Do you have a technology addiction?
Resolve to Unplug!
by Shaunna Privratsky
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Technology is great. Computers and laptops make it easy to work from home, complete school assignments, research the best deals, buy specialty items, bank online, etc. The list is endless. Add smartphones that do all that and more, and you realize just how amazing our lives have gotten.
Yet there is a downside, personal as well as financial. Our lives have become so frenetic that scientists have actually identified a panic disorder when the person is not connected or their phone isn't available for a lengthy time period. Here are 10 reasons to unplug more in 2017.
1. Distracted driving kills.
According to Distraction.gov, 3,179 people were killed and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2014. Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that's enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. We have to commit to unplugging when driving.
2. It's costly to stay connected.
The average cost for a basic internet connection has soared to $72 a month. That is double what it was a year ago. Most people need that connection, so it has become a necessity rather than a luxury.
3. Staying up to date gets expensive.
It used to be only new cars that dramatically depreciated in value. Now your brand-new smartphone is obsolete in eight months to a year. With every member of the family requiring one, this gets expensive, fast.
4. Kids can be overwhelmed.
With the whole internet at their fingertips 24/7, kids growing up today are more tech-savvy and more connected. Yet they are also losing key opportunities to just be kids. It's no surprise that the obesity problem is growing rather than shrinking. The obsession with body image and bullying can be devastating to children and teens and can cost thousands in doctors and therapy bills. Instead, encourage more family and friend time.
5. Too much screen time affects your sleep.
Insomnia is a multi-billion dollar industry. According to WebMD.com, the number one way to get better sleep is to turn off the technology, especially in the sanctity of your bedroom. This is especially important for teens, as they are prone to using their phones well into the night, leaving them tired and ill-prepared for a day at school.
6. Social media can steal your time.
I recently joined Facebook. I know it's about ten years after everyone else on the planet! Just setting it up, connecting with family and friends, adding pictures, and commenting on other sites took three hours! It can be so addicting and can lead to poor performance at work, which could lead to the ultimate financial blow: losing your job. Put social media in its place and just unplug more.
7. A sneaky way social media steals your money is by creating envy.
You might fall into the trap of thinking, "I need to buy new furniture just like the Parkers." Or you might pay too much for a vacation just to brag about your fabulous getaway. What is posted online doesn't always tell the whole story. Maybe your friends are in debt or struggling to overcome a huge mortgage payment. Living within your means is always the wisest choice.
If your spending has put you in debt, take the first step to financial freedom!
8. Guilt can drive us to spend more.
When your kids catch you staring at your phone the whole time they are playing sports, excelling at a dance recital, or singing their hearts out, you might take everyone out for an expensive meal to make up for it. Just unplug and enjoy the show.
9. It is easy to rely on technology to get your chores done.
It is so easy to plop the kids down in front of a movie or show and know they will be distracted long enough to do the dishes, laundry, and straighten up. However, if you do this too much, you can miss out on fun times you could be having, like taking a walk around the block, going to the library, or just kicking a ball around in the backyard. Unplug once in a while; the dishes will wait.
10. With everyone distracted by phones or computers, it is hard to have good old-fashioned family time.
You may all have different schedules and even mealtimes can be a challenge. Make a firm rule that one meal a day or at least one meal a week is spent together, without smartphones or laptops or even the TV. Reconnecting with the ones you love the most is priceless.
Technology is here to stay. Just don't let it overtake everything that matters to you. Learn to prioritize, set limits, and just unplug more in 2017. Now excuse me, I have to go buy minutes for my flip phone.
Shaunna Privratsky became an expert in personal finance out of necessity. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.
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