Instead of weight loss and exercise, many are focusing on digital changes for the new year
There may be a "a craving for real life re-emerging," said CyberWise co-founder
Making technology more of a "frenemy" is also the goal of some parents
Editor’s Note: Kelly Wallace is CNN’s digital correspondent and editor-at-large covering family, career and life. Read her other columns on digital life and follow her reports at CNN Parents and on Twitter.
I am one of “those” people who loves the new year, makes resolutions and normally fails to keep up with most of them by the end of January.
But there is one I might actually be able to stick to this year.
I pledge to not check my email, Twitter and Facebook every time I walk into my kitchen, which is where I leave my not one but two devices (I can’t give up a BlackBerry!)
Every time I sneak a quick peek, when I’m making breakfast for my girls or getting dinner ready for my husband and me, I ask myself, “What could possibly be so important that I need to do this right now?”
And I am definitely not alone. Based on what I heard from people on social media and via email, there seems to be a growing need to unplug – even just a little bit.
Diana Graber, co-founder of CyberWise.org, a digital literacy site for parents, educators and tweens and teens, says the desire to be “in the moment” seems to be getting a lot of traction this year.
“I think we are experiencing a bit of a pendulum swing with a craving for real life re-emerging,” said Graber, who teaches “cybercivics” to middle schoolers in Aliso Viejo, California.
No more allowing social media to be her social life, says Tish Howard, a retired elementary school principal in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Before her retirement, her social circle was built around her colleagues with staff baseball games, events and plays.
“Life was full” and then “BAM retirement!” said Howard, who said she started relying too heavily on electronics.
“I realized this year that I needed to personally connect again and not with an iPad,” she added. “I have already made three dinner plans, a cruise with an old friend, and began volunteering at a food bank.”
Kitty Bradshaw, creator of an online destination covering lifestyle in Los Angeles and New York, says she plans to strengthen her friendships by going offline and “incorporating the retro pen, paper, post office method.”
What a concept!
“A few days ago, I mailed out 40 greeting cards with personal messages to friends and asked them to Instagram where they placed the card in their home or office using the hashtag #FriendsofKittyB,” she said. “Based on the follow-through and response, I will be able to gauge what relationships need more work than others.”
“I want my friends to know they are bigger than a comment or ‘like.’ We can deal in real time and not hiding behind a smartphone.”
From sending cards to putting that iPhone down to reading a book with actual pages, here are 14 digital resolutions for 2015.
1. iPhone curfew
Kathy Beymer, founder of the craft site Merriment Design, is going to try to steer clear of her smartphone after 9:30 p.m. “I tend to look at my phone while I’m getting ready for bed and then I go from email to news to Instagram to Facebook to US Weekly to email again and then it’s like an hour later and I could have been asleep. My dark eye circles will hopefully get curbed too, ha.”
2. Goodbye to Filofax
Diane Smith, an Emmy award-winning television journalist and author, says the time has come for her to make her entire calendar digital. “How did I come to this conclusion? Because the three stores that I could count on to supply Filofax refills are all going out of business? What does that tell you?”
3. Less cynical approach to social media
Blogger Buzz Bishop says he’s trying to take a more positive and less cynical approach to his posts on social media. “Those random passive aggressive comments about everyday life don’t need to get out there,” he said. He’s aiming to live his life a bit more like astronaut Col. Chris Hadfield, who has said, “The easiest thing in the world is to be cynical … optimism takes a little more effort.”
4. Save emails for the office
Chelsey Saatkamp, a publicist in New York City, said she’s trying not to look at emails until she gets to work. “When it’s the first thing you look at when you wake up, it really does just start your day off with unnecessary stress. I already have enough of that at the office; the morning should be ‘me time.’ “
5. Read books – actual books
Reading more books, “as in actual, physical books,” is a goal of Brian Gresko’s this year. “Screens are so addictive, and sometimes I’ll have eyestrain at the end of the day and still find myself flipping on Netflix to relax, or laying in bed looking at my phone. I want to unplug with a good old fashioned book!” said Gresko, editor of the anthology on fatherhood “When I First Held You.”
6. Stop smartphone multitasking
Alison Bucalo, a mom of two in Ridgewood, New Jersey, says she and her husband spend way too much time on their iPhones. “I’ve noticed that we will both be texting, tweeting and Facebooking when we’re watching TV. I feel like we’re missing out on time with each other and the kids. (Truth be told: he’s worse than me!)”
7. Take control of devices
“I deleted all kid games from my iPad and phone,” said Jess Dukes, a writer and mom of two in Brooklyn, New York. “They have LeapPads, two TVs, hundreds of books, and even more toys. They have computer time for school stuff. I’ve taken back my devices!”
8. Stop sleeping with the phone
Well, maybe you don’t exactly sleep with it, but many of us keep them on the bedside table! Last year, Serena Kappes, a mom of two and digital editor, started keeping her phone in the living room instead of next to her bed when she went to sleep and has resolved to keep that up in 2015. “So that I’m not tempted to get sucked into social media instead of sleep or start checking email the minute I wake up. It’s made a world of difference.”
9. Limit time on Facebook
Sheila McCraith, author of “Yell Less, Love More,” says she’ll try to cut back on the amount of time she spends on Facebook. “I’ve learned that often times, the content triggers a bad mood, which then, of course, triggers a wicked huge desire to yell at my kids over inconsequential things.”
10. Tell kids your screen needs
Julie Cole, a mother of six and co-founder of Mabel’s Labels, plans to keep talking with her kids about when she needs to use her phone and why. “For example, if I’m going to my child’s hockey or soccer game, I say on my way that I will need to respond to two emails and do one phone call during that time. If the child looks up and I am looking at my phone, they’ll understand why. Then I stick to it,” said Cole. “Communication is key.”
11. Change technology from “enemy” to “frenemy”
Vincent O’Keefe, a writer and stay-at-home dad, said he is resolving to change his negative view of technology’s impact on children. “Now that my teen and tween daughters and I have begun navigating devices and social media together, I realize there are upsides to their use,” said O’Keefe. “I hope to shift my default view of technology from enemy to friend – or at least to ‘frenemy,’ as the kids might say.”
12. Leave the phone at home
Lauren Hiznay, who works in media in New York City, spent New Year’s Eve without her phone. “I was surprised how many people were like, ‘Literally, how can you function?’ ” she said. “I functioned just fine. It’d be nice to do a longer stint off the grid this year.”
13. Get the inbox under control
Janis Brett Elspas, founder of Mommy Blog Expert, says this is the year to finally conquer email overload. “As a busy lifestyle blogger, I get 3,000 emails a day and that number keeps increasing. In fact, right now, I have 22,000 unopened emails sitting in my mailbox, so my resolution for 2015 is to empty my inbox by the end of every day.”
14. Keep “kind” in mind
Sue Scheff, a parenting advocate, author and passionate follower of digital lifestyle trends and research, said 2014 was filled with studies and articles about how kindness was being left behind for all ages online. This year, she said she’s noticing a shift – people saying on Twitter and Facebook that they want to make sure that at least once a day they say something nice to a complete stranger or even someone they care about.
“Start living your words of kindness instead of just talking about it,” said Scheff. “Tweet out a quote to someone, make someone’s day. … Use your keystrokes for kindness.”
Now that’s a reason to pick up that BlackBerry every time I walk into my kitchen!