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Why some Maritimers are ditching smartphones and social media

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Imagine using a flip phone in 2024. That's exactly what Kelly Linehan is now doing in an effort to step back from social media.

"I was like everybody else. I used it a lot, and then kids came in the picture. I tried to be more aware of that. I just don't want them to see me with my head down. I don't want to live life with my head down."

Linehan, a former CTV Atlantic host, is a mom of two and is currently a grad student. She's hoping her decision to ditch her smartphone in favour of a flip phone will help keep her more present in her day-to-day life.

"It's just that immediacy I'm trying to get away from," said Linehan.

"We're all just geared to feeling that vibration in our pocket and going for it, and it interrupts our thoughts, our conversations."

Linehan is mindful of her screen time, but not all parents are. Often, the focus is more on how much screen time kids are getting and not the other way around.

While you don't necessarily need to get rid of your devices in order to make an impact, clinical psychologist Dayna Lee-Baggley said not being present with your child can be harmful to your relationship.

"Even though we like that expression about, 'Do as I say, not as I do,' it's not really how it works, right?" said Lee-Baggley.

"Children are very much influenced by what they see parents doing and it does set a tone for what's acceptable or unacceptable behaviour."

She suggests setting a "do instead" goal rather than a "don't do" goal.

"The science-based way of changing a habit like that would be to think about what you want to do," said Lee-Baggley.

"There are some real advantages of getting off our phones and/or devices, and paying attention to what's happening. So, I'm going to pay attention to the soccer game. I'm going to be present for play time with my kid."

Lee-Baggley said it's not about being perfect. She said you can acknowledge and even apologize for being on your phone if you missed something your child did, and then make an effort to be present.

While Linehan knows turning back the technology clock will be a challenge, it seems she's not alone in her efforts.

"The interesting thing is after I was telling people this is what I'm doing and my plan, a lot of people said, 'Me too.' So, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are other people that feel this way, and that maybe just want to talk about how to do it and how that looks because it's become so much of our lives."

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