely irreverent Cards Against Humanity to the comic book-inspired Sentinels of the Multiverse. Even if you can find a digital version of some of these, it’s a good time right now to put the screen down and get together with some friends.
As for video games, it’s still worth holding on to your dedicated machine. Console games offer a deeper experience than most mobile software out there, and they probably will for quite a while to come. Not only that, they allow for more social interaction with the people around you than tapping at a smartphone (which has become recognized around the world as a signal for “leave me alone”). Even if you’re playing a single-player game, there’s still something social about a friend being able to pull up a chair and watch.
And while this may sound funny to gamers who grew up under parents telling them it’s not healthy to stare at a TV all day, looking at the big screen can be a nice break from holding a smaller one much closer to your eyes.
What Items Have You Replaced With Your Phone?
Do you still lug around a digital camera? Probably not. Phones have made it easy to capture life’s moments without having to haul an extra bit of equipment around, and the few moments it takes to snap a shot don’t add up to spending all that much more time with your phone. Nor does opening up a calculator app, using navigation software in place of a dedicated GPS, or listening to locally saved music instead of carrying around an MP3 player. You won’t see me switching back to a flip phone anytime soon.
It’s okay to let our phones replace things, as long as it’s not everything. Phones, like all things in life, should be enjoyed in moderation. If your phone isn’t able to keep its screen on long enough for you to get from one charge to another, getting a model with a bigger battery might not be the only solution worth considering. The thing probably needs a break, and you might too.